16 min read

Book: No B.S. Trust Based Marketing by Dan Kennedy (10/10)

If you’re trying to make high dollar engagements + you’re trained in direct response… you need less hype and ostentatious offers, more credibility, prestige, and exclusivity.

This book will get you there.

Get No B.S. Trust Based Marketing: The Ultimate Guide to Creating Trust in an Understandibly Un-trusting World


My notes and highlights below.

1— Trust-based marketing as the path to wealth
2— Trust without trying is no longer enough
3— Underestimating the difficulty of the task
4— What do clients really want to know?

Nine things most of us are trying to figure out — consciously and subconsciously — before making a significant purchase or investment with a new provider:

  1. Is this guy for real? (authenticity)
  2. Is he telling me the truth? (believability)
  3. Is he knowledgeable and competent (credibility)
  4. Is he appropriate for me? (feasibility of relationship)
  5. Is he listening — or just peddling? (customized solutions)
  6. Overall, can he be relied on? (safety)
  7. Do I understand (enough about) what he’s going to do for me? (comfort)
  8. Am I making the best choice vs other choices? (superiority)
  9. Am I paying a fair price? (value)

Reagan may have been one of the greatest salesmen.

Walt Disney was a great marketer, great salesman, and great public spokesperson for his enterprises.

Everybody has at least one character trait that is authentic and genuine, that can be magnified so the clientele’s attention is focused on it, and that is generally beneficial in selling and, specifically, contributes to trust.

Ex – For Walt, it was his authentic enthusiasm. For Reagan, it was clarity and plainspoken simplicity.

All the evidence in the world can’t trump a context of believability attached to the person making the assertions.

Ex – I can’t make up for the lack of (a) followed and benefited from advice, ( b) know someone / people who have, (c) existing trust relationship, (d) established reputation and track record with slicker, better salesmanship. That’s why creating your own context of believability and selling to well-prepared prospects is so beneficial.

Hurried, “slam dunk” selling — somehow hurrying a prospect from expressed interest to a sales pitch and a close — is, I think, a tough, stressful, unpleasant, and severely limiting way to make a living or conduct business.

Suspicions and worries about competence get in the way of trust and sales a lot. Often, demonstration can be helpful here (17—). Seeing work in progress to finished, successful outcomes can be very helpful, and showing it is an under-used strategy.

Every consumer is trying to figure out: Will MY needs be met by THIS person?

[code language=”plain”][/code]

[code language=”plain”][/code]

Lay claim to that same positioning [stand for safety] without waiting 100 years to get there:

  1. Rent the known, respected, trusted brand. [ex — speaking with Zig]
  2. Substitute for the trust triggers you lack [ex — safety in numbers to replace safety triggers, longevity or familiarity]

It is impossible to feel safe if you secretly feel stupid. It is important to keep in mind that most people are eager to delegate responsibility to a trusted stand-in, in matters of finance, health, many major purchases, child-rearing, gift selection, etc. but they have to feel comfortable doing it.

No one likes feeling they are overpaying and few are comfortable with simply squandering money. [even the most affluent]

5— How not to be another salesman

If you don’t want people assuming yo are a threat to them, you can’t appear as a salesperson. If you don’t want to elicit alarm, you can’t seem like a salesperson.

Top ten ways people know you’re a dangerous salesman:

  • The shelf of trophies, the wall of plaques or equivalent display
  • Too easily and readily accessible
  • Too pliable
  • Too eager
  • Pushy
  • Obviously trying to hurry the prospect
  • Overconfident and glib, with a quick-triggered answer to everything
  • Pushing products (vs diagnosing needs, offering custom solutions)
  • Evading or altering questions
  • Using sales tools

The problem with this [being instantly, easily, and always accessible] is how badly it lowers your status which makes you untrustworthy as an advisor.

Positioning matters to trust. A lot. So, there must be a process that people go through to gain access, and some delay in getting access, unless your business phone number is 9–1–1.

Excess eagerness telegraphs need and desperation, and needy salespeople make prospects nervous.

Ex – Salesman has a brochure. Expert has a book. Salesman has a fancy slide presentation. Doctor engages in dialogue, diagnoses, and prescribes, often making his points on a pad of paper.

There was no way to buy the product until after these videos. This facilitated trust in me and in the value of my information before a proposition was ever made.

