MARKETING AND OUR CHANGING VALUES

The values that advertising and marketing portray have changed the way we think and feel about ourselves, our lives and what we consider important. As marketers we play with, and try our best to change, what is trusted and distrusted in order to persuade the consumer to buy from us.

The trouble is that our consumer, with greater access to information than ever before, is starting to see behind the messages, and often they don’t like what they see. They are becoming more empowered, more demanding and raising the bar. As they peer behind the messages into the companies generating them they are rapidly concluding that they can’t trust businesses, their brands, their advertising and above all their motivations.

The Result: either costs will increase as we have to try harder to persuade and reduce prices as everything commoditises and all markets become zero loyalty as consumers assume that all businesses and brands are as bad as each other.

The Challenge: to move our businesses and the brands that represent them towards a more sustainable, better model. To challenge ourselves as marketers to take on the responsibility not just for driving sales but commit ourselves and our brands to building positive social capital and through this finally regain trust.

For the complete guide on how to create trust in your businesses and brands get your copy of Why Should Anyone Buy from You? BUY NOW

CAN YOU CONNECT WITH REALITY?

 

Fear will continue to be the dominant trend of the coming years. As we continue to deal with the fallout from the financial collapse, repay our individual and national debts and deal with the environmental consequences of an economy built on mass consumption being able to connect and deal with consumer frustrations and fears will be increasingly important.

Understanding the risks and fears that a consumer is taking and helping them deal with these realities can create deeper, more profitable relationships. But understanding risk and fear is something modern marketers don’t seem to be very good at. Lucian Camp, Chairman of the advertising group Tangible and an independent consultant looked at the communications of financial products in the 1990s recession in the UK, and compared them with those in the current economic difficulties.

He found many of the brands in the 1990s recession used the harsh realities of unemployment and economic instability to connect with their potential consumer and sell product. Fast-forward to the recession of the last few years and financial advertising has continued to be dominated by the ‘people dancing down the beach happily,’ or happy-go-lucky sort of creative. Focusing overly on the positive means that the realities of life are largely denied in marketing. The risk is that brands become even more fantastic and less about solving day-to-day issues.

Most of us have only practised our trade in good times and therefore its unsurprising that we find it difficult to connect through risk and more downbeat messages. Going back to basics and understanding the role and real consumer needs that we are targeting and getting comfortable talking about difficult, potentially fear based situations, will be a skill that we would be wise to learn.

For the complete guide on how to create trust in your businesses and brands get your copy of Why Should Anyone Buy from You? BUY NOW

TRUST MATTERS

5 reasons why trust matters in business:

1. The economy runs on trust. Market failures, like the recent global financial meltdown, generally occur because somewhere trust has failed.

2. Cost is a consequence of mistrust. Without trust, your interactions with your customers, your suppliers, the media, your colleagues and even your boss, become more difficult and more expensive.

3. At the heart of every brand is trust. Those brands that are more trusted get bought more regularly and are proven to win in the market.

4. Society needs trust as social capital. Trust is a vital element in the cohesion of communities and people, without it we atomise and turn inward.

5. Trust makes us money. Whether that is through more profitable relationships or a stronger more vibrant economy trust is an essential.

For the complete guide on how to create trust in your businesses and brands get your copy of Why Should Anyone Buy from You? BUY NOW

THE FAILURE OF “AUTISTIC” MEASURES

Excerpts from my interview with Rory Sutherland, chairman, Ogilvy and Mather

On shareholders, consumers and employees

‘It’s all very well to say that the shareholder is  the most important group in a company (sic) but that’s not really true when employees might work for 20 years, customers may buy for 40 years and shareholders might hold onto the stock for a couple of days as a flipping exercise for short-term gain.’

On why trust takes a backseat in businesses today

‘Most businesses run through autistic measures. Anything that is numerical triumphs over anything that is less measurable, less quantifiable and long term, such as trust. You could argue that shareholder value movement and the stranglehold of accountants over businesses have made them less trustworthy. Almost all businesses are obsessed with the short-term and this makes it hard to build trust. ‘

‘There is a great phrase that trust grows at the speed of a coconut tree and falls at the speed of a coconut.”

