Does your marketing inspire trust? Does your marketing demand authority?  The difference between trust and authority when it comes to marketing your small business is oceans apart. And although both are seen as desirable for a business to have, it’s only one of these that inspire the final step to purchase – trust.

So, what’s the difference between these two? Do we need both? And how do we stir these feelings in our prospects?

Good questions (if I do say so myself)!  So, let’s explore these a bit deeper to learn:

  1. What is the difference between Authority and trust?
  2. What action does each emotion inspire and why?
  3. How to inspire these feelings in our marketing?

What is the difference between AUTHORITY and TRUST?

Authority is usually defined within the sphere of management. However, in this context, we are discussing an organization’s authority in their field of business. For example, your audience accepts your power and ability to make decisions. A synonym that helps here is the word ‘control’. Authority in a subject can help you build awareness of your business. It can land speaking gigs, press, social media followers, and just overall attention. Having and alluding to having authority on a subject is a good thing for building your business.

Trust is defined as the belief or confidence in someone’s reliability and truth.  Trust is needed in a relationship and is a desirable trait in a business’s marketing. Trust can take a while to build and can be broken so it should be considered an ongoing value you strive to uphold. AS fragile as trust can be, it is 100% worth it. Sales are easier, there is better forgiveness around hiccups in service delivery, more referrals are given and the likelihood of customers turning into advocates is greater.

These are also differentiated by Google! They are referred to as ‘domain authority’ and ‘trustworthiness’ and your ranking on these (as well as ‘expertise’) will impact your page rank and overall SEO.

What action does each inspire?

Authority is often linked to a topic and the count of followers whereas trust inspires purchase. You will listen to an authority but may not necessarily trust them. This holds true in business too. Both are built over time, but only one (trust) is unique to the individual. And the individual has the power of their purchase.

How to inspire these feelings in our marketing?

Authority has to do with the quality of your content. I hear (and have seen) many say to ‘position yourself as a thought leader’.  I think many people do this which is why we are inundated with people claiming to have authority in this or that industry – but there is very little proof to that effect.

  1. Share testimonials

Having a variety of stunning testimonials from recent clients is a ‘must-have’ for any business but is particularly powerful in b2b.

  1. Social proof

Showcase your followers on social media using website plugins that allow you to invite them to follow you like these other happy people.

  1. Offer references

Make sure you have a minimum of three past clients that are willing to be a reference for you with an inquiring prospect. This doesn’t happen very often but it helps if you have these names handy and can offer them up without delay.

  1. Speak at conferences & include reviews or snippets of you speaking

Any public speaking event is an opportunity to promote your business and your authority. It’s like saying, ‘See? I know what I’m talking about!’ but in a less sales-y way.

  1. Show your relevance

Linking to press that you’re being mentioned or referenced in is a favourite and effective marketing tactic for many successful b2b companies. There are many ways to present this but it’s important to keep the list up-to-date and make sure it includes recent mentions and articles. A list of 10-year old articles isn’t helping you now.

  1. Show a list of high-profile (and happy) clients

Showing logos of your past clients on your website or on social posts is a standard piece of content in any website these days. I include both the known and unknown on my site – just to share the love.

Trust has to do with the validation of your content and offering. Trust is where most of your marketing should focus as trust will always come before a purchase. Your marketing should:

  1. Give value

Whatever you share (free or paid) should be valued. Not just because your time is worth money but also because what you are giving has a positive impact on their goals. This is especially true with content and any opt-in content you have. Make sure you have a clear understanding on what your prospects are looking for ad what they need. These may be two different things! Have up-to-date personas is key here.

  1. Show some personality

I’m still a strong supporter of keeping business and personal separate so I know this is one that I have to be deliberate on. Others are at the other end of the spectrum where they need to reign in their personal “shares”.  Either way, remember that it’s the person that people do business with and not the company. If they know more about you and if your messaging reflects those values and energy then you’re more likely to connect. This doesn’t mean you need to share personal details. It means you need to show your face, let them hear your voice. Show them your office space. Introduce the team. Invite them to celebrate wins – you get the idea.

  1. Empathize with pains

This directly connects with your sales conversion. Being able to pinpoint their biggest pains in business is the first big hurdle. The second is crafting it in a way that resonates with them. Having your target audience see that you understand what their problems are instills a trust in the solution you offer. The thinking is that if you understand the pain then your gain works to solve it.

  1. Listen to your customers

I know this sounds like common sense but getting feedback through different channels is key. Despite common thinking, customers need to go out of their way to complain. And if it gets bad enough to make that effort then the damage is already done. Get feedback early and make it easy for them to tell you how it’s going. HOWEVER, be prepared to respond. You can’t ask for feedback if you’re not prepared to do anything about it. So be clear on what you want feedback on and vary it with online survey, phone call, customer service end-of-call question, etc. Find a process that feels seamless and doesn’t put strain on things you already have in place.

  1. Follow through

The best for last. The best and easiest way to build trust is to simply deliver what you promised. Whether that’s a timeline, a service add-on, a price point – whatever. Many successful companies manage their client’s expectations by under promising and over delivering. Take a page from their book!

As you can see, both trust and authority are important to achieve and present in your marketing and business. Using them to your advantage will only bring you good things in your business. Good luck!