“Principe of the delayed sale” — By first being a provider of information, the trust-based marketer intentionally (and courageously) delays presenting propositions and asking for money, in favor of building authority, affinity, credibility, fascination, and as outcome, trust.

Ex – If you ask Sean Greeley, who sells area-exclusive business development services to operator of gyms and fitness centers at fees as high as $100,000, he will tell you that he deliberately delays these sales.

My process has forever been deliberate delay of the sales conversation.

Trust in me has been strengthened three ways;

  1. I did not behave like an eager salesman
  2. I had a set, definitive process in place for moving forward
  3. I “forced” the client to become (more) familiar with me in advance of any sort of sales conversation

The critically important objective is, as Matt puts it, to show up like no one else.

6— The Suze Orman Factor

Great marketing and trust building is gained more rapidly through ethical alignment with the loved whales in your own industry. Don’t try to position yourself as better; instead, agree and expand.

The guy who wrote the book is the definitive expert.

Both celebrity and authority can be created. Both can be manufactured through effort and / or purchase.

Business is really all about power. To be great in business you have to be perceived as having power. And the public equates trust with power.

Someone, somewhere, came up with the idea that “the customer is king.”

But the customer doesn’t really want to be the king. The customer wants to find the person who is the best at what they do and hire them to be their king.

So you need to be the king and you need to position yourself accordingly.

Suze offers you a clear road map to success. Honestly, most business owners won’t follow her lead because it’s a lot of work, it costs money and MOST significant of all is that they lack the internal belief system to accept a position of authority and celebrity.

7— Publish or Perish

The word “author” is in the word “authority.” There is no more essential a tool to authority than authorship.

One of the very first things I’ve done every time I’ve entered a market is write and publish a book on a subject of specific interest to that market.

8— All media is NOT equal

9— Creating trust online — pipe dream?

Trust building isn’t a sprint, it’s an ultra-marathon, and to win you have to control your behavior and expectations. People must be allowed to move at their own pace. If you go used-car salesman on them and try to rush them to buy now , they will run, as you are exposed as another salesman. If you allow them to move to you at their own pace and stay present in their mind on your topic, then when they are ready, you’ll be the only logical choice.

10— Don’t get google slapped

Consistency is the key ingredient in creating trust. [not conformity]

“The Google slap” (not SEO) — if you let yourself fall into a category of many, to be compared against other products, services, or professionals, you invite the Google slap or other evils that operate in similar fashion — questions asked of friends or relatives or co-workers, driving about from showroom to showroom or store to store, procrastinating while collection information from others “like you.” This is how prospects go astray. This is the point where the trust you’ve been building up in advance of the sale is blown to pieces.

Ex— Dan Kennedy took elements and strategies common to the direct marketing industry and assembled them into this proprietary Magnetic Marketing System, made usable for non-direct marketing businesses, small local businesses, professional practices like mine, and sales professionals, and has sold over $100 million of his “un-generic-ized” product.

Ex— Disney twists itself like a contortionist to avoid use of the rather toxic, generic terminology of the “time-share” industry, in selling its Disney Vacation Club.

11— How familiarity breeds trust

Understanding the link between familiarity and trust is important; finding ways to deliberately utilize it, powerful.

“Strategy of omnipresence” — in a target audience of prospects in a defined market — being bumped into every time a prospect turns around.

“Trust-matured” prospects — It admittedly requires patience, but it is about having an assembly line’s conveyor belt bringing trust-matured prospects to you at a steady clip. As some are reaching you at your end, others are being put on, way, way, way at the other end, and there are some on every inch of the belt between here and here, all moving toward you apace.

  • I’ve been hearing about you
  • I’ve been reading your stuff
  • It seems every leader in my business makes mention of you

The best way to accelerate this kind of familiarity is by focusing on a very small target audience or market.

12— The unmatched power of affinity

Try to target your marketing and selling to clientele with whom you have the greatest possible affinity.

A related strategy is to be sure to use and tell your story.

This innate and chosen behavior offers three kinds of enormous leverage to the trust-based marketer:

  • One, being part of different groups, being “one of them,” so you are more quickly and easily accepted as trustworthy by them.
  • Two, making certain to uncover and identify every affinity group to which your best clients belong, and gaining access to them via your client’s introduction and endorsement.
  • Three, giving your prospective clients good opportunity to see that you are trusted by and serve other people just like them.

