Hi, my name is Martin Bauer.
Before this blog is about the topic of trust, I will tell you today how I came to change my business and myself and what the topic of trust has to do with it.
I have been in the digital business since 1996. That's when I founded my first startup Film. de, which I then successfully sold in 1998 and the rest in 2000. It was a cool time, the first new economy boom. in 1997, COCO new media followed as a digital agency. At the agency, we've worked for hundreds of clients and implemented endless digital projects, like countless website relaunches. At the peak, I had over 50 employees at both companies combined.
What has always frustrated me is the fact that client relationships in the communications industry almost always only last 2-3 years. Sometimes it's over again right after the kick-off project. Exceptions confirm the rule. But most of the time it is. On the one hand, this is bad economically because you have all the effort of acquiring new clients all over again and you can't grow as fast as you would like. But what has bothered me much more is the loss of relationships with people I have grown fond of. I am someone who always identifies very strongly with what I do. For example, we've been working for Zeppelin Caterpillar for years and I can't drive past a construction site without checking which construction machines are there. If there are Volvo or Liebherr machines, I swear quietly :-). With the vast majority of clients, I deal with very nice people, whether it's the management, the marketing staff or specialists from the digital departments. When we work together, I put myself out there. I try to do everything I can to make the company successful so that the employee achieves his or her goals and is happy. Most of the time I succeed. Nevertheless, after 2-3 years the relationship usually comes to an end. Why is that?
The communications industry, whether digital or traditional, is very superficial. You only have to look at the websites. The content is usually: We are the greatest and do the coolest things. Full stop. That's it. That is not sustainable. It also drags on. We can do everything. "Full service" is the buzzword for this. Although everyone knows it can't be true. The agency has won x awards. Although insiders know that primarily those win who have also made it to the jury. Way out in front in the turnover rankings? Although the people in charge then tell you that they put all kinds of turnover in there that has nothing to do with it. But in the long run, you can't make anyone happy with "we can do everything and do it best". I have always been very disturbed by this behaviour. At some point, everyone notices what is a façade and what is content. It was important to me that this fits together and that I create the basis for a long-term cooperation right from the start.
But it's not that easy to change that. If everyone tells you they're great at everything, you won't win the pitch if you consistently tell the truth. Especially if you don't know how to communicate your trustworthiness properly. I decided to change that and started to find out what is important for long-term relationships. How do you stay together even when things don't go perfectly? The answer is trust.
If you manage to build and maintain trust, people will forgive a mistake or a campaign that is not 110% convincing. That happens everywhere. I quickly realised that trust is not just a personal feeling. There are numerous influencing factors that are responsible for whether I consider someone trustworthy. To find these out, I bought all the books available on the subject and studied them in detail. There is a lot out there on interpersonal trust. But between organisations and companies? They are also made up of people. But what makes the head of an agency able to radiate trust? How can a whole company be organised in such a way that it is trustworthy? And finally, how can I communicate this in such a way that my clients get and keep the feeling that the company deserves trust?
I have identified a whole range of factors: Competence, which in turn is made up of expertise, process knowledge, experience and passion. Integrity, values, proximity, aura, results, transparency and consistency. Again, with quite a few sub-items. I will write about this in more detail another time. I know it is worth thinking about how you live these points personally and implement them in your company.
Subsequently, I included the trust formula with its trust building blocks as a fixed component in the workshops with new clients. They were so grateful to receive a structure that helps determine what content should be conveyed. And also often an impulse to think about whether it might not be worthwhile to write down the values in the company. Or to give customers more transparency into the company's processes.
The most important insights were economic on the one hand and personal on the other. The most exciting thing about the economic aspect is that the communication of the individual building blocks that promote trust have a great impact not only with existing customers, but especially when addressing new customers. Most companies work with passion, honesty, openness and always strive to bring the best results. But they communicate it too little. Who talks about their passion to develop something perfectly? Unfortunately, far too few. And when they do: BOOMMMM the new customer inquiries are increasing rapidly. It's been great to witness this over the last few years with some companies with outstanding content marketing examples. Based on this knowledge, I have developed workshops in which I now pass this knowledge on to others.
But the best thing for me personally is that focusing my work on the factors that are important for trustworthiness has changed me and my life in a positive way. More being than appearing feels insanely good. It is also relaxing not to have to be able to do everything all the time.
Trust is a value that cannot be overestimated as a person and as an entrepreneur. More on this in my upcoming posts.