For the complete guide on how to create trust in your businesses and brands get your copy of Why Should Anyone Buy from You? BUY NOW

ARE PEOPLE WHO TRUST DUMB?

In our cynical world today it’s easy to think that to trust means to be foolish and to distrust, smart? Experiments conducted in Japan proved just the opposite.

Toshio Yamagishi from the University of Japan created a series of experiments to examine the question: Are people who trust dumb?  Through thousands of questions asked to students and several experiments conducted with them, he found that far from being an irrational thing to do, trust is in fact a skill honed by the highly intelligent.

Making finely balanced human judgements based on feelings and emotions including who, why and when to trust are life skills essential to the successful human being. When you take upon yourself the risk to trust someone, you get better and better at evaluating what signals to listen to and what to discard in making your own decisions.

Trusting is an innate human tendency but it is also a skill. Trust needs to be practised, with risks being taken and new information and experiences gained in order to hone your trust senses.

Bottom line – If you don’t trust, you don’t learn to trust and you become worse at it.

For the complete guide on how to create trust in your businesses and brands get your copy of Why Should Anyone Buy from You? BUY NOW

HUMBLE IN THE FACE OF YOUR CUSTOMER

Excerpts from my interview with Nigel Gilbert – CMO of Virgin Media and former CMO Lloyds Banking Group

“All institutions, but especially financial services ignore a lack of trust at their peril. One of the positive outcomes that I hope from the recent difficult period is a diminishment of the arrogance that businesses have often treated their customers and clients with in the past. Arrogance is a deeply untrustworthy and unattractive trait. You should always be humble in the face of your customer. They have a choice and you shouldn’t simply assume their loyalty. ”

“They must look into their own hearts and really see what they are doing. There is often a dichotomy between what companies say they are about and what they actually do – their actions and their words are different. Organisations need to be more forensic about their activities, the impact of their actions and how they are perceived.”

For the complete guide on how to create trust in your businesses and brands get your copy of Why Should Anyone Buy from You? BUY NOW

WHO DO WE TRUST?

Survey shows those with profit and power fail at trust

The picture of who we trust is relatively stable. Over the 16 years between 1993 and 2009 Ipsos MORI in its ‘Trust in Doctor: Annual Survey of public trust in professions (2009)’ measured a 22% decrease in the trust held in business leaders and a 10% decline in the trust held in politicians. Even the trust ascribed to the ordinary man or woman in the street saw a 16% fall.

Generally the ‘altruistic’ professions, such as doctors, nurses or teachers are more trusted than commercial or ‘power driven’ professions, such as business people or politicians. When those being trusted are not out to gain something for themselves, such as profit or power, we find it much easier to trust.

For the complete guide on how to create trust in your businesses and brands get your copy of Why Should Anyone Buy from You? BUY NOW

 

THE TRUST FACTOR

It could well be one of the most vital ingredients of our existence; a foundation of the economy, our businesses, and our brands, perhaps even society itself.  Trust is an easy thing to feel but a hard thing to decode.

In this fast moving era of the 24×7 news cycle, with the eruption of information availability and our changing social landscape – trust is one factor that has not only become more complex but has also failed entirely on several occasions with major consequences.

From Lehman brothers to BP to Toyota to British politicians’ expenses to global warming science and even the global financial meltdown, brands and their consumers have suffered from serious, catastrophic collapses in trust.

In spite of these transformed markets and a more cynical consumer all is not lost. Over the next few weeks and months we will be exploring the landscape of trust and how you can build and rebuild trust in your business, brand or organisation.

Through a series of blog posts and excerpts from my new book Why Should Anyone Buy from You? we will create insights around strategy, brands, marketing and communication that will help you create trust in brands and drive the growth of your businesses.

If you want to know about what we believe can be the twenty-first century mission for marketing – the re-humanization of business then keep reading.

