Matthew Ferrara, Philosopher
 

Are You Building Trust or Just Making Noise?

Trust is the ultimate tool.

I speak for myself when I say: enough with the noise. People are saturated. Not because there are more channels than ever – mobile, social, web, text. People are tuning out because every channel is drowning in noise. Numbers, half-facts and clipped headlines spewed endlessly from people who think they’re communicating. Or worse, that they’re marketing.

The purpose of marketing is to know the consumer so well, that your product or service fits them, and virtually sells itself, said Peter Drucker. Marketing discovers what want and need, then speaks to those desires. Marketing is not spouting that you have the mostest, bestest, coolest, number-one-est. In fact, the existence of #2, #3, and #4 entities in every industry prove that #1 is an iffy at best value proposition. 

No, marketing, to be marketing, must be meaningful communication. It must make a connection between something you can do or create – or something you simply are – to that which a consumer values.

People don’t value your ranking; your huffing, your puffing. They are too concerned with what they need to care too much about your dominance. What people value is the answer to the question: how will you make my life a little better?

Better is a value, which requires an more critical value: Trust. Trust is the pre-requisite to any trade. Consumers must trust you before they can hear you. Consumers first trust their airline will do its best to keep them safe, before asking it to arrive on-time. They trust Apple to make a worthy product, before asking it to entertain them. They must first trust that their lawyer, doctor or real estate professional knows what they are doing – before offering them a chance to affect their legal, physical or financial existence.

Trust isn’t just back: it’s back with a vengeance. Consumers are less trustful than ever. So distrustful they seek opinions from people they don’t know, on websites they can’t verify. They’re desperate for trust, from anybody except marketers. Now that’s a deficit far deeper than any budget.

It’s desperately annoying to see what passes for marketing these days. Nonsense treated as if it had meaning. Like our website has more traffic! Or, our klout score is higher! Or, we have more salespeople! Or, we have more fans! Or, now is the best time to buy! Whatever. It’s all just noise. When marketing is reduced to silly statistics and caveman urgings, don’t blame people for tuning out. They can spot meaningless marketing, they do, and then they tune out. Forever.

No trust for you? No sale for you!

Worse, puffery-marketing has infected the talking-heads, the book writers, the speechifiers. Trust is squandered by those we hoped would point us in the right direction. Instead, we’re urged to dominate the noise. Be in the “top 99” tweeters, is held up as a goal. Join the big herd, be the big mouth, is praised as worthy. Meanwhile, an individual customer sits waiting for some valuable personal attention. The talking-heads are reducing new media to a circus freak show: Spin more plates, juggle more balls, tweet more twaddle!

Noise!

What else is there? Well, for starters, there’s marketing. Talk to customers – just one, or a few – and ask them what they desire, need, fear? Discover how to help them feel comfortable and secure before making a purchase, a sale, a referral. Tweet that. Blog it. Video it. Dance it. Create a reason for them to hope: I just might trust this person (or company) to help me achieve something valuable.

Keep all the rest – the rankings, the comparisons, the bragging – to yourself. Silence, please!
Build trust; add value. Stop adding to the noise. You’ll find the deal will virtually close itself.

  • Amen!

  • It’s like you read my mind. A few weeks ago I got 7 identical emails from agents at the same firm. All with no relevant information, just to call them if I was looking to buy, sell or knew anyone who may be. Reminds me of what my Mama said to us growing up…..”if you don’t have anything nice (relevant) to say, don’t say nothing at all.”

  • Isn’t it almost ridiculous? Who sends messages saying “if you’re looking…”? It’s almost like sending a 1970s postcard with one’s high-school photo on it (grin!). It’s time for professional marketers to focus on meaningful discussions, not mass blasts :> Thanks for your comment!

  • I love this! It’s gonna make some people cry, but that’s okay. SOmetimes the truth makes us cry. 🙂

  • Thanks, Vance! I think the truth – and truth in marketing – will ultimately make us all smile… a few tears today but a much better future if we get beyond the noise and start talking about meaningful things.