It’s undeniable that the landscape of local marketing has changed drastically over the past few years. Tougher competition, increased variety, personalized micro-marketing, and disruptions due to COVID-19 have all made for an overwhelming and continuously shifting consumer terrain that changes from minute to minute. Because of this, building trust within your local community is arguably more important today than ever before. 

However, with customer expectations higher than ever, how can local businesses keep up? Here are five proven ways you can build trust in your local community as a brand, regardless of the size of your organization. 

Get Active Online

Connecting with your customers is essential if you want to successfully grow your business and build trust. And these days, connecting with the modern customer starts online. 

As you likely already know, social media can be an incredible tool to spread brand awareness, build your brand identity, and increase customer engagement and communication. The key is to keep things local. Sites such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter can all help you connect with your local community through your own page as well as other organization and small business pages. 

When posting and engaging, stay current and personal. According to Wix, small businesses should use three types of hashtags: content, trending, and brand-specific. You should engage with posts customers are putting up about your product/service or business as well as posts put up by your city about local events and causes. 

Focus on Customer Communication

As we’ve already mentioned, customer communication is the cornerstone of any successful brand. Your customers should feel like they have a personal relationship with you. Good communication centers around three elements: personalization, convenience, and speed. And the last is particularly important. Around 42% of consumers expect a response to a complaint on social media within an hour. 

When providing the convenience modern customers expect, text messaging is the way to go. Text messaging boasts a response rate 209% higher than phone calls, emails, or even Facebook. It increases transparency, convenience, and personalization. Used correctly, it can also build trust in significant ways. 

text messaging stat

A great way to build trust through messaging is by using personalized promotions. Here, small businesses have the advantage. Did you know that consumers are 21% more likely to opt-in to local businesses’ text promotions over major chains or big-box retailers? And they’re 45% more likely to opt-in over online or eCommerce businesses. 

Small businesses have a unique trust with consumers. They can use that trust to collect opt-ins and then strengthen those relationships with well-timed, personalized messages. This can lead to higher loyalty, increased trust, and more revenue. 

woman reading reviews

Encourage and Respond to Feedback

While online presence and communication are crucial, do you know what type of brand marketing builds trust the most? Reviews. Reviews are the best form of brand marketing, by far. Approximately 95% of consumers read a review before they buy something. And consumers are turning to reviews more and more before they make a purchase. 

Reviews have a growing influence over consumer mindset and can lead to significant behavioral changes. In fact, roughly half of all consumers say they would travel farther to and spend more at a business with higher reviews. And 74% of buyers say positive reviews make them trust a business more. So, if you want to increase trust, encouraging and responding to reviews is fundamental. 

This also includes negative feedback. Yes, it’s an unfortunate reality that bad reviews happen even to good businesses. But how you respond can make or break your brand’s reputation; it’s another opportunity for trust-building. 

When responding to a negative review:

  1. Apologize. Regardless of what went wrong, show the customer you’re on their side by offering a sincere apology.
  2. Stay calm. Keeping calm with considerate, thoughtful language demonstrates that your brand is professional and controlled. 
  3. Offer a solution. It is important to offer a genuine solution not only to smooth things over for the customer who complained but also to show other online customers that you’re willing to go the extra mile for them and rectify any wrongs. 
  4. Offer to speak privately. To stem the heat, offer to take the conversation out of the public domain by telling the customer that a manager will contact them. This shows accountability and allows you the opportunity to understand even better what went wrong and how you can prevent it in the future. 

Show Passion for What You Do

Building trust in your community includes demonstrating your brand personality, and this centers around your brand identity. Brand identity includes all visible and less visible parts of your brand: your logo, name, tagline, and colors, along with your brand voice and reputation. Essentially, your brand identity is how you want customers to see you. 

Modern customers want to purchase from brands that are active in their communities, passionate, driven, and authentic in their brand positioning. Your brand position, essentially, is your value proposition. 

What makes you relevant and trustworthy in your customers’ lives? What core values do you uphold that they share in common? About 89% of US consumers will return to a brand because they share similar values, and most of them will choose brands that they know will treat them well. Around 79% of consumers also feel greater loyalty toward purpose-driven brands.

To show your customers who you are, put real effort into outlining and communicating your brand story. How did you come to be what you are today? What drives you? How do you contribute to your community? Taking ownership of your brand story will help you find your purpose in the narratives of your customers and build authentic trust. 

Attend (or Host) Local Events

Another key aspect of building trust within your community is attending or hosting local events. A foundational aspect of trust is visibility—you should be extremely visible to your customers not only online, but in in-person and community settings as well. Attending and hosting local events is how you build brand awareness and is crucial to cultivating personal relationships. 

Typically, you can learn about local events in your community through a quick online search. You can also team up with other local businesses to host events. Regardless of whether you’re attending or hosting, you should always demonstrate a strong brand identity. 

This is where the visible elements of brand identity really come into play. For example, your logo. Customers form an opinion of your brand based on your logo in as little as 10 seconds. After just five impressions, they remember your brand based on the logo. 

To establish an identity as a successful brand, show up consistently, be professional, and network authentically—especially with community members who aren’t patrons of your business yet. Community events can be the place where the most important relationship-building occurs. 

brand owners reading reviews

Building Trust Builds Your Brand

When it comes down to it, trustworthiness, in and of itself, is the most influential characteristic a brand can have. It shows that you’re part of something greater—you exist beyond your desire to profit. And, it connects you with the modern consumer in a way that almost nothing else can. 

Ready to get started building your brand? Podium helps you connect with your customers by simplifying the most modern communication methods, allowing you to provide a top-notch experience at every step of your customer journey. With multiple service channels that provide your customers with the communication options they want and a plethora of brand-building tools, you’ll be able to provide the level of service your customers expect—every time.

 Watch this demo to learn how Podium can help your brand build trust. 

Logan Wooden
Logan Wooden Product Marketing Manager, Retail

Logan Wooden is a Product Marketing professional at Podium, the premiere marketing and communications platform that connects local businesses with their customers.

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