For the complete guide on how to create trust in your businesses and brands get your copy of Why Should Anyone Buy from You? BUY NOW

BETTING ON FEAR

Human beings have a difficult relationship with fear and risk. Ulrich Beck (1992), a German sociologist and professor at the London School of Economics coined the term ‘risk society.’ He used the term to sum up societies where risk has become a major concern, leading to people living in fear.

Marketers and salespeople have known for a long time that fear and loss sell.

 

Fear is the ‘lower order’ stick and the brand is the ‘higher order’ carrot. Think of all the ads which claim that if you don’t buy this or that brand you are running mortal risk. The soap and detergent ads that destroy our invisible enemies – bacteria – and protect our children. One ad campaign or another may not have effect on the overall level of fear in society but, combined with the media and all other fear-based messages from other brands, it does contribute to the overall negative impact.

Fear affects the level of social capital in our society by making us more worried, stressed and less trusting. Loss and the fear it invokes changes our behaviour and causes us to act irrationally.

Today however the smartest brands are moving away from this interventionist trend. They no longer depend on unfounded fears to create new needs but realize that they can prosper and build trust by delivering their product or service efficiently, whilst having small moments of celebration with their customer in just getting the job done correctly. A Zappos video, an Innocent wooly hat, or even just a smile and a thank you from someone behind the counter – these are authentic  ways to connect and build the relationship.

For the complete guide on how to create trust in your businesses and brands get your copy of Why Should Anyone Buy from You? BUY NOW

PEOPLE KNOW

We are so much smarter than the average business or marketer gives us credit for. We are also so much smarter than a brand or segmentation analysis.

People know.

They know where a business “is” and whether it should be trusted. Whilst wehave rightly been shocked by the revelations about the Murdoch empire most people knew something was up and that journalists weren’t trustworthy. That’s why less than 1 in 10 of us trusts journalists.

The journey to becoming a trusted brand and business is a journey of many steps. Given today’s hyper-connected and hyper-informed consumer, where all information is but a click away and sharing that information another, businesses and marketers need to realise that there is nowhere to hide.

If you have poor practises and poor processes, a bad product, treat your employees (whether at home or outsourced) badly then you will be found out. So if you want to be trusted then you need to change those things that you aren’t proud of. And time and time again people forgive and credit businesses that show leadership.

Take McDonalds. Now I’m not holding MaccyDs up as a paragon of virtue but when the consumer shone the light of transparency on them over the past couple of decades they were found wanting. A poor environmental record, a poor attitude to their employees and a product that was bad for you. Whilst attitude of Morgan Spurlock’s 2004 movie Super Size Me wasn’t the average view, consumers could smell something wasn’t right and they started making different choices.

The initial reaction of this uber-corporation was to focus on the simple and surface. People thought the food was unhealthy especially for kids therefore we suddenly saw salads and fruit-bags on the menu. None of this worked. Sales fell and fell because no one goes to a McDonalds for a salad. It was dissonant with the brand.

But McDonalds to their credit realised that there was nowhere to hide and that they needed to start to make the journey to trusted status by doing the hard work. Today, whilst they still have issues to deal with, they are a much better business and organisation for it. Food has been reformulated to be lower calorie, lower in salt and sugar. Coffee is rain-forest certified and fish is sustainable. Beef comes from British and Irish farms. Employees now have a range of options to train for qualifications. Stores have been revamped to create a much improved experience.

These real and difficult changes are now being celebrated in their advertising. This is the right way round. Make the core changes to become a trusted business and then shout about it. We want businesses and brands that do better and take their responsibilities seriously. We don’t want businesses that make knee-jerk reactions and make excuses.

Selling the News of the World and pulling out of the BskyB bid were desperate attempts by the Murdochs to stem the blood loss and they haven’t worked. What will work is a genuine and authentic recognition that there are serious issues at the heart of the business and then a commitment to starting the decade of work they will need to do to take the opportunity to create a better business. This should start with governance and control and with the Murdoch family stepping aside and allowing a new team to take the reins.

When we see real, meaningful change in a business we credit it with our custom – whilst News International’s value is decreasing by billions, McDonald’s first quarter global results this year showed profit up 11% year on year and revenues up 9% to £3.8bn.

Thanks for reading

Justin