Marketing Circle of Trust: How to Improve Relationships for Social Good [Research]

Marketing Circle of Trust

As a mathematical constant, Pi (π) or 3.14 for short is the ultimate irrational number.

When calculated to over a million digits beyond its decimal point, Pi remains infinite and patternless.

Representing the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, Pi is key to geometry calculations.

Recently, Pi and circles gained traction as memes and GIFs from the movie, Meet The Parents.

Jack played by Robert De Niro says to Greg played by Ben Stiller:

“[W]ith the knowledge you’ve been given, you are now on the inside of what I like to call… “the Byrnes family circle of trust.” I keep nothing from you, you keep nothing from me… and round and round we go.”


Circle of Trust – from Meet The Parents

Since circles depend on Pi’s irrationality, this reinforces the Circle of Trust concept.

Why does this matter to you?
Because marketing runs on trust.

But trust remains low in today’s polarized environment (Edelman Trust Barometer 2019):

  • Half of respondents don’t believe that they’ll be better off in 5 years.
  • Only one in five feels that the system works for them.

Despite improved ratings, government and media entities rank lower than businesses for trust. As a result, people turn to businesses for stability.

What must marketers provide?

  • Consistency focused on a repeatable experience.
  • Focus on customer needs, not their business
  • Useful content that’s free of promotion.


As a result, think beyond your next promotion or campaign.

Since every element of organization must deliver on your core values.

So examine how to increase customer trust to achieve goals that benefit society.


Marketing Circle Of Trust Defined

Marketing Circle of Trust

At its core the marketing circle of trust depends on an organization’s relationships with its audience. This trust extends to your employees, customers, prospects, purchase influencers, management and the public.

The marketing circle of trust extends the concept of customer trust to include business, market and political-economic dynamics. Because these factors influence customers’ purchase decisions since they seek information from sources they trust.

Further, according to academic research by Michael D. Johnson and Seigyoung Auh many factors influence customer trust in a business. They consist of 3 types:

  1. Business level where customers and a specific business interact (as well as employees),
  2. Market level defines the environment in which the customer and firm engage, and
  3. Political, economic, social, and technological level in which the market functions.

Currently customers trust business more than their governments or media.A Modest Rise In Trust

Deeper examination of customer trust revealed 9 drivers of authenticity (based on FleishmanHillard 2017 Global Authenticity Gap Research).

9 Drivers of Authenticity

Customer benefits shape 51% of customer trust perceptions:

  • Offer better value products and services.
  • Improve your customer care.
  • Innovate to create new and/or better products and services.

Management behaviors account for 24% of customer trust perceptions:

  • Are committed to doing the right thing.
  • Have more consistent and stable financial and operational performance.
  • Communicate frequently and credibly.

Society outcomes influence 25% of customer trust perceptions:

  • Care for employees.
  • Contribute to society by improving “my community.”
  • Helps improve the environment.


Dollar Value of the Marketing Circle of Trust

The value of marketing circle of trust extends beyond your organization’s relationships with people. Your circle of trust has an impact on your business’s bottom line!

Trust requires corporate transparency, consistency and honesty over time. Further these values must be an integral part of the business’s DNA.

Without trust, your organization risks future profitability and sustainability

  • 54% of Accenture’s Strategy Competitive Agility Index companies had a material loss of trust.
  • As a result,they lost $180 billion in revenues based on Accenture  calculations.


Marketing Circle of Trust: Consumers Trust Other Consumers

The Marketing Circle of Trust Bottom Line:
People trust people they know. When they can’t turn to people they know, they turn to the wisdom of crowds.

This translates to tapping into the power of your organization’s most trusted individuals, especially your technical experts and regular employees.

Your employees embody your organization’s beliefs and shape customer views.
Since your audience develops views and trust of your company based on interactions with your employees, namely your sales team, retail employees and customer service.

Active Employee Voices

While customers turn to CEOs to provide the leadership they find lacking in government and elsewhere, they don’t consider your CEO trustworthy!

Looking for leadership from CEOS


Marketing Circle of Trust: What Makes Customers Trust Businesses

Companies can no longer buy consumer trust with large advertising budgets!

In Jay Baer’s words, “The reason people are trusted more than advertising is that there’s no financial stake in the outcome!”Click To Tweet


Instead you must earn your audience’s trust at every touchpoint and with every engagement!

This 2015 Forrester Research chart of the B2B Buyer Journey shows why:

B2B Buyer Journey

Skip the promotion and marketing-speak. According to TopRank Marketing’s Lee Odden, “You must be the best answer!”

So  your product must deliver on its promise and provide value to your customer since value outweighs both company purpose and price (in 2018  Cone Communications Research). To understand the underlying marketing theory, check The 4Ps of the Marketing Mix.

Also, it’s easy to lose customer trust:

  • 81% lose trust over a poor product experience.
  • 78% lose trust due to a poor customer experience.

Bottom line:
If your product doesn’t yield a positive experience for the shopper, they’re gone.

But surprisingly only about half lose trust due to a security breach. Perhaps, security and privacy problems happen so frequently that we’ve become immune to their dangers! This can be a difficult hurdle for businesses, especially those that outsource one or more data related services.

What would make you lose trust in a company


Marketing Circle of Trust: Why Businesses Must Stand For Social Good

In terms of the Marketing Circle of Trust, your organization must stand for a greater social good. Beyond your bottom line, act as socially responsible global citizen.  

In Marketing Rebellion, Mark Schaefer makes a case for add “Purpose” as a 5th P in the Marketing Mix.

78% of Americans believe it is no longer acceptable for companies to just make money (according to 2018 Cone Communications Purpose Research).

62% of global customers want companies to take a stand on issues including sustainability, transparency and/or fair employment practices (Accenture).

Further, about 60% of GenZers and Millennials believe companies should take a stand on issues such as human rights, race relations or LGBTQ equality (Accenture).

Consumer Response to Purpose-Driven Companies


Marketing Circle of Trust Conclusion

As power has shifted from businesses to buyers, your business must enter the Marketing Circle of Trust.

To this end, business and your employees must be transparent and consistent while building relationships with prospects and customers. Trust is personal for your audience.

Beyond delivering quality products at a fair price, your organization must contribute to the greater social good. This includes taking a stand on important issues such as equal rights, care for our global resources and other key issues.

Remember each interaction helps build trust.


Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on FacebookTwitter and Google+.


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Photo Credit: circle of trust GIF:

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