This third leverage is really quite easy to do:

“Find yourself here.” — there are reasons why the product is “for” each of these affinity groups, so when the person finds his group, he learns the specific, personally relevant reason why people in that group, who are just like him, like the product. In many cases, pages like these are integrated with pages of consumer testimonials organized into the same affinity groups.

The power formula: affinity + specific reason why

13— Establishing and asserting your authority

Establishing your authority is something that should be done in each sales presentation — regardless of how big or little you are.

Unique Authority is particularly important to anyone selling in a high-trust-required setting.

The higher up the income ladder you climb, the more you find the people there are being paid more for who they are, not for what they do.

Because Authority is such a powerful trust trigger, the more of it you establish and assert, the more you are likely to earn in premium income over and above par in your field.

Tactical advice—

  1. I suggest erasing all those things [ways consumers can quickly identify a salesman] from your appearance, approach, tool kit, and behavior.
  2. There are ways that consumers can quickly identify an Authority. You should think about what those are generically, and what they might be specifically in your field, then do everything you can to make those things part of your appearance, approach, tool kit, and behavior.

The use of his own story of curiosity, skepticism, discovery, and conviction is an important trust-based marketing strategy.

14— The power of prescription

The biggest overarching factor is that the proposition isn’t being sold at all; it is being prescribed.

He replaces the selling of propositions with prescription as best he can.

He attempts to prepare the prospective client to accept him as a “financial doctor.”

What is being sold here is: first, the person — not the products or proposition, and trust in that person — not in the companies or products he represents; second, the prescriptive plan — not a basket of financial products.

Ex— I neither overtly advertise or directly market myself to a cold market, nor do I ever do free pitch meetings. Instead I’ve painstakingly crated a feeder system, where businesspeople get to know and trust me through subscribing to and reading my newsletters, attending my seminars, listening to my recordings, reading my books, so that by the time they step forward and ask if I can and will personally assist them, they are looking for my diagnosis and prescription. Even when a client brings forward a referral, I rarely agree to talk or meet with them unless and until they have prepared themselves by reading, listening, and familiarizing themselves with my work — and when I violate that, I always regret it.

Ex— When she called to get information, Carla was politely informed that no new clients were accepted without first having a full informational tour of the facility, and that such tours were conducted only once a day, at 4PM. Just stop there for a minute. This is, basically, a dog kennel.

Ex— He requires investor to pay membership fees just to be permitted to be his client, somewhat akin to concierge medical practices. He has a well-defined intake process for new clients they must conform to, much like The Barkley Pet Hotel does. For most investors, he is providing these investment opportunities within the context of financial security, retirement, income for life, and tax management planning; thus he is engaged in the diagnostic and prescriptive process.

All [dog boarding kennel, real estate salesman, carpet-cleaning business] found ways to switch from a sales model to a diagnosis and prescription model. If they can, and you insist you can’t, the obstacle isn’t the nature of your business. It’s the nature of your thinking.

15— It’s not what you say, it’s what they hear

It’s very useful to determine what are the most important questions about you in the quiet minds of your prospects. These may never be voiced. But they form the prism through which everything you say passes, to be heard.

They don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

Ex — I have bravely raised and acknowledged the distrust. I have worked at establishing empathy, seller for buyer. Shared indignation at disappointment, at over-promising and under-delivering, and an understanding of the emotional letdown and even shame that comes from “being had.” I have used a story — this one from he seller’s childhood. I have given personal reassurance. Then, I have supposed it with facts of differentiation.

Ex – Lingering trust concerns — He may not trust the stranger who has arrived in his mailbox, he may not trust an important claim that 20 minutes a day with this gadget is the same as 2 hours at the gym; he may not trust himself to use the exercise gadget being sold if he gets it; he may not trust the guarantee and fear a major hassle getting a refund. I have to figure out what these trust concerns will be, do all I can in the main sales copy to pre-empt them, and at an appropriate point introduce them and apply reassurance balm to them, in a way that is heard as reassurance. This is not an easy thing to do, but it is a vitally important thing to do.

He’ll hear a salesman talking as salesmen usually do, about features and benefits and facts and warranties. What she wants is reassurance that this stove will keep this little old lady warm.

