July 13, 2015
Trust But Verify
On relationship marketing, building trust, and using written agreements
Relationship marketing is all about building trust. So, what are you doing to create and protect the trust your customers have demonstrated by paying you for your goods or services?
“Relationship marketing is a strategy designed to foster customer loyalty, interaction and long-term engagement. It is designed to develop strong connections with customers by providing them with information directly suited to their needs and interests and by promoting open communication.” (Olenski, 2013)
Emotions run deep when we talk about our favorite brands. The relationship a brand creates with its customers is a bond build on trust. How a brand establishes, cultivates, and protects their customers’ trust will determine not just how customers feel about the brand, but whether they ultimately continue to be paying customers.
There are three “Cs,” which, when properly observed, will protect a brand’s most valuable asset–its customers’ trust.
If your company already has paying (repeat) customers, there’s good reason to believe you have demonstrated some basic level of competence with respect to either your product, your delivery, your marketing, or some combination of those three. That’s a good, albeit temporary, success. I say it is temporary, because no company can afford to rest on its laurels. As Mark Cuban has said, “Work like there is someone working 24 hours a day to take it away from you.” Part of being–and remaining–competent is a integrating processes in your business that ensure continual, incremental improvements in quality, efficiency, and effectiveness in everything your business creates, everything it does.
How clearly is your brand’s message being heard? How perfect is the understanding your customers have of the terms of service you provide, of your liability (or lack thereof) for their use of your products? Do you have a contract that governs your client or customer relationships? How well-written is that contract, if it exists? How easy to read, easy to understand is it?
How can your customers trust your brand and its message, if they don’t understand or have not been told even the most basic information they need to know about the nature of their relationship with your company? Using appropriate, well-drafted contracts and agreements (including Terms of Service, EULAs, etc.) is crucial to establishing and building trust between customers and your business.
Far too many entrepreneurs seem to have gamophobia (fear of commitment). Either they feel the need to make the absolute best decision the very first time; they have such thin margins, they feel they can’t afford to make even one tiny misstep in their business; or maybe they just hate feeling obligated to anyone for anything, ever. Whatever the reason, closing a deal with some folks is like nailing JELL-O to a wall.
Successful entrepreneurs and business decision-makers are decisive. They communicate clearly. The best among them are honest and transparent about their decision-making. If there are two obstacles to closing the deal, such people will tell you what they are, and what needs to happen to overcome them.
Here is what is implied by a failure to state what obstacles to closing a deal exist:
- The person does not understand the obstacle(s), if any, indicating incompetence; or
- The person does not really want to do business with you, because they do not really want to recognize the obstacles and work with you to overcome them. In this case, they have consented to (or even organized) a meeting with you, wasting your time, when they have no intention of doing busienss with you.
Of course, by inferring the above conclusions, one employs a presumption that the person implying such by their actions is doing so knowingly and willingly. Such a presumption may be unfounded. So, it’s often a good idea to give the other person the benefit of the doubt, and ask them whether they recognize the obstacles you recognize, whether those are the only obstacles, and, in their estimation, what needs to be done to overcome them. If they cannot satisfactorily answer those questions, move along to greener pastures.
It should go without saying (though clearly it doesn’t) that once you have a verbal commitment, you need to get your agreement in writing, signed by the parties. Gone forever are the days of doing business on a smile and a handshake. As President Ronald Reagan said, “Trust, but verify.”
When Trust Abounds, Prosperity Follows
Trust is crucial to business, because without it partners cannot work together, customers won’t buy what sellers are selling, and regulation will choke the life out of the marketplace. By observing the three “Cs” above, your business will be taking steps to establish, build, and guard the trust between your brand and those who interact with it.
Executive Legal Professionals can help your business build trust with your customers, employees, investors, and others. Whether you need contracts reviewed, updated, or drafted from scratch, we can help with that. We also provide crucial risk-management legal services–like training, and consulting–to help your business avoid expensive legal problems. In short, we can point out many of your trust deficits, and help you address them in a responsible way. Give us a call at
+1 615.669.6566, today, and see how preventive legal services can reinforce and protect the trust you’re building in your brand.
- Olenski, S. (2013, May 9). This Is The Most Important Word When It Comes To Relationship Marketing. Retrieved June 22, 2015, fromhttp://www.forbes.com/sites/marketshare/2013/05/09/this-is-the-most-important-word-when-it-comes-to-relationship-marketing/
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