Avis ran a whole ad campaign for several years based on the fact that they were NOT the number one company in their industry.
We're number two. We try harder.
They stood naked to the world. We are not number one. That admission was enough to garner a whole lot of trust. Any company willing to admit something like that so boldly shows that they have nothing to hide.
The Currency they were spending was Reputation and Prestige. They put their reputation and prestige on the line, told everyone their warts, and used it to their advantage. End result? Their market share rose from 10% to 35%!!
Admitting your flaws or shortcomings may seem counter intuitive to getting people to trust you, but in reality, it can be one of your most powerful tools to earning that trust. They say honesty is the best policy, right?
Being honest about your flaws is simply the right thing to do. Admitting when you made a mistake wins the heart of the customer. They know you made a mistake. You know you made a mistake. Trying to cover it up or ignore it only builds distrust and resentment.
Everything and everybody and every business has flaws. No one and nothing is perfect. When you try to show that you are perfect to everyone, they see right through you. They know there is a downside. They will be looking for the downside whether you tell them or not. So go first. Tell them the downside to doing business with you before they start looking. Tell them the downside to the product you're trying to sell them. The upside of telling them the downside is that they are more willing to trust everything else you say.
- Admit your mistakes and shortcomings.
- Tell them the downside.
Building trust doesn't cost as much as you think. You just have to spend the right currencies.
PS Patagonia is another example Tom Wanek used in his book. They were a multi-million dollar company when the owner realized his company wasn't lined up with his own personal values of being environmentally conscious. He totally revamped the company and lost a lot of business in the process. But he gained a lot of trust, too. That trust is what led him back from the brink. His customer base basically said, "Anyone willing to take so much heat and so many financial losses to run his company in a way he could be proud is someone I can trust to do what he says he'll do."
PPS You don't need business examples to know this is true. The media and celebrity world give you all the examples you'll ever need. Admit the scandal and people forgive you. Deny the scandal and the storm never blows over.