Trust Me. I’m In Marketing.

Trust isn’t what it used to be, because there isn’t much left.

A report by Richard Edelman surveys people from countries around the globe to see who they trusted or not. Trust in government is low, but then again no sane person really trusts that much concentrated power. Trust in the media has plummeted as alleged journalists have removed their masks to expose their unmade partisan and ideological faces. Only businesses and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) score above the 50% mark, and they do so with no margin for error.

Who the heck is this Trust fellow?

All relationships are built on trust. If you don’t believe that, go buy a candy bar and think about the layers of trust incorporated in a simple purchase. You trust the maker of the candy bar not to poison you, which means you trust their trust in agricultural and chemical suppliers. You trust the store to not sell you past-dated products, and you trust the cashier to make correct change. There is a lot of trust in snack food.

Any company selling any product has to be trusted. The more trust consumers have in a brand, the easier the sale and the higher the margins that can be charged. Companies with no public trust seldom live very long.

Trust is a key marketing job, which is odd since most people distrust marketers.

I believe I might trust you

Trust is a belief system, and as such, it is no different than religion. You choose to believe what you believe, and marketing’s job is to guide you to that belief.

For marketing, creating a belief system is an additive process. You create belief through convincing one person at a time that your product will do something desirable. Over time, a critical mass of people will adopt this belief in your company and products, and the force of the belief system will amplify itself.

Of the most trusted brands, we see familiar names with strong beliefs, which may or may not be justified. People trust Southwest Airlines and Benadryl allergy medicines. They believe Southwest will transport them for little money, on time, and crash-free. People trust Benadryl will keep them from sneezing on their dates.

The point is that people will buy from trusted firms more readily because people believe they will get what they are paying for, and perhaps more. I have been on both delayed and canceled Southwest flights, but that does not rewrite the basic trust equation. I know I can get generic Benadryl, but when my wife was needing the medication, I got the brand name anyway.

Trust me to market correctly

bp-logosA lack of trust has the opposite effect. If you lose public trust, you may lose your company. Marketers (and CEOs, who are also on the low-trust list) need to make trust a central part of their public outreach. The CEO needs to instill a duty to trustworthiness throughout the entire organization, from manufacturing to sales to support.

Marketing needs to communicate trustworthiness. There is a reason British Petroleum (BP) has a logo that looks like the sun, a flower and a salad. It is also the reason people mocked the logo after the great BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The logo was designed, in part, to project trustworthiness. It said in part “We care about the environment.” The handling of the oil spill said otherwise.

Decide what your customers need to trust about you. If you make cars, does your market want to believe you make them safe, fast, sexy? Do all your communications reflect the belief the market wants to have about you? Add this to your wall chart of daily marketing affirmations.

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