Trust-Based Marketing

How afraid of heights am I?

Well, let’s just say that if I were any taller, I’d be scared to stand up straight.

And so during a recent trip to Costa Rica, when my wife and two sons asked if I wanted to join them in a paragliding adventure, my first response was, “I believe you have mistaken me for somebody else.”

After all, if cleaning the leaves out of our house gutters (on the first floor) causes my hands to sweat, I can only imagine what kind of deluge of secretion would occur from a thousand feet up.

But, I thought about it for a little while and concluded that this is the kind of fun, family activity we would all be talking about for years – I didn’t want to miss out.

So, the next day, the four of us showed up at the pick-up spot and they drove us up the mountain.

If you’re not familiar (I wasn’t), paragliding – not to be confused with parasailing, sky diving, or hang gliding – involves strapping into a huge, rectangular parachute and jumping off a cliff. (Stand by, I need to dry my hands.)

The good news is that you are attached to another person.

Unfortunately, that’s also the bad news, because you just met this other person about 15 minutes ago and between you and me, they don’t even look old enough to drive.

But, as that celebrated Rubicon-crosser and daredevil in his own right, Julius Caesar, famously said, “the die is cast.” So off the cliff we went.

And you know what? Not scary at all. Quiet, peaceful, just kind of floating around until we landed gently on the beach below about 20 minutes later.

Trust is Not a Given

Since that day, I’ve given a lot of thought to trust (and life insurance). More specifically, what allowed me, with all my fears, to move ahead?

I think it came down to three things, all of which also relate to how prospective clients decide to commit (or not) and work with professional service providers like us…

#1. Professionalism.

From the quality of their web site, to the confident way they talked, to the obvious care they took in setting up the gear and getting me strapped in, I knew I was in the hands of experts.

For example, my guide said, “The parachute is going to lift up, it’s going to pull us back a few steps, and when I tell you, we run forward and over the edge.” Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened.

Your prospective clients are likewise eager to experience your confidence. And while hiring you may not be as frightening as jumping off a cliff, rest assured they too have concerns.

Which means that you need to remove any red flags from the way you present. Things like…

… using a Gmail address instead of a custom domain;

… having a web site that looks like it was built in 1994 by your 12-year-old nephew;

… not being clear and confident when explaining how you work, how you price, how the project is going to unfold, etc.

The more confidence you can demonstrate, the more likely they are to lock in and run with you.

#2. Original Content.

The paragliding company’s web site isn’t just staff bios, FAQs about logistics, and explanations of how paragliding works – although it has all that.

It is also filled with video. But not generic paragliding video – it’s custom video of the exact same location with the exact same guides. More confidence, more trust building.

The analog (SAT word!) in your professional service business is original content. So while it’s fine and necessary to show credentials, process, experience, etc., none of that gives me a window into how you actually think.

Blogs, newsletters, special reports, free downloads, original videos … all of these things that you create and share, do.

#3. Testimonials

A quick check of Trip Advisor for Zion Paragliding revealed 168 five-star reviews out of 171 reviews given. Granted, it’s kind of a binary thing, since presumably, those who would have left one-star reviews are all dead.

Nevertheless, reviews – or testimonials in our world – are very compelling. They are mini-case studies of people who took the leap and are happy they did.

You don’t need a million of these – 5, 6, 10?  But the more you have on your web site and LinkedIn profile, the more confidence a prospective client will feel in deciding that you are a worthwhile investment.

Here’s the bottom line.

A quote that sustained me in my early days working for myself was, “Leap and the net will appear,” from the book, The Artist’s Way.

It’s a great motivator for risk-taking and back then it helped me believe that walking away from a secure job and paycheck was a good idea.

But the truth is, it doesn’t make a lot of practical sense. Most people – your prospective clients among them – first want to have a good look at the net.

The more you can do to assure them that it’s safe, secure, and maintained by someone who actually knows what they are doing, the faster and more likely they are to sign on.

See you at the landing spot!

Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you ever gone paragliding? Where did you do it?
  2. You have to admit, “Deluge of Secretion” would be a pretty good band name.
  3. How big a role does trust play in your getting hired?

Share your answers below…

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12 thoughts on “Trust-Based Marketing

  1. Harold Waisel

    1) Never went paragliding. Don’t know if I ever will.
    2) Excellent name for a thrash metal band
    3) Trust is important for everything. I’m currently working on updating my website and trying to build that trust through a pane of glass is challenging.

    Also – Harry Chapin was my first concert, I think in 1978. I played his live album over and over and over.

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Great Harry Chapin memory. I still remember standing in the driveway of parent’s house hearing on the radio that he died on the Long Island Expressway, which was just a few miles away.

  2. Eri Zeitz

    1. My hands got all sweaty reading your account. I often have to pause before getting on an escalator that is going down! And then I watched your video and I’m still recovering from feeling shaky.
    So your story had quite an effect on me. Trust matters. I believe you.
    So no, I’ve never gone paragliding, but maybe….if I get the chance.

    2) Yes, a great name for a metal or early punk band.

    3) I think trust plays a role. From my limited experience, it’s people I know for the most part, and have met in real life who subscribe to my newsletter (link below). And the ones who actually pay to read it —and I just started it this year in Substack, are people I really know well.

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Very interesting on the substack aspect. Any insights gleaned since putting it up there as a paid thing?

      1. Eri

        I think you have to publish a lot more than I am doing currently in order to make anything like a living, that’s one thing. The first people who paid for subscriptions were my two best friends. And I didn’t ask them to… they just did.
        The next couple of subscribers who paid made that decision on the strength of what I started writing about my son, an autistic adult.
        I decided to publish on Substack because, all the courses in the world would not help me actually write and publish if I didn’t do it.
        Substack seemed like an easy way to start building a following and an email list. Learning how to do it…by just doing it is a lot of fun.

  3. Daryl

    1. Never went paragliding and likely never will. But I felt l like I jumped off a cliff when I started my consulting business. It didn’t help that the stock marked crashed the same day (1987.)

    2. Awesome name for a band.

    3. Trust plays a huge role. Was once advised the two biggest questions potential clients have are:
    (a) Can I trust you to solve my problem?
    (b) Can I trust you to not make me look like an idiot to my boss?
    It takes both credibility and visibility. Your sound advice addresses both.

      1. Daryl

        Long suspected our launch was the straw that broke the camel’s back. We also noted the FIRST day in business was the WORST day in business

        1. Michael Katz Post author

          I definitely think there is something to that. I started in the spring of 2000, right in the middle of the dot com crash. But when you start during bad times, as things pick up, it only gets easier!

  4. Charles Alexander

    1. Nopers. Been parasailing with the same underage group though.
    2. Yessir. Right up there with Your Mom Replies to All.
    3. Yuuuge. This is true with coaching and Explainer Videos, both. I rarely ever make a sale that doesn’t involve someone reviewing a lot of my personal content and a phone call.

    My music professor in college was obsessed with Harry Chapin. He told the story of his death more than once and teared up every time.


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