It's a word that isn't used much in Internet marketing guru circles.

Instead the emphasis is on what I call 'look-how-smart-I-am' marketing.

Some marketers seem to think that selling is about tricking people into taking action.

Or if that fails, bribing them.

As this kind of marketer likes to say: 'The product doesn't matter. It's all about the marketing.'

I don't know who started this particular nonsense, but they deserve a special seat in the hot place down below.

The truth is the quality of what you offer matters and it matters a lot.

Here's why:

* Quality motivates repeat sales
* Quality reduces returns
* Quality stimulates positive word of mouth

In other words, offering quality makes you money because it does the one thing your advertising, no matter how clever, can never do:

It earns the trust of your customers.

I can almost hear the 'fly-by-night' gurus snickering. "Trust? Who needs that? I'm raking it in and I only need to have people believe me long enough to separate them from their money."

These folks have no faith in their products, in the customers or in the marketplace. Instead they base their businesses on gimmicks. Businesses based on gimmicks have a very short life.

The reality is that trust is the most important ingredient in building a business.

A radical notion, I know :-)

--- How trust works

Actually, you *already* know how trust works in a buying situation.

You experience it every day when you're a buyer.

If have two sources for a product, one you trust and the other you don't trust, which one are you going to buy from?

That one was easy.

How about this example:

What if the company you don't trust has a celebrity as its spokesman and the one you do trust doesn't?

Would that make a difference to you?

The answer it no. Celebrities generate attention but they can't overcome a perceived lack of trustworthiness.

Prospects are MUCH smarter than the gurus give them credit for. They know when someone's being paid to pitch a schlock product.

Now imagine that the company you don't trust offers you a discount. How big does that discount need to be to overcome the fact you have no faith in their product?

Pretty big. After all, who in their right mind would care about getting a 'good deal' on a product that doesn't work?

For example, how much would you pay for a TV that plays nothing but commercials? Less than zero, right?

What about bonuses?

In the Internet marketing world, bonuses are as common as grass, aren't they?

Here's the reality about bonuses: You can stack them as high as you want, but if your prospect doesn't believe you, he won't believe your bonuses either.

Bonuses work on prospects who *believe* your offer, but need an extra nudge to say 'yes.' Bonuses can't overcome a dubious offer or reputation.

--- So what's the 'secret?'

When it comes to earning trust, the secret is there is no secret.

Trust is something you earn, not with clever tricks, but by delivering on your claims and promises.

If you'd like a formula for earning the trust of your customers, here's a good one to follow:

1. Source or create the best product you can
2. Present it in a provocative and believable way, and
3. Deliver what you promise
4. Repeat

It's so simple and yet this one 'trick' - more than anything else - will make you a marketing 'genius' overnight.

Ken McCarthy has been teaching Internet marketing 'since the beginning.' His students and colleagues played formative roles in Netscape, Yahoo, Amazon and HotWired. Today he focuses his educational efforts on small businesses and bootstrap entrepreneurs. Info:

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