About a year and a half ago, I began to really intentionally use my messaging and marketing to speak to the people who had already “been through the wringer” in the online business world and were now looking for support to truly build their business, their way. One of the side effects of doing so is that now we have an amazing community of humans who are really drawn to the way that we talk about and do things here at WholeCo—they sense that what we’re doing is radically different to the approaches they’ve been taught in the past—but who are a touch more hesitant to take the step into another investment.

Why? Well…because they’ve been through the wringer in the online business world, have made some investments that didn’t work out so great—or sometimes were flat out traumatic—often where the coach or strategist or leader person tried to force them into a box of what they/their business “should” be. Which, spoiler alert, didn’t feel great nor did it work, and so now they’re just a touch more cautious before investing than they used to be.

(Side note: us business owners often forget just how much power we have to influence the particulars of the audience we attract, and that power originates in the words we’re using to talk about, market, and sell our stuff. Which is why we want to be ultra intentional in the words we’re using and conversations we’re hosting, but more on that in a sec.)

I’m a huge proponent of people being really intentional about their investments. At the same time, when you recognize that your audience is a bit hesitant to take the step and invest, not because of you per se but because of past investing experiences, you need to adapt your strategy to speak directly to them. And not in a “I need to convince you that I’m ‘not like the other guys’” way (because, yuck), but in a way that genuinely meets them where they are at and cultivates trust through consistent trustworthy actions.

Yes, it’s a lot like any relationship: if you want people who have been ‘burned’ in the past to trust you, you’ve gotta do a lot more than just say the right or smart-sounding things. You’ve gotta actually do the things that communicate what you truly stand for and how you truly operate. And that’s a bit of a long game, but one that will always be worthwhile. One, because it just feels better, human to human, but two, because showing up in this way is CRUCIAL to long term Sustainable Success.

It’s from that that we have really gone all in on a few strategies to help build the level of trust with our audience that empowers them to make informed decisions about what they’re investing in. Decisions that they can truly feel great about. And because I know that I’m not the only business owner with an audience who is a bit more hesitant to buy these days, I want to share what those are. Not in a, “You need to do this too” way, but in a, “Look external for ideas and internal for answers” (the WholeCo Motto) way.

Trust-building strategy #1: Offer plenty of free and low-cost resources, in a variety of mediums.

Each day, week, month, and quarter we put out a LOT of content here at WholeCo. And not just quick inspiration posts or little B-roll videos, but like…

In-depth blog posts. Podcast episodes. Multi-day live events (that are usually free)

We also have a bunch of free resources on our website as well as low cost courses and programs. Heck, even our signature program is “cheap” by a lot of standards in the online business industry.

In all of it, we give a LOT away. We do all of this in part because I like creating new things (lol), but also because doing so gives our community ways to connect with us/me and really see how we approach building Sustainably Successful businesses. In turn, this allows them to suss out: is Carly actually someone that I want to work with? Do our values, ethos, and approach align? Will this person care about me as a human, or am I just going to be a dollar in their bank account as soon as I sign up?

Now, do I think that you have to put out as much content or have as many freebies and low-cost offers as we do? Heck no. And if I was earlier on in business, there’d be a LOT less, purely for the fact that ~all of these things~ weren’t the highest priority, and rightfully so. (An abundance of access points needs to only become a priority once you’ve already become great and delivering your work and you have a steady base of revenue underneath you.) But even in that case, finding live ways for people to interact with me in a way that also contributed to bringing clients into the work I was working to become great at delivering would have—and was, for me—would need to be a priority.

Trust-building strategy #2: Give access to me.

There was a period of time where I really bought into the notion that the more successful you are, the less access people have directly to you. Which, sure, is partially true—I just don’t have the calendar space to do as many sales calls or 1:1s as I used to, for example—but not to the extent that I thought it had to be watching and learning from many “more successful” business owners who were once ahead of me.

However, I’m not sure that there’s a better way to really earn the trust of your community than actually showing up and communicating with them. And not just when you’re selling something, but continuing to be there and show up all throughout the journey (before and after the sale). 

