You are currently viewing Marketing Lessons from Non-Marketing TED Talks: Why Customer Safety is Crucial

Marketing Lessons from Non-Marketing TED Talks: Why Customer Safety is Crucial

Last month, we dove into five TED Talks that, despite not having all that much to do with marketing, still contained some nuggets of wisdom for those in the world of retail.

Today, we’re going to focus on a single TED Talk, from famed speaker Simon Sinek, and how the information he provides can be translated and applied to your business.


Though Sinek is no stranger to the marketing world, this specific Talk focuses more on the importance of ensuring your employees’ physical, mental, and emotional safety. Overall, his message is that your employees simply cannot perform to their highest potential if they feel unsafe — or even just uncomfortable — in their positions.

To be sure, the exact same thing can be said about your customers: If your audience doesn’t feel safe when engaging with your brand, there’s a pretty good chance they’re going to stop doing so.

The key to making your customers feel safe?

Be a good leader.

In this article, we’ll discuss three key things your brand needs to do to safely lead your customers to success — and why doing so is crucial for your success.

Leaders Set the Tone and the Standard

Let’s be real:

Your new customers will be a bit uneasy when engaging with your brand for the first time.

And you can’t really blame them.

After all, they’re debating handing over their hard-earned cash to a company they’ve never done business with before, without first-hand proof that you’ll be able to deliver value to them.

It’s a vulnerable position to be in — and the modern consumer is well-aware of this.

As Edelman’s 2020 Trust Barometer Special Report found, 81% of consumers say, “personal vulnerability (around health, financial stability, and privacy) is a reason why brand trust has become more important (this year)”.

That said, it’s your job to start building trust in your new customers from the get-go.

You can do this in a number of ways.

First, your brand needs to be authentic, to the fullest extent of the word.

The modern consumer is knowledgeable and typically does their due diligence when engaging with a new brand (and even brands they’ve been with for years). If they find your brand isn’t really all about what you claim to be all about, your potential customers are going to find out — and you aren’t going to keep them around much longer.

Check out how San Antonio Shoes has built a reputable name for themselves through consistent, honest-to-goodness authenticity.

Going together with authenticity is transparency.

As we just said, your new customers will likely do some research on your company before engaging too deeply with your brand. If you don’t openly provide the information they’re looking for, you haven’t given your new prospects any reason to trust you in the first place.

(Really, your prospects will likely feel like you’re trying to hide something from them — which can actively work to build distrust of your brand in their minds.)

Ben Jacobson explains how to deliver this sought-after transparency to your customers in an authentic, valuable manner.

Another key way to set the standard for your new customers is to showcase your brand’s empathetic nature. Your customers need to know you truly understand their situation, their goals, and anything else you need to know to deliver top-notch value to them.

To this end, data revolving around the Voice of the Customer is vital. This will allow you to dig deep into what your customers are really saying — in turn allowing you to gain a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of their needs.

(In contrast, assuming you understand their needs without digging into their actual comments and statements will likely cause you to miss the mark altogether — causing your new customers to lose any trust they’d built up in your brand.)

You should also exhibit empathy and build trust by delivering social proof to your new customers, too. Since they haven’t yet experienced your brand’s value for themselves, the next best thing is learning how others just like them have found success through your products and services.

Finally, in looking to set the stage for a safe and successful brand experience for your new customers, delivering risk-free value is a must. At the very least, your prospects want to know they won’t lose all that much if things don’t work out with your brand as they’d hoped.

(Going even further, offering risk-reversal guarantees can be even more effective. If your prospects stand to gain something even if they aren’t satisfied with the value you deliver, well…that’s even more incentive to give your brand a shot.)

It’s simple:

If your potential customers don’t know what they’re getting into by engaging with your brand, it’s just not going to happen.

But, by setting the stage early on, you make it much easier for your prospects to trust you — and give them every reason to dive right into your branded experience.

Leaders Make Sacrifices for the Good of Their Followers

In his not-even-twelve-minute-long TED Talk, Sinek uses the word “sacrifice” ten times.

Most importantly, Sinek explains:

“When a leader makes the choice to put the safety and lives of the people first, to sacrifice their comforts and sacrifice the tangible results, so that the people remain and feel safe and feel like they belong, remarkable things happen.”

