How would you evaluate your marketing efforts in terms of trustworthiness on a scale of 1-10 (low to high)? Many are the times that I have seen people inside companies cringe at the way a colleague marketer speaks, or roll their eyes at the types of claims that their company ads make. I recall certain conversations when we would discuss the merits of putting NEW on the front of the packaging and what actually warranted being new? Then there were the negotiations with the Research and Development department in an effort to translate a scientific claim into a worthy consumer-focused terminology (aka marketing speak)… that inevitably entailed pushing the envelope… of truth.

Your trustworthiness score?

So, where does your marketing team and brand messages stand on the trustworthiness scale? In whose eyes is this trustworthiness most important for you?

Being employee first?

At the low end of the scale, even your employees don’t believe what you say. Your messages are cloaked in obscurity and, at best, offer half-lies. It’s a critical step to understand that your employees’ opinions matter. I believe being employee first is a vital component to building a trustworthy brand.

As you move up the scale, your employees might ‘blindly’ believe, but your customers and third-party partners don’t necessarily trust what you say or write. Judged on the annual trust survey by Ipsos-Mori, marketers and executives in general are consistently near the very bottom among trustworthy professions. The mountain to climb to regain any semblance of trustworthiness is going to be difficult, especially considering the amount of clutter and general noise in the airwaves and on the Internet.

Building trust means closing the gap

While your intentions may be honourable, as you move up the scale, there is a niggling breakdown between what you say and what you do. You need to mind that gap when you seek to be trusted.

You need to mind the gap between what you say and what you do when you seek to be trusted. #trust #marketing #actionsspeaklouderthanwords Click To Tweet

As the classic song, Parole Parole (sung by Alberto and Mino Lupo) suggests, actions are more powerful than words. Moving toward level 7 on the above scale, marketers continue to believe that they can/must control the narrative. It’s still about the “comms” and trying to manage if not massage the message. Yet, we know that trust is in the eye of the beholder and, ultimately, what others say about you is more powerful than what you recount about yourself.

Trust is in the eye of the beholder and, ultimately, what others say about you is more powerful than what you recount about yourself. #trust #marketing #actions Click To Tweet

A message that resonates

It’s in this context that I came across a rather charming advertising brochure (mailer) from Riverford Organic Farmers. Notwithstanding the fact that they are selling organic food — which I feel comes with some kind of karma credit — their message is genuinely down to earth. I personally love their claim: 0% off, veg too good to discount.

Rather than selling at a discount, the company is promoting the “true value of veg.” In other words, they believe in their product and its beneficial effects. Their offer is oriented around “100% organic. Less plastic. Free delivery.”

While such a claim is not new, for me, there are three key lessons in this Riverford mailer:

  • Depending on the karma credit of your industry and/or your brand, you have a relative need to bear down on the trustworthiness of your messaging. But whatever your industry, keep in mind that the BS spray is always close at hand.
  • Customers still want to feel that they are getting a deal… so the FREE DELIVERY feels just about right.
  • Actions and execution will weigh more heavily than stated promises. Transparency helps to back up your offer. Not that one can believe everything Riverford writes, but their tone is certainly down to earth. To wit: the brochure talks about “potatoes like your grandad used to grow.”

Art form or science?

Being trustworthy is a journey. It takes a long time to build up and can be washed away in a flash. It’s an art form in that we’re dealing with human emotions and relations. But, there is a science in being sound, delivering on realistic promises and executing on time.

There is a science in being sound, delivering on realistic promises and executing on time. #buildingtrust #execution #trust Click To Tweet

Where does your brand sit on the trustworthiness scale? What are you doing to climb the scale?

Because if you’re not trying, someone else will do the speaking for you!

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