The 12 Pillars of Trust: The Questions Your Customer Has of You As the Influencer in Your Industry

I recently traveled to Queenstown, New Zealand where there is a winery called Amisfield. I’d heard about this winery and it lived up to its reputation. It has a beautiful restaurant with incredible food, overlooking the vineyard and sitting on a beautiful lush green lawn. You can sit in the sun and look out to the surrounding snow-capped mountains. It truly is stunning.

In the restaurant, they have a concept called “Trust the Chef”, where diners let the chef decide what to cook for them based on the fresh produce available that day and what will complement the wines.

The day I visited I was with a few friends and we went for lunch. I decided not to choose the “Trust the Chef” menu as I hadn’t been there before. I thought “I don’t know what I’ll get. What if I don’t like it?” It was a bit like a mystery flight where you don’t know the destination, so I decided to choose my own order from the menu so I knew what I was going to eat.

When working with Thought Leaders, Trusted Advisors and Industry Experts I often find they are a little light on building trust with their audience. They sometimes expect the client to “Trust the Chef”, but the client isn’t always ready – particularly if it’s the first time the client has worked with them.

When building your branding and positioning as an Influencer that your audience can trust, you really need to consider two things:

  1. Where you focus your attention.
  2. How your clients make decisions.

Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung identified that people make decisions based on one of two things: one being rationale, results or outcomes; the other being feelings, emotions or values. When creating a connection with your audience, you need to ensure there is a balance of attention. Attention must be evenly spread between the audience and you as the Influencer.

In each of the four quadrants, there are three activities that build trust. These activities create the 12 Pillars of Trust and address the questions your potential client will have about you.


  1. Clarity: Is it clear who you help and what you help them with? Do you articulate who your ideal client is and your message? What category do I buy you in so I can engage you easily?
  2. Visibility: How easy is it for me to see you? Do you show up in the places I hang out? Do you actively reach out to people who need help?
  3. Monetary: The price you place on your services helps me understand the program and the value I’m buying. Am I buying economy, business class or first class? What is the value of your offer?


  1. Mastery: How competent are you? My situation is complex; can you really help me get results? Can you articulate the sequence of what to do next? Have you felt every step of pain of the journey I’m on? Have you made the same mistakes as me? How successful have you been on that journey and did you overcome obstacles? What collateral do you have that shows your mastery above others? Ideally, this is a book.
  2. Credibility: Your social proof is important to your buyer. What do others say about you in testimonials? Are you featured in places I trust? Eg. magazines, newspapers and events as a speaker. What outcomes have you achieved for others? Of those who recommend you, who do I respect? Do you deliver what you claim to deliver?
  3. Consistency: Do you contact me regularly to show me how you solve issues and demonstrate your expertise? Is your message regarding your area of competence coherent? Is it clear in the titles of your articles, blogs, videos, whitepapers and books?


  1. Validity: When finding more information about you, does what you say match what I’m looking for? Do your collaterals articulate my problem?
  2. Relevancy: How well do you know my world? Can I see me in you? Do you define my aspirations and who I am trying to become? Can I see how you relate to me and your ability to identify what I need help with?
  3. Controllability: How well do you take charge when things go wrong? Do you communicate and resolve issues? Equally, do you read the writing on the wall and remove yourself from situations that do not serve you? When I ask others about you, what do they say?


  1. Remarkability: What makes you unique? How does your uniqueness connect with my issue, values and personality? What part of me do I see in you that creates a connection and allows me to trust you? Can I get to know you? What experience do you create to help me feel as though I have met you before, so that when I do meet you, we can move the relationship and your program forward?
  2. Vulnerability: Are you open about your vulnerabilities? As Extreme Trust authors Don Peppers and Martha Rogers said: “What is our reaction when someone presents an image of great strength and complete control, with no weaknesses? We don’t trust them… If someone only presents strengths and accomplishments, we know they are not sharing with us the full picture. If they don’t trust us enough to share their weaknesses and vulnerabilities, why would we ever trust them?”
  3. Empathy: Are you non-judgmental? Can I be open with you and share what’s really going on? Are you sincere? Can I share my fears with you? Do you genuinely care and will you keep my information confidential

Not everyone scores high in all of these areas. But the 12 Pillars of Trust is a good place for you to start building trust in your branding, so you can have greater cut-through with your message as an industry influencer.

Love to know your thoughts.

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