Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows what a fan I am of Liene Stevens’ work, and I was excited yesterday to read her interview with Destination I Do in their August newsletter. There was a lot of great information in there — so please, head on over to read the entire thing — but one particularly useful piece of advice from Liene was this:
"The companies that will survive are the ones which actively cultivate trust."
his statement really made me stop and think. Liene said it in the context of ensuring your social media is a two-way street, in the sense that you should be actually interacting with your audience instead of just announcing things to them. Millennials, she stated, are interested in your personal story only so much as it relates to their own.
After thinking about this point (one with which I wholeheartedly agree), I’d add that cultivating trust should be a priority in the other aspects of running your business, too. You need to present your business as honestly and transparently as possible if you want to maintain your clients’ trust and respect.
I’m a big proponent of businesses (andt their owners) taking themselves seriously and honoring their own right to earn a sustainable income. The key to doing this while actually building, rather than destroying, the trust of your clients is threefold:
- Know why you’re doing what you’re doing. Your policies should reflect your own experience and your needs, and protect your ability to properly serve your clients. They shouldn’t just be copied from someone else if they don’t actually serve you. Do you truly understand why your choice of cancellation policy is the best decision for your business? Do you know why, and in what circumstances, you offer (or don’t offer) discounts? Do you know why your payment terms are set as they are?
- Know how to explain what you’re doing to others. We get asked all the time if we’ll match our competitors’ rates, if we’ll discount our prices because the couple is paying for the wedding themselves, if we can charge them less because their wedding doesn’t need all the “bells and whistles” that other weddings require. We don’t do any of these, and I have a very clear explanation as to why. It’s honest, it’s straightforward, and it respects the clients’ ability as intelligent adults to understand what goes into running our business. (What they do with that information is up to them, and we have lost a few people who just didn’t care why we were charging so much, but I’d say we still manage to book at least 90% of the people who initially tell us price is a concern.)
- Create an overall sense of transparency in your marketing. This doesn’t necessarily mean putting all of your business operations front-and-center on your website, but there are simple things you can do to come across as more transparent to your prospective clients. Present yourself as approachable, as someone people can come to with questions. Be forthcoming with your pricing — if not directly on your website (which is always my recommendation, if it’s appropriate for your service category), then have it available on request. Make your contract and any other agreements as clear as possible, so that it doesn’t seem like you’re going to surprise the client later.
Operating your business in a way that inspires trust will go a long way in earning better, more manageable clients. I promise it will also make your job easier.