Trust Capital Is the New Marketing Gold Standard

Now, more than ever, trust capital may become the new marketing gold standard, joining brand equity as a key metric for valuing a company’s relationship with its customers and prospects.

My father used to caution not to believe everything one heard or read. He was not a cynic but an optimistic realist. Nonetheless, like the majority of his generation, his basic intuition urged him to trust existing institutions and assume (that most dangerous word), that what they were saying or doing was for the common good. “Fake news” had not morphed from the lingua franca to become the lingua twitter.

That’s not always the case anymore. MediaPost shared the following on Mar. 19:

“The news business is battling public distrust. Nearly half of respondents to a new Axios/Ipsos poll said they do not trust traditional media ‘very much or at all” to accurately deliver information about the COVID-19 virus.’”

That distrust should inform how marketers must rethink their approach to customers and prospects as we plunge into a new and uncertain era.

On Jan. 19, the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer published this worrisome finding:

“… despite a strong global economy and near full employment, none of the four societal institutions that the study measures — government, business, NGOs and media — is trusted. The cause of this paradox can be found in people’s fears about the future and their role in it, which are a wake-up call for our institutions to embrace a new way of effectively building trust: balancing competence with ethical behavior.”

If “disbelief” is the new normal gut reaction to our foundation institutions, it goes without saying that our commercial messages, however well wrapped in engaging narratives are likely to need the “suspension of disbelief” to be effective. That almost certainly means stepping back a little (or a lot) from our “act now” knee-jerk impulses and asking ourselves what we need to do to achieve that “suspension,” to establish the critical trust that my father suggested might be missing.

Building Trust With Customers and Prospects

If we look at the Amazon ethos, building credibility item by item, on-time delivery by on-time delivery, rapid refund by rapid refund, trust impacts each transaction more than efficiency. Not surprisingly, that same Edelman study found “ethical drivers such as integrity, dependability, and purpose drive 76% of the trust capital of business, while competence accounts for only 24%.”

Trust capital may become the new marketing gold standard, joining brand equity as a key metric for valuing a company’s relationship with its customers and prospects.

But how can we measure integrity, dependability and purpose? It may be easier said than done. Perhaps a good starting point is looking backwards.

How much feedback have you had from your customers, especially negative feedback? (We all love compliments but we seldom learn from them.)

One of my first jobs was to read complaint letters, research what had (or had not) gone wrong, and then write for the signature of the CEO, a truly personal answer. The number of “thank you” notes we received was the best lesson you could have in the value of real personalization.

If you don’t have a strong culture of responding to every complaint, not with a form letter or email but with a thoughtful and helpful personal communication, you should put one in place, now. If I can’t talk to a knowledgeable and helpful human being instead of an algorithm, like many others, I’m gone and your trust capital has tanked, or at best, taken a hit.

A recent blog post from Yes Marketing put it this way:

“In a world driven by access to options, an emotional connection with a brand can be the tipping point for consumers when deciding where to spend their dollars.”

You certainly want it to tip your way, and that means doing whatever is necessary to establish and retain that emotional connection and trust.

Whatever we do to build trust capital during these uncertain times, even if not immediately measurable, is certain to pay big dividends when the crisis is past.

 

The Data-Inspired Big Idea: Why That Matters in the Ad Business

We are amid an age where consumers are royalty — and it’s the brands that serve them. Yes, data science is required to uncover insights and inform the creative strategy, for both prospecting and retention. But that big idea still lies in the creative execution.

I just got schooled this past week at the Association of National Advertisers Masters of Marketing Conference in Orlando, along with 3,000-plus industry colleagues.

You see, I’m a data- and direct marketing- junkie. Advertising is worthless if it’s not accountable and measurable (check and check). As I was reminded repeatedly this week it also must be memorable (not always checked).

What does this mean? That in today’s always-on but distracted consumer marketplace, the ad message must tell a story. It needs compelling creative, a message that resonates, and a big idea that’s transparent and authentic and unique to a brand.

We are amid an age where consumers are royalty and it’s the brands that serve them. Yes, in the customer experience mix, data plays a pivotal role. Yes, data science is required to uncover insights and inform the creative strategy, for both prospecting and retention. But that big idea still lies in the creative execution that’s the clincher. If it doesn’t hook, then it’s not going to stick.

Brand-Building Requires Purpose and Perspective

Consider some of these executions showcased at the conference, and look for how the brand creates an emotional connection:

Disney | The Little Duck

Target | Design for All

Chipotle | Bee For Real

Ally | Banksgiving

Dunkin | Fuel Your Destiny

https://youtu.be/31A1EsTZlHA

The Data Play in ‘Brand Crave’

Then ask yourself, what role does data play in these brand stories?

