Trust in a business, it’s name or its brand, is the single most important attribute for it to have today. Its a rough, tough place out there on the internet. Fake News, Post Truth, PR, Spin, call it what you like. Its very difficult to work out whats right and wrong any more. Up is down, black is white, right is wrong, and then right again. The web moves at an ever increasing pace. And everything from vital geopolitical choices, to critical environmental issues and even what food is the best for us to eat is under a constant barrage of competing and confusing contradictory information.
No one knows what to believe anymore.
So imagine how tough it is for businesses that for decades got away with ‘shouting’ at consumers with their ad messages. They say one thing, the competition says another – who do we believe? We don’t even trust the news media anymore. One channel says one thing, another says the opposite. One newspaper advocates for one plan, another wants to reject the whole thing!
Everyone it seems has an agenda. Any everyone seems to be in it for themselves.
And that’s always assuming that their message gets to us in the first place! Gone are the reliable channels of mass media. To be replaced with multiple channels of ‘on demand’ media. It’s impossible for the simple marketing plans of yesteryear to cope with. Consumers are bewildered by choice, by the frequency and sheer volume of information coming at them. So much so that ad avoidance is greater than ever. We will literally pay to watch movies or read content and avoid these horrible interruptions.
As the world of business and commerce evolved, we saw different orientations in organisations looking to make money. First off, it was the production orientation of business’s like Henry Ford’s motor car company. They would sell you any colour car as long as it was black! They only had to get enough cars made to meet the demand and they were hitting those corporate targets.
A more and more cars were made (or washing machines, or TVs or whatever) and then it became more important to sell. Why should I buy from you rather than your most hated competitor we’d ask? And we’d get ad messages, marketing spiel, stories, facts and figures, and special offers designed to tempt us to buy back in return.
Business then turned to marketing
In order to cut through the noise and create favourable and memorable associations in our consumer minds business got smart. And eventually this lead to them tracking us down and trying to intercept us doing what ever it was we were doing. So called ‘interruption marketing’ led to brands shouting for attention while we tried to watch the tube or read the papers.
Eventually these messages got so loud and so cluttered ‘marketers’ had to really up the ante. With the advent of mobile phones they were able to follow us around, learn what we liked and were interested in, and to use that information to their own benefit. We would wake to email and go to bed to pop up’s and alert’s – all trying to convince us that they know what’s best for us and that their latest product is a must have.
Today marketing is pure science.
Data science. Every move we make is measured and mapped and sold to multiple interested parties. Parties interested in making sales to us I mean. Our behaviours are analysed and our intentions reviewed. Companies like Amazon and Facebook know more about us than ever before. And their information on us is growing and becoming more and more comprehensive all the time.
One upon a time brands bought advertising on a wing and a prayer, hoping it would work. There’s a famous saying that goes something like this “I know half my advertising works, the problem is, I dont know which half!’. This is not the case today. Advertisers can target us by geography, age, race, religion, behaviours, intentions and much more. During the last election in the US it was claimed the company helping Donald Trump to eventual victory had a comprehensive profile on 50 million US voters, amassed through illegal acquisition of FaceBook data.
And whats the result of all this? We trust no one.
We hear time and time again about data breaches and hackers and virus’s and trojan’s and all sorts of other online nastiness. So much so, it’s probably fair to say we are getting to the point where we use only a small selection of retailers, travel companies, banks, and other service providers that we depend on. This in spite of the vast array of choices before us. And the common dominator? We trust them.
Maybe we’ve already had dealings with them. Or maybe a friend or relation has ‘vouched’ for them. We start dubiously, and gradually build to a point we trust them, and then we trust them so much we even advocate for them. Social media is full of people asking for referrals to trusted professionals. And I can see this trend increasing.
Sadly, even the power of referral and review is becoming bastardised by the internet with scandals hitting even previously whiter than white operations like Amazon and Trust Pilot.
Times they are a changing
All of which points to trust in brands becoming even more hard earned and treasured amongst consumers. Brands reputations will become vital to their sustainability, and a vital cog in the complex mechanics of todays consumer buying behaviour. The more we get abused by misleading advertising, interruptions, spam, data breaches, virus and hacks, the more we will cherish and use these trustworthy yet few companies.
I can see a time where people / consumers opt out of all marketing messages via their media, and measure the potential trustworthiness of a company they intend to do business with entirely on the basis of their compliance. Especially compliance with the burgeoning data protection regulations. A clean bill of health from the regulator, implying stand up practices, clean data, and no mismanagement or abuse of our personal information will be increasingly important.
And now is the time to get with that programme. The Data Protection Act of 2018 and GDPR is the starting point. And indeed a great place for your business to start to become aware of these issues and take action.
Talk to us at Cybata – we would be proud to help you on this journey.