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The Oxygen that Start-Ups need is called TRUST.

Trust is cultural, contextual…but always critical. No transactions happen without TRUST.

Consumer trust in your brand used to come by consistency of product delivery, built over years and years. A century of performance. Think Coke, Pepsi, Unilever.

But what brands took decades, some like Airbnb, Uber, Google are doing in years. How?

What are MY LESSONS IN BUILDING TRUST with consumers?

  1. Understand that the need for trust comes from a consumer’s need for a product. If I don’t need a washing machine, why do I care if Whirlpool is a better brand than LG? If I am not searching for something, why do I need Google? If I don’t need a learning app for my child, why do I need to trust Byju’s?
  2. The Trust a consumer needs depends on the pain a bad purchase will cause.
  • Poor education for my child.
  • Poor treatment for my family
  • A TV that burns out too fast
  • Clothes that don’t last Or a Rs 20 pen that doesn’t write well

So for each product or service, the risk and pain of a bad purchase determines how much trust is needed for a consumer to buy. I don’tneed to trust Luxor as much as Fortis Hospital or Byjus’s

So how can a Start Up, that has A ROBUST PRODUCT build TRUST quickly?

Choose what works, but here’s a good list.

Use established platforms to create FOUNDER CREDIBILITY- This works for high value services- SAAS/ Consulting/ Hi-Tech

  1. Does Linkedin allow you to create trust on the founder’s professional qualifications?
  2. Make purchases easier and risk free (insure against failure)
  3. Build cases studies of success- get one large client
  4. Third party validation sites- Trust Pilot / Trust Radius
  5. Is there a well known advisor on the board/ a VC/ any prominent name that has invested?

Use established tools to create SERVICE CREDIBILITY- this works for relatively low ticket size purchases. For e.g., Consumer goods/ Personal Care

  1. Generate trials- make usage RISK free (money back guarantees, Cash on delivery/ discounts/ Free Trials)
  2. Use consumer reviews and testimonials
  3. Get reviewed by industry experts (influencers)
  4. Get packaging right- this is the first contact of the consumer with the brand and a significant roadblock to her decision to purchase.

As my own platform is trying to solve for Trust, it’s a topic close to my heart.

If you know something that has worked for you, do share. May the new year give us more opportunities to learn from each other, experiment and grow. And build TRUST, that elusive Oxygen on which all of Startup life depends!


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