At the conference, there were plenty of CMOs discussing first-party data, customer journey mapping, personas, net promoter scores, operational data, transactional data, and sentiment scoring among other metrics and inputs. Even second- and third-party data were mentioned (albeit briefly here) about how to expand reach, discover new customers, and deepen understanding with existing customers. These data points also inform the creative brief, as well as shape the media strategy.

Researchers still report that consumers still base many of their buying decisions on impulse, and on emotion. According to Kirk Perry, president of global client and agency solutions at Google, as much as 70% of advertising success depends on creative; and Kai Wright, lecturer at Columbia University, reported on how emotion weighs into consumer consideration and purchase behavior (see Image 1).

Image 1:  Emotion & Experiential Data Motivate Consumer Behavior, Perhaps More Than Audience Data

Data-Inspired big idea image
Credit: Kai Wright, Columbia University, ANA Masters of Marketing Conference, 2019.

SAP CMO Alicia Tillman reports that humans experience (and act upon) 27 emotions (Image 2). “Any one can make or break a brand or category.”

Image 2: Lots of Sentiment Scoring

Data-Inspired big idea sentiment scoring
Credit: Alicia Tillman, SAP, at ANA Masters of Marketing Conference, 2019

“Nobody can differentiate on data! It’s data-inspired storytelling that is going to win the future,” said Rishad Tobaccowala, chief growth officer at Publicis Groupe.

We are great at curating audience data. For a next-generation data ecosystem, what are we doing to help create more effective marketing through finding innovative ways to score emotion, at-scale?  What are we doing to include these consumer motivators in our business rules, algorithms and to help enhance creative prowess in authentic ways? You solve for these opportunities and there are many brand leaders and CMOs likely ready to talk to you.

It’s time to help brands tell their data-inspired stories.

 

Emotions Matter — Why Your B2B Marketing Must Connect Before It Can Convert

Have you ever walked into a store or restaurant and thought to yourself, “Yes! This just feels right.” If so, then the rest of this article won’t come as any surprise to you; though if you’re like many marketers, your B2B marketing may be overlooking the value and importance of that “it just feels right” moment.

Have you ever walked into a store or restaurant and thought to yourself, “Yes! This just feels right.”

If so, then the rest of this article won’t come as any surprise to you; though if you’re like many marketers, your B2B marketing may be overlooking the value and importance of that “it just feels right” moment.

We’re Not All Coolly Rational Consumers

We may like to think that B2B prospects are all like Mr. Spock — coolly rational and unswayed by their emotions, but research and our own experience disproves that at nearly every turn.

Like a Rock, Best-in-Class, or Ram Tough

Credit: Wikimedia Commons by Colin

Lets look for a moment at pickup trucks. There is a large group of buyers who would never consider a Ford pickup truck. And a similarly large group who wouldn’t be caught dead in a truck sporting a Chevrolet or GMC nameplate.

They can’t both be right about the superiority of their chosen brand; which, setting aside functional differences — like towing capacity being more important than torque or vice versa — leaves only the emotional component of the brand.

(My choice of pickups as an example isn’t random. Truck buyers are reputed to be among the most brand-loyal consumers on the planet, though there is some evidence that this is changing.)

Connecting Without Smothering

Back to B2B marketers: For us, the trick is in making an emotional connection without making your case emotionally. We can’t “chew the scenery,” so to speak. We simply don’t have an audience that is as passionate about our services as consumers are about trucks or chocolate or puppies and kittens in need of forever homes … But we do need to make sure we’re connecting with our audience on a level other than “just the facts, ma/am.”

Even with the necessity of a more restrained approach, we do need to create opportunities for our prospects to feel their decision rather than just think it. How do we do this?

Well, there are a lot of tools that can work. Developing personas for your buyers and doing market research into their needs can help you understand motivation and pain points around which emotional connections can be built. Also important are things like testimonials from existing clients and case studies about success stories from people “just like me” who have used your service to profitable effect.

Whose Language Are You Speaking?

Perhaps most importantly, it requires language and presentation that is comfortable to the prospect. Are you speaking their language? Have you met them where they live?

At some point, prospects will want to hear you geek out on the minutiae of your offering — the details and features that make it a better choice. But first, they want to feel the benefits. How does this benefit me? How does this reduce my risk? How is this preferable to doing nothing?

This isn’t an easy goal to achieve consistently, but one worth striving for. Because if you can bring that ever-so-subtle smile to your prospect’s face that says, “Yeah, this is going to work,” you’ve got a winning formula.

Use My Personal Data, But Don’t Offend Me

I’m fine with companies collecting my data; however, how about providing me something in return?

