no trust

Why you can’t trust anyone in marketing

By December 26, 2008 10 Comments

Why you can't trust anyone in marketing

In The Night After Christmas, Jonathan Salem Baskin waxes poetic about the excuses marketers will make when retailers realize their marketing efforts (especially their holiday sales) weren’t what they hoped for this year:

The marketing had failed, the sales not triumphant,
The guy sneaking away was the company’s consultant.
More rapid than eagles his course was quite plain,
A getaway with successful branding he would claim.

“Now Viral! now, Social! now, Awareness and Retention!
On, Creative! On, Catchy! on, seeking only mention!
The brand was made memorable, I won’t take the fall!
Didn’t they know it wasn’t supposed to sell at all?”

After getting past the fact that Baskin’s poem is better than the ditty I wrote for the Outsource Marketing Holiday ’08 card, I realized what he’s saying is what most business people assume about marketers:

We can’t be trusted.

It’s not just the fact that it’s our responsibility to persuade. From all corners of our society, we’re let down by people in sports, pop culture, government, business and religion.

We can’t trust our leaders—our heroes, even. Why would anyone trust someone in marketing?

Since 2006, the Edelman Trust Barometer has found a “person like yourself” is the most trusted person in the U.S. Not analysts, experts, educators or the government. People trust people that share their common interests.

I’ll be curious to see if this holds true in the 2008 Trust Barometer results released next month. I bet it will.

Since a “person like yourself” is who people trust most, it’s good to see social media is finally gaining acceptance and adoption by marketers.

Done right, social media can be a powerful tool to help build trust. Done poorly, it can have the immediate opposite effect.

Obviously, there are other things marketers can do, and we’ll tackle those next week.

It’s time to raise our game, folks. Marketers face a crisis of consumer confidence, and we have a lot to prove.

So, what do you believe marketers can do to help gain the trust of consumers?

Comment below to weigh in.

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Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • Social media creates an instant public reputation that is constantly updated. Marketers like myself must be trustworthy or we will be ‘outed’ by participants in social media and our reputations tarnished in a very public fashion. The marketers who do not understand this will find themselves marginalized at best and vilified at worst and the effect will be permanent. I know this because our company monitors social media and we are building a database of all public conversations that have taken place since late 2007. This includes things that were later deleted from public view by their authors.
    To be trusted you must be completely open and transparent and add value to whatever subject you are talking about. This is a major change for many who are used to getting away with dubious claims about their products and brands
    Marketing has changed completely and permanently. Those who do not understand and embrace this are doomed to fail.

  • Ken Camp says:

    I think the answer’s implied in the post. We trust people like ourselves. In order to gain trust, and credibility, marketers are going to have to be open, authentic and engaged. They’re going to have to accept that, for many, broadcast messages have been replaced by multi-dimensional conversations.

    It’s an easy adaptation for many and impossible for just as many. The old rules of marketing are no longer valid. The industry is every bit as shaked as society would be if the law of gravity ceased to function.

  • S!ick says:

    I dont’ mind “cheering” (your brand)…I can accept some hyping…but: don’t lie, and stop over exaggerating. It’s a HUGE turn-off…

  • A few quick thoughts:
    1. Consistency – in every action, every reaction, via every medium.
    2. Help your clients/brands do the same. In fact, insist on it.
    3. If I were a marketing firm, I would choose my clients even more carefully now. (Thinking of my current employer and its marketing firm.)
    4. Spend more time responding than advertising. Consumers love to talk about the company/brand’s responses to their complaints… way more than they talk about its new billboard or TV ad.

  • Veronica,

    Love your thoughts on this. Thanks for sharing!

  • AMEN! As social media strategists (the REAL ones – rather than those who are just starting out) we NEED to prove worth. We have flashes of brilliance that others don’t….it’s called strategy.

    Find someone smart. When you find that person, KEEP LOOKING. you never know if your person is a real hot shot or if they just say they are.

    If you look for me, I want you to look at others. If you come back to me, rock ON. if not, I trust that you found someone better.

  • I think it’s important NOT to convince people to trust marketers! Even if we personally ARE marketers.

    The fact of the matter is, now that the majority know that they are not trusted, they are going to use supposed transparency, honesty, wholesomeness as their newest marketing tools! They have already used it to some extent, which has gotten them this far. Now they know we, the consumer (whether marketer or not, we are consumers first) are tired of their two faced mess. They’ll have to adjust to the new social media consumer demands on a way that says, ‘we’re different’..But even though we’ll see the influx of ‘change’ on the front…they will remain just as trecherous, selfish and greedy as they have always been.

    We need more people, consumers as well as marketers, who are willing to observe & record, openly/publicly, what they are observing. They need to be exposed.

    **WHO are they linking to?
    **Do they respond/allow complaints in their commentary boxes or is their always supportive “great post!” comments?
    **Are they particular about who they are employed by or do they go for the dollar without considering our welfare as peoples/nations/environment/ethics considered?
    **Do they support their fellow marketers at any cost, when a consumer raises a concerned voice or do they get involved, finding a peaceable resolve? Possibly change?

    All of these things cannot guarantee us of their virtue/trustworthiness, but will assist in the sorting process. Consumers are losing, because they havent been taught to have a voice without repercussions. THATS what we need to encourage, by ACTION, not by mouth. Then mayve there should be trust.

    Kimberly 🙂

  • […] consumer trust, should they, shouldn’t they trust, Patrick Byers delves into it with, “Why you can’t trust anyone in marketing“. “Since a “person like yourself” is who people trust most, it’s good to see […]

  • my-muse.com says:

    Trust is built in two ways: 1) through reputation, 2) through experience. There are no short cuts. Build trust for yourself or your brand through a good reputation and references and then follow it up with a good experience for the recipient.
    And in contrast, I think that there are plenty of reasons to trust those of us in marketing. The ones with good reputations provide a score card of our results and are honest in reporting them.

  • @my-muse.com, actually, many times, the way it works is this: Reputations are not always what they seem.

    Exposing lack of ethics or violations of consumer rights, for example, leads to marketplace bullying & intimidation tactics, which quickly shut down the voices of truth which oppose them

    What is left? The facade of ‘good reputation’.

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