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The Trust Gap [Aaron Ross]

Posted by Aaron Ross - Guest on Sun 30-Oct-2016

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Message from Bob: I've always enjoyed Aaron Ross's ideas on how growing companies can drive Predictable Revenue, and I'm delighted that he's allowed me to republish the following extract from his excellent new book, "From Impossible to Inevitable". Over to you Aaron...

When you start a business, most people begin with Early Adopters. These include networks, friends, friends-of-friends, and people who instinctively “get it.”

Then, once you hit $1–$10 million in revenue, you usually hit a wall as word-of-mouth and referrals start to plateau. Or, as a large company you might plateau when your new leadgen program, product launch, or market struggles. 

There’s a painful difference between selling to Early Adopters who trust you, and Mainstream Buyers who don’t. Geoffrey Moore called this “crossing the chasm.” We call it bridging a Trust Gap... 

Trust Gap.png

The Right Side: High Trust

On one side of the trust spectrum are “Mom/Dad/Best Friends”—the people who know and trust us, and are therefore willing to give you a big slice of attention just because you asked for it. This side of the arc also includes the few people who somehow run across your product, as crappy or obtuse as your website is—and just “get it.” Early Adopters give you a lot of leeway—which is invaluable in getting a new company, product, or leadgen program off the ground. 

But it becomes a liability—and often a rude awakening—when you start expecting everyone to give you that same leeway. 

The Left Side: No Trust 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are the people who have never heard of you or your company. When people don’t know you, they’ll only give you a tiny sliver of their attention to figure you out. 

Here are some sample (nonscientific) windows of attention: 

  • A cold email or online ad: a 0.3- to 3-second window before they engage or move on.
  • A cold call: a 3- to 30-second window.
  • Walking door-to-door: a 3- to 60-second window.

Compare these to:

  • A referral: 15 minutes–1 hour
  • A best friend or parent: Unlimited (In fact, you may be the one who wants to limit the time!)

This is the Trust Gap: The difference between marketing to people who already know us or our brand, and people who don’t, and aren’t willing to invest anything to figure us out. And the difference between being able to market to Early Adopters (15% of the market) versus Mainstream Buyers (85% of the market). It affects everything related to how you market and sell.

To cross the Trust Gap, you have to either (a) find a way to fit your message into that slice of attention, or (b) expand the amount of attention they’re willing to give you. 

Speak to The Dinosaur Brain 

Reptiles think with their eyes, not their brains—and so do we! Dinosaur-brain thinking (the same thing, but dinosaurs are cooler than reptiles) isn’t about thinking consciously and making logical decisions— it’s about reacting. 

There are different reasons something appeals to us at the dinosaur brain level, before our conscious minds have time to process it, such as:

  • Newness 
  • Contrast 
  • Movement/speed 
  • Surprises 
  • Details 
  • Visuals 

This is why you’ll see banner ads with a color that’s different from the page background and with moving pictures, to combine the attention-getting elements of visuals, contrast, and movement. Or why video-sharing sites have so many videos titled like He Hated His Boss for Two Years until This Happened with a picture, combining visuals and anticipated surprise and detail. And it works, at least until you learn from watching several that the videos are rarely as interesting as the titles, and you start ignoring them. 

So, be intriguing and attractive, without overpromising—at least not too often. 

Learning how to reframe your ideas to appeal to people’s dinosaur brains makes sense when you consider the tiny window of attention you get. Even if it’s frustratingly hard to do at first, or feels sales-y. You can’t fight the Arc of Attention.

we hope you enjoyed this From Impossible To Inevitable excerpt!   you can buy the book on most online sites, including, where it's rated 5-stars with comments like "best business book i've ever read"...

we guarantee that in it is at least one idea that will change your life.


Topics: Predictable Revenue