I’m fine with companies collecting my data; however, how about providing me something in return?

I’m a huge college football fan and watched most of the 41 bowl games that just wrapped up with Alabama beating Georgia in the second-best bowl game of the year, next to the Rose Bowl.

Nissan is a significant sponsor of college football. It runs commercials throughout the games and has spent a lot of money producing the humorous Heisman House series that appears before the kickoff of major games.

I noticed the addition of a five-second tag at the end of a few Nissan commercials, saying it was the official vehicle of “Duke Blue Devil” fans. I live in Raleigh, N.C. There are a lot more University of North Carolina (UNC), N.C. State University (NCSU), and East Carolina (ECU) alumni in Raleigh than Duke alumni.

I can only assume I was targeted to receive this tag with programmatic advertising because I have two degrees from Duke. You can pick this up from Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. However, if you look deeper at my profiles and posts, you’ll learn pretty quickly that I’m not a Duke fan, I’m a UNC fan because of Dean Smith — the person and the coach.

Instead of making me feel an affinity to Nissan, it alienated me. Over the past 15 years, I’ve owned three Nissans, but just replaced my last one with a Hyundai. When it’s time to replace the current Hyundai, if we’re still owning cars, I will remember Nissan’s mistake. Is it significant enough for me to not consider a Nissan? We’ll see.

The amount of data companies have access to in order to identify the needs, wants, likes and dislikes of consumers is huge. Granted, we’re in the infancy of using this data to improve marketing; however, companies must be smarter about how they are going to use this data.

How about this? Focus on providing information of value to make customers’ and prospects’ lives simpler and easier instead of trying to make an emotional connection which, in fact, offends. It’s much less risky to tell your story than it is to attempt to make an emotional connection based on big data, which is inherently impersonal.

The Elements of Great Direct Marketing

The elements of great direct marketing have mostly remained unchanged. Target an audience, make an emotional connection, offer them what they want, make it easy for them to order, measure response and learn from the experience so you can do it better next time. The “All About Direct Marketing Virtual Conference” is built to show the elements of great direct marketing in today’s marketing environment.

There was a time when the term “direct marketing” pretty much only meant direct mail, because that was the only addressable channel out there. Then, of course, came direct space ads, radio and TV, telemarketing, and finally, the Internet.

Throughout them all, the elements of great direct marketing have mostly remained unchanged. Target an audience, make an emotional connection, offer them what they want, make it easy for them to order, measure response and learn from the experience so you can do it better next time.

Always be improving, optimizing, expanding the audience while better targeting what you send them.

These ideas are no less essential today than they were 50 years ago.

What is a little different is how to employ them.

Audiences online are easier and cheaper to reach thanks to all the digital channels. But they’re less defined by their demographics than their interests and self-perception. Getting them to engage and trust you is a totally different challenge; one that often has to be met by proving the authenticity of your brand more than offering a simple satisfaction guarantee.

All About Direct Marketing

The “All About Direct Marketing Virtual Conference” is built to show how the elements of great direct marketing are still essential to succeeding in today’s marketing environment.

Targeting an audience: The show kicks off with our reigning Marketer of the Year Windsor Hanger Western, who’s built her empire on connecting with college-age women — she’ll talk about how to connect with the upcoming generation Y and Z audience. And the show closes with Julie Rezek, President North America for the Hacker Agency, sharing her world-renowned insights about how marketers should be connecting with women today.


Making an emotional connection: “5 Emotions That Fuel Sales and How to Tap Into Them” (with Mandy Marksteiner) and “Color Psychology and How It Can Make or Break Your ROI” (with Jeanette McMurtry) will show you how to connect with your audience.

Offer them what they want and make it easy to order: That may be very specific to your audience, but Gary Hennerberg’s “10 Ingredients for Your Video to go Viral” and Summer Gould’s “Bring Direct Mail to Life With Interactive Elements” will show you how to make direct marketing that breaks through the clutter and demands a response.

But perhaps the best part about attending All About Direct Marketing is that it’s entirely free and online. You can watch it right from your desk, couch, coffee shop or wherever you want, as demonstrated by Melissa Ward:

I guarantee John Wannamaker was never able to do that!

The elements of great direct marketing may be timeless, but the environment you market in is constantly changing. Join us on May 4 to learn how to bring those elements together and market better today.

Our Heroes May Pass On, But We Never Lose That Emotional Connection

We’re only a few short weeks into the year, and I’ve lost three of my “friends” from my lonely-kid-in-rural-Nebraska days listening to the radio, buying records, and transcribing the weekly Billboard countdown, courtesy of Casey Kasem, in my little notebook

Artists Tweeting goodbyes to Glenn Frey of The Eagles.
Take it easy, Glenn.

