It’s commonly accepted that people buy products and services based on emotional triggers. Only after the emotional trigger has been pulled will consumers then try to use “logic” to justify the purchase. That’s why – when you’re writing copy with the intention of “selling” something – you first try to pull the emotional “trigger” and then provide “evidence” to justify the purchase.
In order to gain access to those emotional buttons – it’s essential that the marketing materials engender a level of “trust” with a prospective customer or client. Sometimes – in the case of minor sales – this level of trust can be achieved quite easily – a professional site design or a BBB label for example. However, in the case of a major sale – the type of sale that any independent service professional is making – achieving that level of trust can only be achieved by providing lots and lots of “evidence”.
One of the reasons blogs are powerful business building tools is that they offer quick, easy and lasting communication. One of the most potent uses of a blog is creating authority. In that post, I defined authority as trust + power… the power to motivate people to take action.
Adam Singer writes in his blog post Influence, Trust And Authority
Trust is a gray area to measure using quantitative metrics. Measuring an idea as subjective and nuanced as trust is difficult because you can never escape the simple fact that trust is relative. Someone may have a personal blog with only 20 readers, but those 20 readers soak in every word and trust the author deeply, taking any calls to action suggested and studying each word carefully. That person may be more trusted by their small, but loyal following than far more popular bloggers with greater numbers.
In his example, Adam is showcasing a common scenario in the world of business blogging where a “small time” blogger has engendered a high degree of “authority” with a relatively small audience.
In the post “Trust is not Transitive” I wrote about how it takes quite a while to build trust and how trust is not easily transferred from one person to another. While Andy Beards’ readers trusted him – they weren’t ready to instantly “trust” some of his recommended resources. Andy had achieved a level of “trust” with his extensive blogging audience – and when he used his blog to sell his products and services – his audience was responsive. However, when Andy began recommending other resources – his readers did not respond. Andy had achieved “trust” with his readers – but hadn’t reached “authority” status with his readers.
Building a level of trust that is transitive is what I refer to as “authority” – the ability to recommend products and/or services beyond your control and have your audience act upon your recommendation.
Cath Lawson demonstrates just such “authority” in her post about making money online by selling what you know. In her post, she not only promotes her own ebook Write an Ebook in 7 Days – but she also promotes the ebooks of other authors as well. In our whole “trust vs authority” example – Cath’s post will effectively “sell” her ebook to readers with whom she has established a certain level of trust. Meanwhile, Cath’s post will sell the ebooks of other authors to readers with whom she has established authority.
That’s an important distinction which the “get rich quick with blogging and promoting affiliate links” gurus frequently overlook.
In order to sell the products and services of others with your blog, you need to establish a level of trust known as authority.
Eric Holmlund has clearly demonstrate the power of how powerful blogging authority can be in his post “Am I liable for this – you be the judge“. Eric shares an email he received from a reader who hired a copywriter – Nicolas Cole – based upon Eric’s recommendation in an earlier blog post. Long story short – the copywriter didn’t deliver and the reader was asking Eric for a refund, because after all – he wouldn’t have hired Nicolas had Eric not recommended him on his blog.
When I first saw the post – it had over 700 comments. Forty eight hours later, that number had grown to over 900 and when the dust settled the number of comments had grown to over 1000. Imagine having hundreds of prospective clients gathering in one place to debate whether or not someone who recommended your services should offer a refund because you didn’t deliver. Talk about an online reputation nightmare in the making!
However, beyond what was happening to Nicolas Cole’s online reputation – notice how the reader hired Nicolas and paid him over $1300 to write copy based solely upon Eric’s recommendation . Whether you think Eric was liable or not – the reader obviously felt enough of a connection with Eric to act upon his recommendation without further research. This is an clear illustration of the power of authority. Eric built a such a connection with a virtual stranger powerful enough that when he recommended a copywriter – the reader hired him and paid him over a thousand dollars to retain his services.
You don’t build that kind of a connection with strangers in a few blog posts. It takes time and it takes consistency. Eric has been blogging regularly since 2006 and this particular recommendation was from a post dated October 2009 which Eric then went back and revised.
Creating authority with your business blog does NOT happen in the matter of a few posts but it does happen. It begins by creating a level of trust with your readers – and then slowly but surely progresses to a level of authority. By the way, that kind of trust is only created when you overcome your business fear of sharing.
Only when you’ve created trust with your readers will they open themselves up enough to allow you to pull the emotional triggers which encourage them to purchase your products or services. If your marketing efforts are falling flat – it’s time to take a good hard look at whether you’re doing what it takes to establish trust with your target audience.