3 Marketing Pitfalls that Erode Trust


Avoid 3 Marketing Pitfalls that Erode Trust. Ever since I was a kid, I always had a story in my head. I love knowledge, wisdom, and, of course, stories. Today, my writing empowers speakers and other thought leaders to become more known, trusted, and remembered.

We’ve all met those passionate, insightful souls with so much to say about how they’re changing their corner of the world. Maybe they’re mavericks, and some people might even view them as just a little bit crazy, if they come along wanting to disrupt an industry.

Here’s the challenge: expertise and experience alone won’t get them where they want to go. Instead, they must continue building trust so they can fulfil their purpose. Let’s face it: if your prospective clients or customers aren’t getting into deeper conversations about what you have to offer, and they’re not signing up, then they probably don’t yet trust your solution. If your audience is not asking questions, or if you feel they are not satisfied with your answers, then it just might be time to tell a different story.

Now, here’s the problem: I’ve seen so many marketers erode that all-important sense of trust. Let’s talk about three of the ways and how to avoid them.

1. Over-Promise and Under-Deliver

Living in the age of advertising means being bombarded with what I like to call big-promise marketing. Because emotions and intuition are so powerful, marketing gurus often extoll the virtues of language that appeals to these qualities within us, rather than our logic. If a product, service, or idea could ever be a quick fix to an important problem, it can be tempting to use emotional marketing claims to spread the word. Unfortunately, all too often, this approach results in a perception of overblown and unkept promises. So, how can we influence jaded consumers like me to trust in the abilities of those service professionals or companies who honestly obtain the superb, speedy results they dangle in front of their prospective customers or clients?

Since consumers can’t always predict whether someone will deliver on amazing marketing claims, perhaps it’s better to simply stay away from the big promises, even when they’re genuine. Such promises just might unnecessarily squash any chances of the doubting prospects saying yes. Instead, we can educate consumers while telling stories that boost credibility. A wide variety of approaches can work, and especially those I like to call journey stories.

One type of journey story is speaking or writing about how overcoming certain challenges, misconceptions, or missteps positions you to better help others. It’s ironic that even as a writer, I used to be extremely reluctant to share personal stories, and especially those that required mention of my blindness. However, as I learned to view my various challenges from a strength-based perspective, I came to realise that they have made me the person and writer I am today. Because I faced my fear and now enjoy the benefits of embracing my own personal story, I am in a better position to inspire my writing clients to do the same.

2. Grandiose Testimonials Only

Another type of trust-building story is a testimonial or case study. Sometimes, people will use only their best case studies, also known as outliers. While this can enable prospects to envision possibilities, it can also cause problems if you only have grandiose testimonials, rather than experiences that people can easily buy into.

Keep in mind that, in order to buy from you or to buy into your ideas, a reader needs to believe that they can be the next success story. A listener needs to hear their own situation in the stories you tell, and especially in the case studies or testimonials you present. It’s important to convey likely outcomes alongside any of those rare exceptions you choose to share. Possibility marketing works well, as long as prospects believe in possibilities that can actually happen for them. Present anything less, and you have lost their trust.

3. Overusing Corporate or Otherwise Cliché Language

The third marketing pitfall is the language we use to attract our audiences. Corporate or otherwise cliché language can undermine the message. For instance, think about all the times you’ve seen mentions of “premium” products, “industry leaders,” and “excellent customer service.” We can trust in those claims only if we get some sense of the true stories and facts behind them.

It’s easier to believe in the integrity of a company when we see examples of how and why they do right by their customers. Claims of customer service excellence become easier to swallow when we get a behind-the-scenes, storied look at the processes that create this exemplary culture.


Be careful of big-promise marketing, grandiose testimonials, and overuse of clichés or corporate language. Instead, it’s best to build trust through genuine storytelling, using relatable language and examples that suit the particular audience we want to reach.

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As the founder of WiseWordsThatMatter.com, Krista Giannak is passionate about uncovering clients' untold stories, sharing real impact through the written word. Having once shied away from her own personal journey, she now speaks about her experiences facing fear to become a skier, who happens to be blind. Clients say that she inspires them to leverage their own challenges and wisdom to build trust and boost the credibility needed for success. From blogs to bios, e-books to e-courses, website content and more, Krista crafts customized content for the right audience. Her work has garnered media coverage for her clients in local newspapers and on television stations such as CBS 2 and FiOS 1. Her journalism background includes feature articles published in local newspapers, magazines, and a hospitality industry trade journal.