All successful relationships must have a strong foundation of trust, both in our personal and professional lives. But building trust doesn’t happen overnight.
It evolves over time as you nurture the relationship with your audience, exemplifying your core values through your actions and demonstrating that you are worthy of their trust. As a brand leader, the way you present yourself and communicate with others is of paramount importance.
Let’s take a look at what it means to ‘TALK backwards’, and how you can leverage it to create meaningful, long-lasting relationships with your audience.
What is TALKing backwards?
Flipped backwards, TALK refers to ‘Know, Like, Advocate, Trust’.
These are the four building blocks of a solid relationship between a company or brand leader and their audience.
Each level must be ‘completed’ before moving on to the next, building momentum and gently nudging your audience along on their journey from lead to prospect to client/customer.
It’s unlikely that we will trust someone just after hearing them speak — first, we have to get to know them. Let’s take Apple as an example of how each stage develops and builds on the last.
First, we become aware of the brand and its products. We might see an ad on TV or hear a friend talking about their new iPhone, and our interest is sparked. We start to recognise the logo and associate it with the brand. We decide we might like to get one of these products for ourselves, so we do a bit of research and start to get a feel for the brand.
Now that we are familiar with the brand, we begin to like it; the look and feel of the products, the features and the price point. We also begin to admire the brand leader and enjoy hearing them speak. We like their aura, the way they present themselves, and the way they consistently uphold their ethos and values.
At this point, we become an advocate of the company and its leader. This means that we actively support, encourage and promote the brand. We introduce them to our peers and vouch for the quality of their products and customer service. Essentially, we become unofficial brand ambassadors.
We finally reach the highest level: trust. At this point, we don’t hesitate to buy the latest product because we know it will be the same great quality we have come to know and expect. We are committed to the brand and loyal to the brand leader. For as long as the element of trust remains intact, we will continue to support and invest in the company.
Love the product, love the leader, love the brand
Somewhere between stages 3 (Advocate) and 4 (Trust), ‘like’ turns to ‘love’ — not the same kind you have for your partner or family, of course, but a unique type of love that encompasses more than camaraderie.
You have moved past the stage of ‘casual flirting’ and are deeply committed to the brand. You love everything about them, from their presence to their products, beliefs and values, and you trust that they will continue to meet or exceed your expectations.
Trust is hard to gain but easy to lose
We might not stay in this stage forever, though. A masterpiece takes a long time to build, yet it can be lost in an instant.
Brand consistency is crucial — for example, at some point we might find ourselves disappointed with the quality of the latest release, or maybe we have a negative experience with customer service.
Perhaps we discover that the company is engaging in illegal activity, or we come across a video of the brand leader acting in a way that doesn’t reflect their core values (as we understood them anyway!). We become disillusioned and start looking at alternatives, thus starting the process of TALKing backwards all over again.
Once broken, trust usually doesn’t return to the same extent. It will be harder for your audience to go back to advocating for you, and even harder to go back to liking you. Once all of those levels have been eroded, all that’s left is knowing you — and that’s not enough to close a sale or generate a profit.
How to maintain trust once you’ve earned it
So, what can you do to keep the relationship between your brand and your audience healthy and strong? How can you nurture it and cultivate a foundation of advocacy and trust?
It all comes down to the consistency of branding and personal presence — repeatedly confirming to your audience that you are worthy of their trust.
Every moment is a moment of truth; an opportunity to communicate authentically with your audience and prove yourself to be the type of leader they can put their faith in.
The importance of core values
Knowing yourself and staying true to your values is the foundation of successful leadership.
What do you stand for? What does your company stand for?
As a brand leader, your personal brand and your core values must be in alignment.
Once you’ve identified your core values, let them serve as a compass, guiding you to act and speak with clarity and integrity. Every time you communicate or make a decision that is aligned with your values, it helps to consolidate your reputation as a trustworthy leader.
Converting the 94%
Not everyone is going to love you, your product, your service, or your brand. When it comes to your audience’s sentiments towards you, there is an old saying:
- 3% of the audience will love you before you start to speak
- 3% of the audience will hate you. They hate everyone and everything.
- 94% of the audience are undecided — you want to convert them over to the ‘lovers’ side of the audience.
So, how do you convert that 94%?
By TALKing backwards to them: you let them get to know you and your brand, consistently deliver value, help them find solutions to problems, and finally, instil trust in your company, your brand, and in you as a brand leader.
To learn more about this concept, as well as executive-level persuasion, influence, selling and networking, take a look at our Sales Discovery Programme today or take a look at the other programmes we offer to help you and your team to develop their Executive Presence.