16— Trust language the book only you can write, that only you will…

“Copy Banks” — Painstaking, thoughtful, thorough development of a language, phrase, and sentence book specific t your prospects and to the products or services you sell, for use in developing and learning scripts for your selling conversations, and in developing advertising and marketing

  1. What is the prospect’s primary desire? (1,2,3)
  2. What words and phrases can sync with that desire? (1,2,3)
  3. What makes you / your product or service the right means of fulfilling the desire? (1,2,3)
  4. How can you move your benefits to a higher level of importance? (1,2,3)
  5. How can you best present your price? (1,2,3)
  6. How can you best reinforce a high-trust advisor position? (1,2,3)

Ex — hospital administrators

Primary desire

  • success and job security
  • strong authority
  • personal visibility and prominence in health care industry

Words and phrases that sync with desires

  • the best, most successful, most admired hospitals have strong, tough-minded administrators
  • the president of the united states has, basically, two groups he must manage: democrats and republicans. but as a hospital administrator, you have your physicians, your staff, your board, your donors, and the patients. No one can really understand your “political hot seat” unless they sit in it.
  • These days, hospitals are under unprecedented financial pressure, making every financial decision you make more dangerous and more likely critically scrutinized than ever before
  • the in-industry media and general business media recognition that theCEOs of exceptionally successful and innovative hospitals get these days is obviously very useful in safeguarding their authority and influence

Connecting your products / services

  • favored by business-minded administrators
  • adaptable to all kinds of challenges
  • sensitive to the need for buy-in and cooperation from all involved parties
  • accountable
  • delivers provable, documented return on investment
  • a proven track record with over 20 leading hospitals makes this an investment virtually immune to criticism
  • viewed as bold innovation by media like …

… to a higher level of importance

  • can lead to improvement on a grand scale
  • breakthrough, not just incremental improvement
  • a way to achieve superior positioning in a competitive environment


  • produce favorable economic impact
  • extremely low cost amortized over life of the …
  • if you examine it in the narrow frame of numbers of surgeries required to completely recoup the investment, we are really discussing X typical surgeries
  • if considered against increase in revenue, it requires only a X% increase to Y.
  • there is more than one return on this investment. there is efficiency, improved surgical outcomes, reduced risk for certain surgeries.


  • I / we recognize there can be no one-size-fits-all solution, so a thorough diagnostic process and direct input from you…
  • these detailed case histories from five hospitals similar in size to yours, in other parts of the country, demonstrate how this approach can be pursued with no risk whatsoever
  • CEOs like you trust us for a simple reason. While the hospital is officially our client, we understand that there are institutional and corporate needs to be met but also personal concerns of yours to be honored

17— Astound and amaze with the Houdini Factor

[Dramatic Demonstration]

[code language=”plain”][/code]

[code language=”plain”][/code]

[code language=”plain”][/code]

[code language=”plain”][/code]

If I present a strategy to you with a ready-made powerpoint presentation on my laptop or pad screen, however glitzy and professional it may be, it does nothing to demonstrate my grasp of the subject and it reveals that you are getting a one-size-fits-all solution, the same for the prospect who came before you yesterday and the same for the prospects who will follow you tomorrow. If instead I draw out my diagrams, do my calculations, and list my ideas on a legal pad from my spontaneous thoughts — drawing on my years of experience — in response to our conversation, I have a dramatic demonstration of my stored knowledge plus the benefit of appearing to present a customized prescription for you. If I am, in fact, selling the same solution to everybody, then as Hardeen bemoaned, it is the same trick. But it doesn’t feel to you like the same trick.

[code language=”plain”][/code]

[code language=”plain”][/code]

[code language=”plain”][/code]

[code language=”plain”][/code]

With cold reading, you are able to tell people facts, even secrets about themselves.

No human desire exceeds the desire to be understood.

[code language=”plain”][/code]

[code language=”plain”][/code]

For you to be trusted, first your concept(s) must be trusted. [ex — had to convince the concept of riding airplanes as safe before selling provider’s benefits, fares, or destinations]

2. Proof of personal relevance

Just because I accept financial planning or the use of an advisor or vacationing on a cruise ship as safe, enjoyable, and popular, or business coaching as useful, all as proven concepts, does not mean I accept them as good for me.

