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Trust Me Because You Trust My Friends

Buying usually involves taking a risk so if you can again a trust advantage, it can be enough to tip the balance from not buying to buying.

Recent research by Li Huang and J. Keith Murnighan published in What’s in a Name? Subliminally Activating Trusting Behavior (Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, vol. 111, no. 1) finds that trust can be gained from the people you are associated with.

This is an example of differentiation by who.

It seems that the process of trust often starts early and the names of associates is a form of shortcut decision-making. It saves the time and trouble about having to do our own due diligence.

And unfortunately it is this factor which leads to financial disasters like Bernie Madoff and his enormous Ponzi scheme. The fact that his family and friends were among the investors encouraged others to trust enough to commit large amounts of their own money to his fund.

Obviously I’m not saying you should use this trust factor to rip customers off but who you are seen to associate with and who recommends you can be a powerful differentiator. It shouldn’t be abused.

For more information on these ideas see Building Trust Through Subliminal Cues

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