Hi, my name is Martin Bauer.
Before this blog is about trust, I’m going to tell you how I changed my business and myself and what trust has to do with it.

I’ve 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, I founded COCO new media, a digital agency. In the agency, we worked for hundreds of clients and implemented endless digital projects. 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 last only 2–3 years. Sometimes it’s over again right after the kick-off project. Exceptions prove 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 customers 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’ve grown to love. I’m 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 to see what construction machines are there. If there are any from Volvo or Liebherr, I swear quietly :-). With the vast majority of customers, I deal with very nice people, whether it’s the management, the marketing staff or specialists from the digital departments. Then, when we work together, I get stuck in. I try to do everything I can to make sure the company is successful and that the employee achieves his or her goals and is happy. Most of the time, that works. However, after 2–3 years, the relationship usually comes to an end. Why?

Often because I disappointed them. That pissed me off. The communications industry, whether digital or traditional, is very superficial. You just have to look at the websites.

The content is usually: We are the greatest and do the most awesome things. Period. That’s it. That’s 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 also made it into the jury. In the sales rankings right at the top? Although the people in charge then tell you that they put all kinds of sales in there that have 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”. We were not much better. At some point, everyone realizes that it’s more of a facade than content. I didn’t want to go along with that any longer.
But it’s not that easy to change that. If everyone tells you they’re great at everything, you won’t win the pitch with the truth. I decided to change that and tried to find out what is important for long-term relationships. How do you stay together even when things aren’t going perfectly? The answer is trust.

If you manage to build and maintain trust, you’ll forgive a mistake or a campaign that isn’t 110% convincing. It happens everywhere. I quickly discovered 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 organizations and companies? After all, they’re made up of people, too. But what makes the head of an agency able to exude trust? How can an entire company be organized in such a way that it is trustworthy? And ultimately, how can I communicate this in a way that creates and maintains the feeling among my customers 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. With, again, quite a few sub-items. I will write about this in more detail another time. I know it’s worth thinking about how to live these points personally and implement them in the company.

Subsequently, I included the trust formula with its trust-building blocks as a fixed component in workshops with new customers. They were so grateful to receive a structure that helps determine what content should be conveyed. And also often an impetus to think about whether it might not be worthwhile to write down the values in the company for a change. Or to provide customers with more transparency into the company’s processes.

The most important insights were on the one hand economic and on the other hand personal. The most exciting thing about the economic aspect is that communicating the individual building blocks that promote trust not only has a great effect on existing customers, but also on new customers in particular. 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 was great to witness this in the last years with some companies. Based on this knowledge, I have developed workshops in which I now pass this knowledge on to others.

But the best part 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’s also relaxing to not have to be able to do everything all the time.

Trust is a value that can’t be overstated as a person and an entrepreneur. More to follow in my upcoming posts.

Martin is a content marketing and trust expert, trust building coach and digital entrepreneur. https://www.coco-content-marketing.de