• Matthew Lerner

How to Build Brand Trust

Here’s the best way to win visitors trust (hint - it’s not Trustpilot). Do your prospects have "trust issues?” That's nothing compared to what Chris Voss faced as an FBI hostage negotiator! He built his entire career earning the trust of armed kidnappers and terrorists. (Which makes our job look easy!)


That’s why I love his book Never Split the Difference.


Voss knew that nothing else mattered if he couldn’t win peoples’ trust, (As a startup, this principle applies to you too!) And so, he neutralised mistrust with a trick he called an “accusation audit.”


During a hostage situation, Voss would call out the kidnapper’s doubts and uncertainties in bold unequivocal terms before making his counterarguments. For example, Voss might say, “It probably seems like I’m just stalling for time…”


Then I realised: You can have the same results in your marketing, here’s how:


First: Interview your recent signups and make a list of their top anxieties. Ask them, “What concerned you about our solution or other options you considered?” Then write down their exact quotes.


Don’t generalise their answers using abstractions like, “Worried about hidden fees.” You need the full venom of their specific language—e.g., “I thought you guys would try to screw me with extra costs since your contract is long and everybody in your industry competes on price.”


Second: After your interviews, list out the 2-5 top anxieties, and write each one as a strongly worded challenge or question. Think of it as a “Super-harsh FAQ."


For example:

  • If people question your price, say: “Sounds expensive, is it worth it?” or “What other penalties and fees will you sneak into the fine print?” or “This sounds too cheap. What’s the catch?"

  • If people wonder about customer service, ask: “After I sign up, will you still be available to answer questions? Or are you off to charm the next prospect?”

  • If you want to show some results from other customers: “Does this even work? Who else has used it?”

  • In B2B, where people worry about organisational adoption, you could say: “What will my colleagues think? Will people actually use this?”


The key is to make the accusation sound as harsh as anything they could dream up, or even harsher. People appreciate that level of honesty. Obviously, once you’ve connected with their anxieties through your question, de-fang them with your counter-argument or proof point — i.e., testimonials, claims of great support, pricing, etc.


Most sites have all of these proof points already but they sound bland and generic. Make them much more engaging by setting them up with bold statements formed by your “accusation audit.”


Where should this section go on your website?

We suggest introducing this towards the middle of your landing page, or on your pricing page. You want people to find this stuff after they’ve figured out what you do, and they’re assessing if they should move forward or not.


If you want to see an example, check out the landing page for our Coaching Programme, and scroll down to the section called “Is It Worth It?”


Cool stuff, eh? And you don’t even need to give us a cut of the ransom.


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