Trust me. I’m a plumber.

In Dave Trott’s excellent book Predatory Thinking he tells a story about a plumber.

An elderly man had switched his heating on in winter but the radiators weren’t warming up. For the elderly this can be a serious problem. He called a plumber who looked at the elderly man’s old boiler. He felt around the pipes and then smacked one of them two or three times with a hammer.

The pipe started to warm and then the whole house started to warm. The elderly man asked how much he should pay, but the plumber refused payment. “I can’t charge you for hitting a pipe with a hammer,” he said “but this boiler is old and it will need replacing soon. All I ask is that you let me quote you on it when you’re ready official site.”

The elderly man didn’t see the point in getting any other quotes. Even if they were cheaper, he wouldn’t know if he could trust them. He knew he could trust the plumber who didn’t rip him off when he had the chance.

Most people are insecure about plumbers. We’ve all seen plumbers ripping people off on TV. And elderly people are especially vulnerable in the depths of winter. This plumber had positioned himself as the answer to all of these problems.

He wasn’t looking to make cash quick. He knew he was building his brand. He’d worked out his key point of difference: that he was trusted. He also hadn’t asked anyone to trust him. Or told anyone he was trust worthy. He’d simply demonstrated it.

And, at the same time, he’d created an advocate who would sell his services for him. How many people would ask for that plumber’s number after hearing this story? I know I would.

If you’re thinking about positioning your company or your personal brand, there’s a lesson to be learned here. Are you asking others to trust you or are you actually demonstrating trust? Are you acting on your positioning statement?