Building The Circle of Trust With Customers and “Trust Agents”.

"Trust Agent" by Chris Brogan & Julien SmithA couple of years ago, I was given this piece of paper with an excerpt for a book that I would soon purchase called Purple Cow written by an author that I’ve come to value and respect his opinions – that being Seth Godin. Ever since, I’ve tried to use that as a mantra for what I do…create something unique – a purple cow.

So when I heard that another trusted marketer was writing a book, I thought it would be interesting to pick it up and read it. So what made this book so fascinating that I’d have to just share it with you? It’s all about trust. You’re trusting me to share insights and observations about marketing and the Internet and I’m trusting that you’ll like what I have to share.

This great new book is called Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust and is written by two knowledgeable thought-leaders in the marketing industry, Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. In perhaps one of the first major discussions about the subject of the book, I was fortunate enough to hear Brogan and Smith speak just a couple days ago at Gnomedex about the steps needed to ensure a trusting relationship.

I’ve read through Trust Agent and find it a heavily insightful, example-ridden, higher-level thinking piece of work. It’s not about public relations or advertising. Instead, it’s all about how to build rapport and relationship. Yes, we can throw around authenticity and transparency all we want, but the focus in this book that Brogan and Smith make is in order for you to have customers and businesses believe in you, there needs to be some trust involved. If you’re expecting this to be all about social media, Twitter, Facebook, how to gain more followers in 60 days, you are grossly mistaken. Instead, it’s a business book. It’s going to allow you to focus a lot more on the strategic part of marketing and bring everything back to the humble beginnings of “how do you have a relationship?”. In other words (and I’m taking this off of Brian Solis’ and Deidre Breakenridge’s book title), it’s emphasizing how you put the “relationship” back into “customer relationship”. There is a human side of it all…it’s not that hard to bring it back to that.

Don’t worry about reading this book and also expecting it to be a lecture book. It’s not. There’s humor, plenty of knowledge and case studies – including those by Greg Cangialosi (Blue Sky Factory), Jared Goralnick (AwayFind.com), Gary Vaynerchuk, Beth Kanter, Liz Strauss, and many more. What I found pretty helpful is at different parts of the book, Brogan and Smith insert “Action” items that you can look more into and gives you a good starting point on how to follow through with that respective step in the trust process.

But what is this trust process? In Trust Agents, it’s broken down into six areas:

  • Make Your Own Game
  • Be “one of us”
  • Archimedes Principle
  • Agent Zero
  • Human Artist
  • Build an Army

I’m not going to ruin the book by explaining these steps, but I will say that each of these areas are very ingenious and can be very effective when done.

With a little over six chapters, Trust Agents is a well-thought out book that will surely give any reader a better understanding on human relationships and how the web can be used to be more effective in shaping that understanding and authority. And let me leave you with this parting thought. Having read the book, I’m definitely keeping Trust Agents on my bookshelf right next to Seth Godin’s Purple Cow. I’ve tried to live my career behind Godin’s book, but now I’m also going to include the teachings in Trust Agents as well. That, my friends, is the truth. It’s that good and that’s why Brogan and Smith are rockstars.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the stories of the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently the Technology Editor at Flipboard, where he observes what's happening in the space while also identifying new topics of interest. In addition, he co-hosts the weekly internet show "The Created Economy," which focuses on what's happening to creators and influencers. Previously, he was a reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding. Ken also has a newsletter you should also subscribe to called "Filed."