A few ways that we do that here at WholeCo:

  • Provide support to our clients across our live programs in one central place, the WholeCo Facebook group (which shows our whole community what type of support they can expect from me/my team)
  • Invite people during sales periods to email or Voxer me to talk through whether that particular program is best for them (if you’ve ever started one of these conversations with me, then you know we go deep and that I only make a recommendation to join when I can confidently explain exactly why I’m doing so)
  • Record and send a custom video when people complete course onboarding surveys (yes, even if that course is only $9 and/or they got it for free in a bundle or something)
  • Gift all of our clients in LIVE programs lifetime access to our private client podcast (in which typically at least one of our three episodes per week are “behind the scenes” of things happening here at WholeCo)
  • And of course there’s the obvious ones like hosting Voxer Office Hours, Q&A’s, 1:1 coaching sessions (even in mid-tier group programs), and Group Coaching sessions with our clients

Trust-building strategy #3: Go deep.

I was recently tagged in a post in which people were asking for examples of great marketing. The person who tagged me shared that my marketing was always “lengthy” and had “no spin,” both of which I took as a HUGE compliment. In fact, one of the biggest reasons why I share (and advocate for) long-form content is because it allows me to go into the nitty gritty and help people really see whether I’m talking to them or not, and if so, exactly what I’m saying.

In some ways, sure, it’d be easier to do faceless Reels with a text overlay—which, by the way, can absolutely be a useful part of a holistic marketing strategy—but the community we’ve built and are building here at WholeCo aren’t looking for surface-level (which is all you can fit in something so small). They’re looking for the real deal. I need to meet them in that search with depth and nuance. Not with trite advice or “top tips” that could have been given by anyone online (including ChatGPT).

Does it take more time, energy, and even in some ways money to create longer form content, and do so consistently? Heck yeah. But when I think about what my real goal is in my marketing—to connect with Right Fit people so that I can invite them into right-for-them work that I know reliably facilitates the intended results and therefore contributes in so many ways to the world I wish to see—and then in my business as a whole—to see more people truly served by the business they’re building, that challenges them, that is fulfilling for them, that empowers them and the people around them to truly thrive, that grows and expands their consciousness and self-concept, that delivers great things into the world and contributes to the world they wish to see—well…

I think it’s worth it to create the longer and more in-depth content that actually speaks to and calls their attention to the work that I’m doing, no?

Trust-building strategy #4: Know exactly who you’re speaking to and speak exclusively to them.

But here’s the thing, if my only goal was to go deep, there’s still no guarantee that I’d be going deep about the things that truly matter and are relevant to the amazing humans who’ve chosen to hang out in the WholeCo Community. Heck, I could be going deep on any number of things, so why the ones that I’ve chosen (such as this very post: how we cultivate trust with our community)? 

Because we know who our Right Fit client is, and we only speak about things that matter to them

Some might read that and think a few different things:

#1 – “Ugh Carly I’ve tried talking to my Ideal Client but I still feel like I don’t really know them!”

#2 – “But won’t I be excluding a bunch of people if I only talk to one Right Fit client?!”

#3 – “Well that sure could be self-abandoning, only talking about things that matter to them. What if what matters to them is boring, unfulfilling, or even against what you believe? What if it’s outside of your expertise?”

Firstly, an “ideal client persona” is only one of four components of a Right Fit client—and the least important part at that. Which means that if you’ve done a lot of ideal client work and you still don’t feel like you know them well enough to speak directly and exclusively to them, well, it’s because you only know ¼ of the information that you need to know about who your Right Fit client truly is.

Second, when you DO know who your true Right Fit client is—which includes someone who is an ‘ideal client’ but also someone who is best-positioned to succeed in your work, ready-to-buy, and physiologically ready-to-transform—and you begin speaking exclusively to them, yeah…you’re going to exclude other people. But that’s kind of the point, because when you know who your true Right Fit client is, you know that that is the type of person who will most reliably see results in your work, so why would you want to bring anyone else into your work that is less likely to see reliable results in your work?

(Side note: a Right Fit client-approach actually feels WAY more expansive than an Ideal Client-approach to building businesses, because Ideal Client personas tend to focus on all the least important details like demographics and broad psychographics, that have literally no bearing on the work that you do.)

