Creatives – try the Know, Like, Trust framework for success

When building work contacts, why not try an approach that champions both strategy and humanity?
Don't be the world's best-kept secret. Image: Shutterstock.

Sales and marketing. Two cringe-inducing words for most creatives. 

While it would be magic to exist in a world where simply being awesome at our craft was enough, this – in reality – is unlikely to be the case. 

As a result, we do need to spend some time considering sales and marketing as it applies to our specific vocation. Fortunately, we can make this task less of a chore if we look at it through the well-worn Know, Like, Trust framework. The KLT framework can even help us uncover (and then double-down on) our unique strengths and opportunities. 

When paired with effective branding, we can set ourselves up for exponential growth. And maybe, eventually, never have to worry about sales and marketing again. 

KLT 101

The Know, Like, Trust framework comes from the business world and is particularly prevalent in sales and marketing departments. It’s an approach that champions both strategy and humanity. 

For those of us unfamiliar, we can picture this concept as an inverted triangle. The widest length at the top represents ‘Know’, the middle section ‘Like’, and the narrow tip ‘Trust’. Holistically, it depicts the journey our buyers or clients take in relation to us and our work. 

Image: Shutterstock

The Know stage refers to the moment clients first hear about us. Ideally, we should be answering two primary questions for them, regardless of how this introduction is made: Who we are, and what we do. 

The domain in which this initial introduction occurs will depend on who our clients are and where they spend their time. For some, this could be in-person at industry events and conferences. For others, this might be online via LinkedIn or other social media channels. The arena is irrelevant provided we answer the two questions above. 

The Like stage encapsulates the relationship shift from a more traditional ‘buyer and seller’ model to one of ‘person of value and interested party’. Our clients need to like both us as a person, and the work we do. This is especially true in the screen industry and other areas of the arts, where we’re often working intensively together for long stretches of time. 

It’s worth noting here that we aren’t looking to get everyone to like us. Not only is this impossible, but it’s also undesirable. Instead, we focus our efforts on the individuals most aligned with our values and goals. 

The Trust stage captures the moment when our client moves from being interested to actually investing in the product or service we offer. At this point, they need to see evidence that:

  • we’re an expert
  • we’ve successfully assisted others
  • we can help them

As the image of an inverted triangle conveys, the number of potential clients decreases as we go along the journey. If we reach 100 people at the Know stage, we may have 50 progress to Like. From this 50, we may have 15 at Trust. That isn’t to say the folk sitting at Know and Like won’t ever trickle down to Trust – just not this time around. 

Why this works

Speaker and author Mark W. Schaefer teaches graduate marketing classes at Rutgers University. In his 2014 book, Social Media Explained, he highlights that for most of human history, business was conducted at the person-to-person level. We exchanged goods and services amongst ourselves. We knew – often intimately – the people with whom we were engaged in commerce.

All this changed with the birth of the ‘mass market’ around 1900. Impersonal mass communication and mass advertising became the norm, and suddenly our business partners were nameless, faceless conglomerates. But Schaefer notes that this tide has turned. People want to do business with other people once again. 

The KLT framework simply makes this personalised approach accessible and actionable. Which is ideal for us creative types who’d like to spend as little time ‘selling’ and ‘marketing’ as possible.

Leveraging the KLT framework effectively enables us to return to the person-to-person days. We find ourselves building a community, not a client base. We begin to focus on collaboration, not competition. We start to generate more inbound, requiring less outbound. 

Creative application

While the opportunities to implement KLT are almost endless, let’s have a look at a few simple ways we, as creatives, can receive the greatest return on investment.

Some tactics to build our Know factor include: 

  • Attending relevant networking events. ‘Relevant’ being the key word. 
  • Having a digital presence. Depending on our specific profession, this could be in the form of a personal website, active social feeds, or profiles on industry job sites. 

Some tactics to boost our Like factor include: 

  • Contributing ideas and insights. Volunteering to speak at a local event, keeping a regular blog, or engaging in online forums, are all potential avenues. 
  • Emphasising our ‘unique selling points’ or USPs. Staying true to our uniqueness means we won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those we are, the love will be strong. Authenticity is a captivating force. 

Some tactics to deepen our Trust factor include: 

  • Collecting testimonials and references. These can be added to our digital spaces or sent off with job applications. 
  • Maintaining a standard of professionalism. This standard will vary from trade to trade, but timely replies, arriving early, and delivering as and when expected are shared threads. 

The Actor and comedian Steve Martin has a now-famous mantra: ‘Be so good they can’t ignore you’.

Although a dogged dedication to working at the highest level should always be our priority, we can increase our odds of success by employing the KLT framework. After all, there’s only so much we can do if we’re the world’s best-kept secret.

Tahlia Norrish (@tahlianorrish) is an Aussie actor and writer currently based between Sydney and London. After graduating from both The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (Acting & Musical Theatre) and Rose Bruford College (BA (Hons) Acting), Tahlia stepped up as Head Coach at The Actor’s Dojo – an online platform pioneering actor empowerment through mindset and strategy training.