Again, though he’s speaking of employers making sacrifices for their team members, the same message applies when thinking of your customer relationships.

Now, there are obvious limits to all this.

If you’re constantly sacrificing business growth and success for the good of your customers, you’re not going to be able to provide for them for very long.

It’s just not sustainable.

That said, it’s important to find the perfect balance in which you’re sacrificing enough to keep your customers onboard and engaging further — while also keeping your profit margins secure, as well.

In other words, you need to make sacrifices that will deliver value as expected to your customers, but that really don’t cost all that much on your end.

As mentioned above, risk-free and risk-reversal guarantees are a good start here. Sure, you’ll lose the initial investment from your refunded customers — but these losses can easily be recouped from your long-time, high-value followers.

(And, ideally, you won’t have to make this sacrifice if you consistently deliver on your initial promises to your new customers.)

The other key sacrifice to make:

Providing support to your customers whenever they need it — and even before they come to you for help.

(As Statista shows, 70% of consumers around the world have a more favorable view of brands that proactively deliver customer support.)

You can deliver this proactive support in a number of ways, such as knowledge bases, FAQ pages, blog posts, and many other types of content.

The goal is to preempt your audience’s questions, concerns, and problems by giving them the information they need straight away. That way, those who are in dire need of assistance can get help quickly and effectively — without having to wait for your team to step in.

(And, even if they don’t need help at a certain moment, knowing that the info is there when they do need it will certainly add a layer of security to their experience with your brand.)

Will it cost you upfront to create this content and deliver such proactive service? Absolutely.


It’s not a sunken cost; it’s an investment.

Yes, there’s no guarantee that your efforts will always keep your at-risk customers onboard.

Still, it’s safe to say the ROI and positive impact of providing laser-focused customer support is much greater than putting in no effort at all.

The sacrifices you make for your customers today will keep them onboard tomorrow (and tomorrow, and tomorrow). Fail to make these small sacrifices, though, and you’ll end up sacrificing your at-risk customers altogether.

Leaders Empower Their Followers

When your customers come to you, it’s because they aren’t currently where they’d like to be — and they need your help getting there.

It’s your responsibility, then, to empower your followers to reach their highest potential.

There are three key ways of doing this.

First, you need to provide opportunities for your customers to grow.

Obviously, this means providing valuable products and/or services that will help them move the needle in the right direction. Once they’ve gotten the ball rolling, you need to continue piling on value to ensure they keep growing as time goes on.

(This means continually improving the services you provide, creating new products for power users, and anything else that will keep your best customers from moving on to greener pastures.)

Providing guidance is also necessary to empower your customers.

We talked earlier about the many ways you can support your customers as they need — and even when they don’t recognize they need it. Basically, you want to be sure your customers get the most possible value they can from your products; you’re not in this just to help them reach the status quo.

(Documentation of best practices and other such tips will help guide your customers through proper use of your products or services. Without this guidance, they could easily get lost as they try to navigate the solutions you’ve provided them.)

Ultimately, you want your customers to develop a sense of autonomy when using your products or services.

Sinek mentions in his Talk that a leader should be somewhat like a parent, in that they should always be working to ensure their followers will eventually be able to “go it alone.”

For our purposes, this isn’t to say that you want your customers to eventually no longer need you. Like we said, you should always have something more to give them as they grow.

But you do want your customers to eventually be able to use your products or services — and to ramp up their ability to do so — with minimal guidance from your team.

That is, you want them to be able to:

  • Discover value within your solution(s) on their own
  • Explore your more advanced solutions with confidence
  • Chart their own path to success — with your product/service playing a supporting role, rather than the lead, in their growth

If your customers feel safe enough to do all this — and can do so successfully — you can feel confident that you’ve held up your end of the bargain.

The Safety of Your Customers: More Important Than Ever Before

The coronavirus pandemic has done a number on the retail world, overall.

In all industries, consumers around the world have become more conscious across the board — most importantly regarding their health and safety.

While that’s definitely the main concern for the time being, it’s also a good reminder that the physical, mental, and emotional health of your customers should always be at the top of your mind.

By ensuring your customers can navigate your branded experience in a way that they feel safe, you make them all the more likely to stick with your brand for years to come.

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