Remember when you used to actually have a set of encyclopedias at home? I do, as a child. Did you find them interesting? There was information and photographs in our encyclopedia sets that we didn’t see anywhere else. We loved our encyclopedias. And we loved information.
The golden days of the “information age” are quickly waning. We’ve had all the information, marketing messages and news that we can take. What I find fascinating about my children – they are not bothered by the rolling waves of information hitting them constantly. They’ve learned to tune it out. Speaking of, most adults have as well.
I’ve heard it expressed this way:
We’ve moved from the ‘information age’ to the ‘referral age’.
We – you and I and your customers – no longer need to soak up information before its gone. Information is there – it isn’t going anywhere. Now, we ignore it… until we need it.
At that time – the time of need – we seek out information. But we are looking for trustworthy, reliable information and we’re very savvy at determining what is and what is not.
Indulge me this illustration:
Just last month my husband wanted a new hairdresser. We know very few people in our city and fewer that speak English. So he went to Yelp. He read reviews of other people, selected a salon, got a haircut. His haircut was great. But their fees are 50% more than I wanted to pay for a haircut. Next time I needed a haircut, I went there too.
Why would we go to a hairdresser that charges more than I would like? Because my husband had a great experience and received a great result. Why did he go to a completely unknown (and unadvertised) hair dresser? Because of referrals. And in this case, they were referrals from people he didn’t even know. But he’s savvy enough to select reviews of places at a website like Yelp, where the business has no say over what is published about them. He got what he felt like were honest reviews.
Chris Brogan, in Trust Agents, coined the phrase Trust Agents. The trust agent in the example above would be Yelp. They facilitate the referral process.
Is your website – is your business – are you - a Trust Agent?
You become a trust agent by doing a few simple things:
- provide relevant content to your audience
- provide value in that content and with all your interactions with them (don’t just try to sell them stuff, odds are they aren’t looking)
- become the authority for your niche/market
- be remarkable (so that your existing clients/readers remark!)
Simple? Yes. But not easy.
Keep up the work, keep up the content, keep up the optimization. In the end it pays off!