3 Tips to Ensure Trust, Credibility, and an Easy Buying Experience

by Michelle Tennant on March 30, 2011

USDA organic potato chips
The other day I tuned into Dr. Oz, one of my favorite daytime shows, and he was raving about RecycleBank.com.

The site actually gives you rewards for buying organically. Wow! Talk about a win-win situation.

Recently, my husband Shannon and I decided to change our diets to strictly organic (we even drink organic beer – check out New Belgium’s Mothership Wit!).

It’s been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. We find the concept that we know exactly where our food comes from and how it was created to be both comforting and satisfying.

We know we’re doing right by the environment and doing right by our bodies. In fact, we were so curious we decided to visit a local organic farm to see exactly where our food was coming from. You can check out the videos from those visits (yes, plural) here.

People are always exclaiming they wish they could eat organic, but the cost drives them away. In my opinion this is not excusable.

Drawing comparisons

Processed food is like murky water. No one wants to drink murky water, because no one knows what’s inside.

If you’re eating processed, non-organic food, you’re essentially putting murky water in your body. To me, you can’t put a price on clean water over your health.

All of this begs the question: Why do we trust organic food as being actually organic?

This is an excellent point and a perfect lead-in to a connection with PR.

The organic food industry launched a campaign to educate the country about the benefits of an organic diet.

The media grabbed hold of it and soon every news station, magazine, and newspaper in the country was reporting on the rise of organic foods and how rocking an organic diet can be for you. This media blitz created a sense of trust with people.

Sure, if one medium was reporting on the wonders of organic food we might be inclined to blow it off, but when all mediums are shouting from the rooftops we tend to take notice.

Remember, media begets media.

My point, in case my jubilance over organic food made it difficult to decipher, is that media coverage leads to credibility and credibility leads to trust. If the public trusts you as an authoritarian in the field, or they trust your product as viable, you gain exposure.

And exposure leads to sales.

PR is all about creating trust and credibility, not selling products (that comes later!). Just because you have a product doesn’t mean I’m going to buy it. There is a process everyone goes through where the ultimate result is purchase or pass.

Obviously, as the owner, creator, or marketer of that product, you hope the decision is always purchase. But what are you doing to ensure I will want your product?

Here are the three stages of the sales process and advice on how to incorporate this towards your ultimate goal.

Stage 1:  Do I trust you?

This is self-explanatory. Has your product had media coverage and are you a reliable person who I can believe?

Organic food is a fine example of this. I trust organic farmers because they must pass a USDA certification to be organic. This gives them clout and trust from their customers. I know this because of the media exposure that revolves around organic foods.

How can you gain the trust of the public? The answer is simple; a good PR campaign. Quality PR work can get you the exposure you desire and that exposure should lead to trust.

If I can read about your product from a media source that I trust then chances are you have accomplished the first step of the sales process.

Stage 2: What’s in it for me?

Now that you’ve established the trust factor it’s time to focus your attention on why and how your product differs from the rest of the items currently on the market.

What does your product do for me? How will your product benefit my life?  Why would I be better off by using your product?

Once again, we can look to organic foods to see how they constructed their campaign to answer these questions. No fluff, no frills – just a basic statement: “If you have an organic diet, what you put into your body will be healthier than if you didn’t.”

That’s it. Sweet, simple, and to the point.

To achieve this goal it’s best to have a website or Facebook Fan Page outlining the benefits of your product. Content from satisfied customers is always a nice touch and shows how everyday people are being impacted.

The importance of social media is immeasurable. Using Facebook and other social networking communities helps to spread your message/product across gender and socioeconomic lines, for free.

If your product is reported by a news source then it behooves you to post this to your Facebook page and spread the word.

Again, remember, media begets media. Your one story has the potential to lead to many more, which only builds your credibility as noted in step 1.

Stage 3:  Is it worth my time and/or money?

By this point you have my trust and you’ve outlined why your product benefits me. Now comes the game changer. We value our time and money highly in this country and we aren’t afraid to admit it.

You’ve lured me in to the point of purchase, but will I pull the trigger? Well, that all depends on you.

How many times have you been online and you’re about to purchase a product but given up because the shopping cart is either too confusing, too long, or simply too hard to understand?

It happens more often than you think. Make sure your sales page is simple, easy, and quick. Chances are, if after five minutes I haven’t been able to purchase the product because I’ve been filing in useless information, I’m just going to give up.

Have people test your page and offer feedback on their ordering experience. Work to ensure your product is efficient from start to finish.

If you wish for your product to be well received by the consumer I highly recommend you follow the path blazed for you by the organic food industry. They recognized that trust is the most important factor.

Once you’ve gained the trust of the consumer, only then can you express your message or product in a positive light. Remember, PR is about building credibility, not about selling your product; that comes from credibility and trust.

It’s one big cycle, and if you can crack that nut you’re well on your way.

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Image: micamonkey via Flickr, Creative Commons

Twenty-year PR veteran Michelle Tennant Nicholson is Chief Creative Officer of Wasabi Publicity and co-founder of www.PitchRate.com, a free media tool that connects journalists, publicists, and experts. Called a five-star publicist by Good Morning America’s Mable Chan, Michelle specializes in international PR, working regularly with the likes of Oprah, Larry King, BBC, The Today Show and other major media. Contact her at PR blog http://www.StorytellerToTheMedia.com where she teaches tips from the trade.

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