The secret weapon of small business is trust

Double exposure image of many business people conference group meeting on city office building in background showing partnership success of business deal. Concept of teamwork, trust and agreement.

Unilever’s Chief Marketing Officer, Keith Weed, once noted, “A brand without trust is simply a product, and advertising without trust is just noise.”

Given the challenges of COVID-19, trust is at a premium and small-business leaders are in a unique position to turn it into customer loyalty and community engagement.

The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer frames the powerful opportunity awaiting small business owners and leaders. With a growing trust gap and its global decline, people are looking for leadership and solutions as they reject talking heads who they deem not credible. This year’s study shows that business is also the only trusted institution with a 61 per cent trust level globally and the only institution seen as both ethical and competent.

So, what fosters trust in business? Moreover, what can you do to translate customer trust into repeat business, referrals, and a community of brand promoters?

Trust defined by a fishmonger

Johnny Yokoyama is the founder of the Pike Place Fish Market, a 1400 square foot fish stand in Seattle, Washington, featured in multiple best-selling leadership books and training videos.

Johnny defines business trust as, “An asset business leaders build every day with our teammates and customers. It is born from integrity, and it means we do the right thing even when it costs us.”

He also believes that business owners should be making regular deposits into the trust account of those customers, through the form of community involvement and investments that help both staff and customers to grow and succeed.

Leading a trust revolution

David Chiem is the Founder, CEO & Executive Chairman of MindChamps – a company founded in Sydney, Australia.

Since opening its first preschool in Singapore in 2008, MindChamps has rapidly expanded and transformed early childhood education in countries such as Australia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Myanmar.

David believes that trust fuels growth. “We have seen unimaginable success by focusing on six core themes,” he says. “Those themes are reflected in the acronym CREATE. Specifically, we focus on being: consistent, realistic, excellent, accountable, team-based, and energetic.”

In addition to driving trust, these two businesses gently remind their customers that their long-term success depends upon referrals. Those reminders activate customer loyalty and add rocket fuel to each brand’s meteoric growth.

So, how do your customers view your trustworthiness? What deposits are you making in the trust accounts of team members and customers? How would your customers rate your consistency, realism, excellence, accountability, teamwork, and service energy? Most importantly, how are you turning customer trust into purchase behaviour and referrals?

On a global scale, the trust bubble has burst. Fortunately, as governments, corporate executives, the media, and even clergy lose trust, you and your business have a transformative opportunity to drive loyalty, community, sustained success, and significance. Now is the time!