11 Mar Is trust the new marketing currency?
This is one of the pivotal questions being posed at the SXSW festival which is on now in Austin, Texas. For the uninitiated, the South by Southwest Festival and Conference has evolved over the last 32 years from a humble music festival with 700 attendees, to the largest gathering of creative professionals in the world, which last year attracted over 300,000 people. So it is an important forum, for an important question.
Has trust become the new currency for organisations wishing to affect change? Should companies invest in building trust to ensure they keep their customers happy and build commercial strength?
Defining trust in today’s world
Those organisations which understand how to build trust with their customers will succeed, but what does trust even mean nowadays? The excellent trust expert and author Rachel Botsman believes something profound is changing people’s concept of trust. Her research shows that while we used to place our trust in institutions like governments and banks, in today’s connected economy we increasingly rely on others, often strangers, on platforms like Airbnb and Uber. Botsman concludes that in this new era, trust is about a more transparent, inclusive and accountable society.
Trust eats exposure for breakfast
We are leaving behind the Industrial Age of mass compliance to marketing messages from ‘big brands on TV’. A lack of transparency has been the downfall of many large corporations in the past few years and media fragmentation has taken the shine off ‘being on TV’. Today’s marketers need to embrace the Connected Economy where businesses succeed by building relationships based on trust not by interrupting people with tricks and offers.
Media owners tend to deal in the currency of exposures, desperately attempting to cling on to an ever-fragmenting audience. Organisations deal in the currency of trust, attempting to offer goods and experiences which drive loyalty and advocacy. In the connection economy, trust eats exposure for breakfast. You can’t truly connect with a customer without trust and organisations need to connect in order to grow.
Trust is formed in owned channels
Trust is something few media owners have. Are people more likely to have a trusted brand relationship with Channel 9 or David Jones? With The Block or Bunnings? With news.com.au or Coles? A business’s call centres, customer service, stores, emails and apps are where trust is built and fostered. This is where marketers should focus their efforts as a priority.
Trust is the new marketing currency and must be nurtured through integrity, transparency and most of all, customer empathy in the channels where customers interact with you most.