Do you trust me?
Trust is everything. Entrepreneurs are merchants of trust. More than any other group, except perhaps therapists. So this topic is near and dear to my heart.
Entrepreneurs need trust like a fish needs water – in deal making, customer satisfaction, investment and more.
Cutting edge research has put a spotlight on trust and everything that matters in business.
For the first time ever, we can now reveal the precise factors that spark trust in human minds. The minds of our customers. Trust at a chemical level.
This may affect your marketing/capital-raising/sales strategy. Read on…
Enter Paul Zak, neuro-economist and researcher, whom I was lucky to have lunch with last Saturday. Props to Nick Tarascio for making it happen.
Here’s what Fast Company had to say about the guy’s work:
In a series of studies spanning nine years, Zak has changed our understanding of human beings as economic animals.
Oxytocin is the key.
Known for years as the hormone forging the unshakable bond between mothers and their babies, oxytocin is now, thanks largely to Zak, recognized as the human stimulant of empathy, generosity, trust, and more.
It is, Zak says, the “social glue” that adheres families, communities, and societies, and as such, acts as an “economic lubricant” that enables us to engage in all sorts of transactions. Zak is a walking advertisement for oxytocin; his vanity license plate reads OXYTOSN, and he hugs virtually everyone he meets.
The hugging isn’t just a gimmick. I got the chance to listen to Zak speak at length on the subject and hugging, like social media interaction, is one of the simple actions that boosts oxytocin levels. And this guy has the lab results to back that up.
Zak’s research has proven that high oxytocin levels facilitate trust that not only bonds mating pairs, it also aids in commerce.
The implications for business are huge. At one end, Zak’s economic theories suggest that high oxytocin levels increase trust across large populations. His idea is that economic growth relies on overall levels of trustworthiness and that therefor the wealthiest nations consist of those with the highest oxytocin levels.
Love, it seems, creates wealth.
How to create neurological trust
What Zak’s research shows us is that human connection, as real and tactile as possible, boosts oxytocin levels. When your customer’s oxytocin levels are high, they’re more likely to trust you and buy your stuff. It’s simple.
The archetype of business success in the 20th century was the faceless corporate monolith – the aging, wheezing remains of which we still see today.
McDonalds, Microsoft, Walmart and all the big brands were founded on the principal of “as little humanity as possible”. Absolutely everything that couldn’t be totally automated was documented so rigidly that staff might as well be robots. Or at least idiots. Luckily for the captains of industry, idiots aren’t hard to find.
The emerging science around oxytocin indicates there is a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs.
By building businesses geared to increase the “human” component, we can make our customers feel more connected. Not less. Social Media and the internet let us scale this connection.
The more connected to our customers we are, the more oxytocin they produce. Customers bathed in oxytocin spend generously and feel great about it.
As the blog reading, social media savvy entrepreneur that you probably are… you might think you have this principal locked down. You’re already doing this, right?
Are we? The de-humanizing habits of entrepreneurs are hard to break.
To humanize is to build a business around people. Why then do we work so hard to think up that perfect business name or logo?
Would your face and name be more oxytocin inducing than yet another slick piece of graphic design?
Should The Shrink for Entrepreneurs be more “Peter Shallard” than anything else?
I’m sitting, writing this article in a Manhattan apartment. My shiny computer monitor has to be propped up on three copies of Michael Ellsberg’s “Education of a Millionaire”…. because it’s low angle was hurting my neck earlier. I had chicken wings and some mango for lunch and cleaned my entire apartment while thinking about how to write this article.
I’m a human. My name is Peter. Do you feel it?
Is that more real than whatever the spectacles-and-pen, golden wallpaper design of my site made you think?
As a writer, it’s easy for me to humanize. I just have to be real. Creating a human, oxytocin-a-licious connection is much more difficult for big businesses.
Customer service staff trained in “processes” become automatons. Ditto sales people following a script. We, the customers, have to feel like someone cares enough to connect.
“The personal touch” has a neurological reaction that is proven to make us open our wallets.
Entrepreneurs take heed. Account for oxytocin in your marketing plan!
Take a look at Paul Zak’s TED talk on Oxytocin, Trust and Morality… then let me know what you think in the comments below.