We’re only a few short weeks into the year, and I’ve lost three of my “friends” from my lonely-kid-in-rural-Nebraska days listening to the radio, buying records and transcribing the weekly Billboard countdown, courtesy of Casey Kasem, in my little notebook. Always, it was my older sister who got to go to the concerts then … trekking to Denver or Lincoln.

Glenn Frey of The Eagles, David Bowie and Natalie Cole … all of them now suddenly beyond us. Undoubtedly, they passed each other on the charts countless times during the 1970s. I’ve spent the past few days on YouTube and my iPod … “This Will Be” (Natalie Cole’s debut single in 1976, netting her a Grammy), “Lyin’ Eyes” (The Eagles scored three Top 10 hits from their “One of These Nights” LP), and “Fame” (David Bowie’s first U.S. No. 1, in 1975, co-written by John Lennon — here he is live on “Soul Train”) all being among my all-time favorites.

Yes, when our pop heroes and heroines leave us, we’re nostalgic, melancholic and we wonder if any other living artist can ever take their place. The message in music is always there, today as well as yesterday, but do we ever absorb it the same as we did when we were 13 years old?

Lucky for me, I can honestly say when I hear my 70s playlist today, I reliably transport myself to the emotions I had when I first “processed” a song — the goose bumps, the inside tear or smile, even my emotional state at the time in Ogallala, Neb. That’s the power of musicians, artists, producers and songwriters: that emotional journey.

Today, we have the Adele phenomenon … and I’ve been taken in by her since I first heard a raw cut of “Chasing Pavements” eight years ago. And Pharrell is genius, since I first came to know him from “Provider” back in 2002 as N*E*R*D. Of course, the circumstances of my life, play and work are far, far different from being a Great Plains misfit (now I live in New York City, where all misfits can still find a home), but I’m still that little oddball kid when it comes to music consumption.

How does all this relate to advertising and marketing? I’m certain when I hear Three Dog Night’s “Shambala” (Bank of America), Queen’s “You’re My Best Friend” (PetSmart) or Cole’s “This Will Be” (eHarmony) in a TV or online commercial, some agency creative director had both a target audience and business goals to 1) grab attention and 2) make an emotional connection. With me, that’s 1) check and 2) check. Now back to my playlist — and hero worship.

A Hard Call for a Softer Side to Advertising

Social sustainability can be a key differentiator and motivator in our sharing economy. In consumer markets, TOMS built its message upon redefining “Buy One-Get One” as “Buy One-Give One” – and 35 million children around the world (and counting) – and by giving its customers a mission.

Build an emotional connection to your brand.

Change the world, one pair of shoes at a time.

Every individual has an opportunity through education.

We are not data, we are human beings.

One primary take-away from &Then 2015, a DMA event, last week in Boston is that effective advertising today is most certainly about strategy, creativity and results – all over this year’s International ECHO Awards. But let’s add another key ingredient: Social sustainability can be a key differentiator and motivator in our sharing economy.

I’m not talking about some modicum of a social responsibility tie-in … “Buy our product and we’ll plant a tree.”

But rather that, in an economy filled with attention deficit, good advertising, effective advertising, must make us pause and consider. The table stakes for engagement happen when we trust and connect to emotions in ourselves.

In consumer markets, TOMS built its message upon redefining “Buy One-Get One” as “Buy One-Give One” – and 35 million children around the world (and counting) – and by giving its customers a mission. While TOMS has moved its social responsibility mission beyond shoes to eyewear, water and other projects, I choose TOMS precisely because of its giving back along with its very comfortable shoes.

Singer John Legend has his handlers, most certainly, but when you heard his call to action for education reform, justice reform and minority business leadership – therein lays substance and authenticity behind his own storytelling in music. He may not sing about those subjects, but his celebrity is leveraged strictly for those causes that motivate him to act, that have defined his life, in how he was raised and how he sees the world as it is and what it can be through positive change.

Even look at this year’s winning crop of ECHOs. Many campaigns used emotion to tell compelling stories — with breath-taking results. Skoda’s Guardians of Winter, Uniforms for the Dedicated’s Rag Bag, Huggies and Volkswagen’s Eyes on the Road are just a few examples of campaigns that took individuals on an emotional journey of one sort or another – and made you think twice. You literally spend a moment walking life in someone else’s shoes, and realize it could be your own.

Suffice to say, these motivators are hardly new to advertising, it’s just great to see them in employed in data-driven campaigns and breaking through cacophony. What is new is that, as brands seek to connect with target audiences, truly making the world a better place to be is more meaningful today than ever.