And finally, when it comes to the whole “self-abandoning” question, a HUGE part of identifying your Right Fit client is that they’re a true Right Fit for you and your work. Meaning: they align with your values, appreciate your approach, and LOVE the way that you do your work. It’s not molding yourself to be someone they want, it’s finding someone who truly—to be cliche about it—”loves you for you.” So no, talking about things that they care about isn’t choosing them over you, it’s choosing both you and them.

When you can speak directly into your Right Fit clients’ present lived reality, it becomes easy for them to trust you, because you’re literally talking about things they’re experiencing in a way that will leave them wondering, “How did they know!?” 

Trust-building strategy #5: Say what you mean, mean what you say.

All of the above trust-building strategies are great, but none would be valuable without this final piece.

Because let’s face it: you could know who you’re speaking to and talk only to them. You could give people access to you and really go deep. You could offer all sorts of entry points into your work. But even with all of this, if you don’t actually follow through on what you say you’re going to…any amount of trust you’ve earnt is now out the window, and is very unlikely to ever be regained.

This is where solid offers alongside transparent and magnetic messaging and marketing come in. I was talking with a client recently who is a website designer about the common phrase that a lot of website designers use in their messaging, “turn your website into a lead generation (alternatively: money-making) machine.” That phrasing had never sat well with this client, because the truth is: the best design on a website can’t, on its own, turn it into a “money making machine.” Sure, it can contribute to a business making more money, but it cannot make the business make more money, and all sorts of things also have to be true about a client in order for that outcome to happen.

It’s really easy in this online business world to overstate what results our offers can create for or with our clients. In large part because everybody does it. But if we want to build real trust with our community, we need to say what we mean and mean what we say. And yes, sometimes that means getting nitty gritty about what you are promising.

For example, when talking about our content marketing incubator, Marketing Magnified, we used to use messaging that promised some version of, “create content = get clients.” (It’s been so long now since we changed that particular messaging, and I don’t seem to have records of it, so I can’t remember the exact language we used to communicate the concept.) These days, the messaging for Marketing Magnified is that it will “equip you to bring Right Fit, ready-to-buy leads directly to your digital doorstep.” 

It’s almost the same thing, right? But not quite. Because in our previous messaging, it presented that the program would take you all the way through the process of “creating content to selling to hearing the ‘yes’ on the sales call (or similar).” Except Marketing Magnified doesn’t actually teach you what to do on a sales call, it teaches you how to move people in your audience to actually book the sales call. Or, as we now state it, to bring Right Fit people to your digital doorstep. (You still need to welcome them in and take them through whatever your sales process may be.)

Notice also that word “equip.” It’s one of my favorite in messaging, because it speaks honestly about what I can actually do. I can give you the tools, but I can’t actually make you use them. I can teach you the best, most effective way to use the tools, but I can’t actually guarantee that you won’t use them for entirely different purposes or in entirely different ways. Some different ways will be great, others might not be. What I can do however is equip you. That’s it (in a coaching and consulting incubator container, that is).

I know it all seems small—these are indeed micro shifts—but isn’t it the tiny things that compound over time to build real trust between humans, anyhow? Plus, I can now stand confidently behind what I’m saying when I’m talking about, marketing, or selling Marketing Magnified, because I know that I’m “promising” something that I can and do actually do.

Wrapping Up

I’ll be honest, there are a lot more things that we do here at WholeCo to build trust with our community, but these 5 are some of the biggest. Now I want to hear from you: what are you already doing to build trust with your audience? And what do you want to start doing that you also currently have the capacity to do?

Let me know over in the WholeCo Facebook Group.

By the way, we’re just a few days from kicking off 2024’s only LIVE round of our content marketing incubator, Marketing Magnified. If you want to attract Right Fit, ready-to-buy clients through extraordinary and effective content, on every platform you market your business on, then come and join us right here.

Handy Links:

Carly Jo Bell of WholeCo Media - Headshot@2x


I’m Carly Jo Bell.

(Though you can just call me Carly.)

Carly Jo Bell is a business strategist and mentor, and fonder of Whole Co media. Through her courses and programs, podcast, and one on one coaching, Carly helps pulled-in-every-direction entrepreneurs create a business that brings in as much joy as it does revenue — by cultivating deep self trust, and solid foundations as the first step.

For more from Carly, and to learn about her signature “looking external for inspiration, and internal for answers” approach, join the conversation by signing up for her weekly email series, Carly's Couch.


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