How to Market When Trust Is Gone [Data]

Product Reviews & Recommendations: 7 Places Consumers Look

Forget Mad Men marketing because customer trust is gone.  For marketers, change is sorely needed since only one in twenty consumers trust advertising. Even worse, more than half of customers think that companies are only interested in selling, according to 2010 research by Alterian. Therefore, it’s no surprise that consumers are turning to social media and feeling empowered when it comes to purchase decisions! About 70% of consumers gather information from a variety of sources before making a purchase decision.

3 Factors customers look for in products

Given the current realities, what must marketers do to build trust with their prospects, customers and the public?

  1. Provide strong products. Even the world’s best marketing won’t convert a crappy product into something amazing that everyone wants. You may sell some additional units but you’ll probably lose those customers for good.
  2. Be good corporate citizen. Understand that transparency is expected in today’s social media world as a part of a company’s social responsibility. As a result, you must build trust customer by customer. Social media has pulled back the curtains on what companies do and customers expect them to behave in a way that adds to the greater good.
  3. Make messaging consistent. Consistent repetition, repetition, repetition helps. Realize that it takes customers 3-5 times of hearing a message for it to sink in, often across different platforms helps. Relationships are at the heart of trust and must be built interaction by interaction. Trust colors how customers perceive brands. While it generally takes consumers 3-5 times before they believe information about a company, this is reduced to 1-2 times when consumers have a preconceived view of the firm. Where do consumers go to get information about products and companies.

Where do consumers go to get information about products and companies

Based on research from Alterian, here’s a hierarchy of how consumers view trusted sources.

  1. Family and friends. This tops most lists regardless of who’s doing the research. Ask a group of consumers who they trust and they’re likely to say family and friends. What they mean is “people like me”. This is the driving power behind social media’s strength when it comes to merchandising.
  2. Social media contacts. For many participants, these contacts are an extension of their personal networks and they know these people in real life. (Of course, this depends on the network and the user’s approach to connecting with strangers.)
  3. Professional reviews. Think Consumer Reports and movie reviews. The challenge is that professional reviewers are selective in what they choose to assess and the products that you’re looking for haven’t been reviewed.
  4. Amazon. For many consumers, Amazon, the granddaddy of ratings and reviews, is a publisher of product reviews and one of the first places they turn when they shop, regardless of where they eventually buy.
  5. Third party review sites. This includes sites like TripAdvisor or Zagats. On a local basis, it encompasses Yelp, Yahoo, Google and Foursquare as sources of information. Don’t overlook the newer forms of social commerce that fall into this category.
  6. Product sites. Aided by ratings and reviews, retailers’ and manufacturers’ websites are also useful especially since consumers are now using smartphones to gather information in your stores.
  7. Search engines. According to Edelman’s trust Research, roughly three in ten customers turn to search first for information about a company. Where do your products and services rank?

For marketers, understand that you must work to build consumer trust. Social media didn’t destroy trust. Social media empowered consumers to reach out to people they do trust. Trust has to be built with every interaction and transaction. It requires strong products combined with a level of transparency to show customers that you are trustworthy and deliver on your word. While many marketers will find this is a challenge, the more you put into building these connections, the more it will help you build your social media base.

How do you think that marketers should build trust with their customers and the public? Do you have any examples to share?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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Photo credit: MahPadilha via Flickr

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