Must connect proof of concept to proof of personal relevance

Ex — trying to convince seniors to use Facebook

  • statistical facts — that the fastest growing segment of new Facebook users is 60 years of age and up
  • focus on features and uses of Facebook most popular with seniors (ex— different way to scrapbook, involvement with grandkids, keeping up with old friends who live great distances away
  • create a story of a new Facebook user’s experiences, that user matched with the senior we’re trying to convince
  • “puppy dogging” [engineer personal demonstration to use free trial of a few functions set up for the person]

    3. Proof of promised benefits and outcomes

Buyers have to feel very confident and reassured, if not rock-solid certain, that the promised and hoped for benefits and outcomes will occur for him.

Ex— “The Dream Room” selling $20,000 mattresses — A plethora of customer testimonials, especially specific ones about back pain or insomnia resolved, are very helpful. But the only real proof is in the sleeping.

4. Proof of superiority

[After 1–3], wonders what other providers and choices may be available.

The ultimate superior position is: most trusted.

Preponderance of proof —

In battle, it’s best to have overwhelming force.

Three things: Quantity, quality, and diversity.

The last may be the pathway to greatest advantage: providing as many different forms of proof in each of the above four categories as you possibly can.

19— The cache client as its own form of proof

A simple thing like a client list can create trust or persuade others.

Ex — GKIC — partial list of members already registered, nothing their type of business or something about them.

  • member not yet registered looks to see if he knows people on the list, personally or by reputation within our fraternity
  • looks to see if others in his kind of business have registered
  • sees that people he thinks of as smart and accomplished, and people in his own field, trust me and trust hat this event will be valuable, and is reassured and encouraged by that

I made a “hit list” of 20 with considerable influence and cache with all the other members, who I wanted to do business with, and I implemented customized campaigns to put myself in front of these twenty.

20— Risk reversal

With risk removed, trust can be earned by results, rather than required in advance.

Tactic — Solicit consumers ahead of need and make them “members”, with member privileges

[code language=”plain”][/code]

[code language=”plain”][/code]

[code language=”plain”][/code]

[code language=”plain”][/code]

[code language=”plain”][/code]

[code language=”plain”][/code]

[code language=”plain”][/code]

[code language=”plain”][/code]

[code language=”plain”][/code]

[code language=”plain”][/code]

[code language=”plain”][/code]

[code language=”plain”][/code]

When people apply to universities, condo boards, or clubs, what do they eagerly wait for? The letter of acceptance.

[code language=”plain”][/code]

[code language=”plain”][/code]

[code language=”plain”][/code]

[Unlike professional sports], the highest-paid and most profitable dentistry practice in a market isn’t necessarily going to the dentist with the greatest dentistry skill, but the money and market notoriety goes tot he best positioned, best marketed, and most trusted professional.

Becoming the exclusive source, viewed as an extremely important and influential person, allowing you to switch from selling to clients to accepting clients —

Especially on high-dollar transactions, you’ll sell more and get more referrals by NOT making it too easy for folks to get to you.

Ex — to get on our schedule, you must do one of three things:

  1. Come through a public workshop, agree to divulge your financial information, in advance, through our triage process and, depending on your situation, accept waiting two to six weeks for an appointment.
  2. Be referred into our firm by one of the four “Blue Chip” Estate and / or Elder Law Practicing Firms
  3. Have an existing client refer you IN

We need Bob to understand that we accept his referrals without question and give them priority. We need him to convey the exclusivity to anyone he refers, and we go to considerable lengths to make sure we stay positioned that way to Bob.

The ultimate marketing media available to you via exclusivity and acceptance: referrals from your good clients, making the clients the media.

23 — How do you know if you are succeeding at trust-based marketing?

Number of clients brought to you.

You never need to be without a good prospect as soon as you had just one client, unless you were inept at trust. Every client should beget another. I grasped it, and made this challenging concept a major part of my own business approach.

The trust hurdle for buying is lower than the trust hurdle of good word of mouth, and is lower than the trust hurdle for actually bringing clients to you.

Further reading:

  1. Ian Rowland’s Full Facts Book of Cold Reading
  2. A more elementary introduction is Simon Winthrop’s How to Be a Mentalist: Master the Secrets behind the Hit TV Show