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  • Writer's pictureBrad Cochrane

The Power of Unconscious Trust

More people trust Amazon than their own banks.

--Bain Loyalty in Banking Survey 2018

What does your bank do for you?

Do you have a personal account? Do you use it to pay for goods and services? Do you carry your bank’s credit card in your wallet? Amazon does all that and more; it’s already your bank. Amazon has earned your unconscious trust and has become one of the largest financial institutions in the world.

How Amazon did that is a great lesson for your business as you navigate the turbulent waters of social media.

Today’s online world is filled with customers actively researching every little detail about your product as well as your competitors. But the real decision is made when they search out reviews and comments. They believe in the intelligence of the community and are listening to what is being said about your product and company. They are looking for quality, ease of purchase, and responsiveness. So it’s less about the product and more about the experience.

Amazon very cleverly understands that its business model is not selling stuff. Rather, it’s to get customers what they want as easily and quickly as possible. Two-day shipping. One click shopping. On demand movies. The list goes on. Through daily demonstration of its mission, Amazon has created unconscious trust.

Unconscious trust is transferable, that is, if you can cultivate it on one area, it will bloom in another. So by cultivating consumer trust in delivery, Amazon benefits when consumers trust them with their money.

In fiction writing, there's a device known as “Saving the Cat.” It’s an incident in which the main hero proves their worth by doing something noble and demonstrating their character. In my storytelling workshops, I name this the Character Storyline, that is, the story about you that customers have internalized. In Amazon’s case, it’s not just saving the cat, it’s delivering the cat with overnight shipping.

Unconscious trust can also work against you. During the Great Recession, consumers experienced a visceral reaction against the big banks. Abandoning them in droves, they flocked to the credit unions. Unconscious distrust of big city banks and unconscious trust in local credit unions changed the face of the financial industry.

Now, Facebook wants to be your bank. It’s introducing Libra, a digital currency. Whether people adopt this won’t be the technology, but rather the unconscious trust consumers place in Facebook. This is an open question as Facebook struggles with consequences of failing to protect data as well as misuse of the platform.

If you think that your social media marketing is about adding more likes, more followers, or more email addresses, then you’re missing an opportunity. Social media marketing isn’t even about selling. It’s about using the social media conversation to build unconscious trust so that your customers will believe in you without giving it a second thought. Be honest, authentic, transparent. Put customers first. Demonstrate character. Trust.

And remember, if a customer asks the question, “Do I trust you?” then they don’t.

Brad Cochrane

The Story First Speaker

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