Nine Steps to Building Trust Online & Offline for Your Small Business


It’s a time of eroding trust in big business, government, and media, as reported by the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer. The average trust in search engines and social media platforms has dropped. Even peers (i.e., “a person like yourself”), once touted as the most credible source of information, have declined considerably.

The 2018 study conducted by Edelman demonstrates that the level of trust and believability in content presented on various platforms is changing as well:

  • 51% trust in personal experiences over data (49%)
  • 59% trust in video over words (41%)
  • 65% trust in a spontaneous speaker over a rehearsed speaker (35%)
  • 63% believe a company’s social media over the company’s advertising (37%)

Despite that, buyers search for trust and reliability continues.

Dwindling Trust Impacts Consumer Buying

The average consumer is exposed to 4,000 – 10,000 brand messages each and every day. Is it any wonder trust is waning? As consumers wade through the inundation of value propositions, information overload, and diminished trust is extending the sales cycle by 22%.

Buyers don’t know who or what to believe anymore.

“A good reputation may get me to try a product – but unless I come to trust
the company behind the product I will soon stop buying it, regardless of its reputation.”

That’s an incredibly profound statement to which 63% of all Edelman study participants agree.

Given the myriad of brand messages, diminishing levels of trust, and the wide range of vendors available, a potential client can easily veer off course on their path to buying your product or service. Given the growing trends, it’s worth taking the time to improve your online and offline trust.

Raising Your Small Business Trust Barometer

The process of client acquisition is rarely a short, straight line. Prospective clients pass through various stages of assurance and trust-building when interacting with your business. Each stage allows your business to develop trust — to move a doubtful, discriminating, prospective buyer to a satisfied client.

When implemented successfully, each succeeding stage heightens trust and establishes the credibility you need to sustain long-lasting relationships.

The nine steps to building trust moves your consumer along the trust continuum. (Although the originator of these powerful nine stages is unknown, we’d like to give a big “shout out” to recognize their contribution to building trust online and offline.)

A consumer moves from….

Step 1. Unaware to aware when they view your website, receive a forwarded email from a friend, or read a story about you or your business on social media.

Step 2. Aware to curious when they are touched or affected by the title or content of something you provide.

Step 3. Curious to interested when they discover something you provide that might help them solve a problem.

Step 4. Interested to believing when they begin to deem that your business is legitimate.

Step 5. Believing to wanting when they see what you are offering and want to learn more about your product or service. 

Step 6. Wanting to in-motion when they respond to an offer and reply by phone, email, or social media message. This is a very BIG step.

Step 7. In-motion to buyer when they believe and trust you and your business, want the product or service you provide, and begin to pay you.

Step 8. Buyer to satisfied customer when they are happy with the product or service you provide and their trust in you is rewarded.

Step 9. Satisfied customer to advocate when a the service and benefits continually exceed their expectations. S/he then begins to refer you to others.

Trust is a forward-looking metric and one of the most valuable business strategies for any business to undertake. By systematically building awareness, trust, and confidence across the stages of trust development, you can solidify your business network immediately using this little-known business strategy.

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Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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