Show Customers Why They Should Trust You Using proof can help establish strong relationships with your customers.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Star Pulse

In their book No B.S. Trust-Based Marketing, authors Dan S. Kennedy and Matt Zagula detail strategies to build and maintain trust in your business, and in turn attract both customers and profits. In this edited excerpt, the authors detail ways to prove your concept and establish trust with clients.

A new business looking to market new products can often point to proof of its worth by popularity and sheer numbers. Even celebrity or celebrity endorsement can stand as proof in many consumers' minds. An excellent educational exercise is to become interested in and alert to all the different ways that advertisers and marketers present proof. A good tactical exercise is to apply as many different kinds of proof to your marketing as possible.

There are five basic kinds of proof:

  • Proof of concept
  • Proof of personal relevance
  • Proof of promised benefits and outcomes
  • Proof of superiority
  • Proof of concept

Here's advice on how these concepts often can play out in company's marketing.

1. Before you can be trusted, your concept must be trusted. Too often, we erroneously take for granted acceptance of the underlying concepts that drive our businesses. In a financial-services business, for example, the concept of having a single, trusted financial advisor coordinating financial plans, investments and funding of retirement is assumed. But what if the prospect isn't yet convinced that a single advisor is necessary? In a business coaching service, many people too quickly leap past acceptance of the concept to selling their particular programs, when, the concept of having a business coach hasn't yet been sold.

Another way to think about this is that your concept must be trusted before you can be trusted.

Related: 7 Steps to Landing and Profiting from Celebrity Customers

2. Make sure your concept resonates with your client personally. Just because I accept financial planning or business coaching as useful, proven concepts, doesn't mean that I accept them as good for me. I may accept that many need and benefit from a financial advisor, but feel that I won't. Perhaps I feel that I have too small a nest egg, or am uncomfortable delegating authority, or am too old and needed that help earlier. Proof of concept is foundational, but it needs to be connected to proof of personal relevance.

Believable testimonials from people in the same situation, with the same concerns, in sufficient number, can serve as proof of personal relevance. But there are many ways to prove this too, and all should be utilized. If, for example, we are trying to convince a senior to begin using Facebook, we can use statistical facts: The fastest-growing segment of new Facebook users is people over 60 years of age and older. We can focus on feature that appeal to seniors: a different way to scrapbook, involvement with grandkids or keeping up with old friends who live great distances away. We can create a diary of a new Facebook user's experiences, that user matched with the senior we're trying to convince; we could even engineer personal demonstration and use a free trial of a few functions set up for the person.

Related: How to Find and Win Over Comparison Shoppers

3. Show, don't tell. Obviously, to buy, buyers have to feel very confident and reassured, if not rock-solid certain, that the promised and hoped for benefits and outcomes will occur for him.

This is why marketers selling $4,000- to $20,000 mattresses created The Dream Room in their store (, where a customer checks in and enjoys a nap for up to 4 hours, in a luxury suite, in complete privacy, complete with milk and cookies. You really can't trust a mattress after just stretching out on it for a few minutes; you can only trust it after you've slept on it. Yes, again, a plethora of customer testimonials are very helpful. But the only real proof is in the sleeping.

When I was seeking new clients for speaking engagements, I invited hard-to-get meeting planners to my speaking events. If I had to travel to speak for a client's group, I wanted several prospective clients who might book me in that audience, to witness the benefits that they might want: my prowess, the audience's enthusiastic response, etc. Client testimonials were a useful tool, as can be CDs and DVDs, credibility and books. But nothing serves as better proof than experiencing the outcomes that the prospect desires.

4. Be the most trusted. Once a prospect has accepted your means of meeting a need or desire as a proven, safe concept, he will quite naturally wonder what other providers and choices may be available. The issue of choice will always arise. Many tactical tools apply, but virtually everything is linked to proof of superiority, because the ultimate superior position is "most trusted."

5. Offer a preponderance of proof. In battle, it's best to have overwhelming force. The battle for trust in decidedly un-trusting times, to be secured from anxious, skeptical, suspicious, worried and mistrustful prospects, is best waged with overwhelming proof. That means three things: quantity, quality and diversity. The last may be the pathway to greatest advantage: providing as many different forms of proof in each of the above four categories as you possibly can.

Related: Richard Branson on the Secret to Exceeding Customer Expectations

No B.S. Trust-Based MarketingThis article is an excerpt from the book No B.S. Trust-Based Marketing available from Entrepreneur Press.

No BS Trust Based MarketingDan S. Kennedy and Matt Zagula are the co-authors of No B.S. Trust-Based Marketing: The Ultimate Guide to Creating Trust in an Understandably Un-Trusting World, published by Entrepreneur Press in 2012. Kennedy is a strategic adviser, marketing consultant and coach in Phoenix, Ariz. Zagula, a Weirton, W.Va.-based financial consultant, leads a national advisory practice.

Editor's Pick

Related Topics


The Coolest Way to Commute Is Less Expensive Than Ever

Gift yourself a better commute with $1,500 off this eBike.

Business Ideas

55 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2023

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2023.

Thought Leaders

6 Tips From a Clean Beauty Entrepreneur

Sarah Biggers went from a newbie in the natural beauty space to a pro in just a few years. Here are six things she wishes she'd known at the beginning.


How to Start a 'Million Dollar' Morning Routine

Restructure your morning with a few simple steps that may help to amplify your energy.

Money & Finance

Want to Become a Millionaire? Follow Warren Buffett's 4 Rules.

Too many entrepreneurs are counting too heavily on a company exit for their eventual 'win.' Do this instead.