Building trust in construction marketing: Apologize for the rain

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"Rain-on-Thassos" by Edal Anton Lefterov - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rain-on-Thassos.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Rain-on-Thassos.jpg
"Rain-on-Thassos" by Edal Anton Lefterov - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rain-on-Thassos.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Rain-on-Thassos.jpg
“Rain-on-Thassos” by Edal Anton Lefterov – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

You can take this with a grain of salt (or a drop of water, perhaps), but at least one scientific study suggests you’ll achieve/build trust by apologizing for things outside your control, especially something that is essentially trivial.

Brendan Lee reports in Quora.com that, according to a 2013 study conducted by Harvard, Wharton, and UPenn researchers, simply apologizing for the rain made a stranger seem up to five times more trustworthy.

“Across our studies, we identify significant benefits to apologising,” the researchers concluded. “Superfluous apologies represent a powerful and easy-to-use tool for social influence. Even in the absence of culpability, individuals can increase trust and liking by saying ‘I’m sorry’ – even if they are merely ‘sorry’ about the rain.”

(Source: digest.bps.org.uk/2013/10/want-people-to-trust-you-try.html)

TrustThese observations relate to the paradoxes of imperfection in marketing; sometimes it is helpful for us to demonstrate our warts, limitations, and problems. Of course, these shouldn’t be issues that will be really serious and cause worthy clients to reasonably want to avoid us — but could be examples of issues caused by our success or specific market focus.

Humility has its advantages. And so, it seems, does apologizing for the rain.
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