Trust- a precious commodity

Posted on May 25, 2010 in Artifacts

The old adage- “Speed, quality or price, pick two” can be true in a lot of new customer situations, but through the high-powered lens of social marketing I find it leaves out the most important aspect for long term success. Trust. With the meteoric rise of social media, trust takes on an even greater profile. Social media’s impact on marketing really boils down to trust. I.e., I trust what my friends say about you more than what you say about you. Playing in that arena makes you vulnerable, as one bad customer experience can snowball into a PR disaster. I’ve been watching with some amusement a local restaurant get absolutely torched in an area review blog. It sounds so bad there I almost want to see it if for myself. (Almost, I said.) But there is no fighting back in the social media world. The owner has gotten on the blog to defend his restaurant but it just makes it worse. The public has voted. It’s all up front. Acting with integrity and doing a great job, and when you don’t, owning up to it and making it right. That’s what builds and maintains trust.

We all want to be able to measure our marketing efforts, but it’s hard to quantify a “Return on Trust”. ROT? Maybe not the best acronym. How about ROR, “Return on Relationship”? Any good relationship takes time to build and often requires some adverse conditions to be tested. Any relationship that has trust is a two-way street. Obviously the customer needs to trust the vendor. Trust that they’ll do what was promised. Trust that they are a good value. Trust that if there is a problem, its brought out and dealt with. From a vendor standpoint, trust means the client will give them all the information they need upfront. Trust that the vendor’s intellectual property will be respected. That ideas and creativity have value; both professionally and financially. That they’ll pay for what was ordered. Trust requires some degree of transparency on both sides.

All that takes time and effort to establish, but produces the best kind of working relationship. Its a great investment. As one of our clients told me recently, ” I just give it to you so I don’t need to worry about it. I know it will be great.” That’s a lot easier sales plan than cold-calling!