When it comes to building trust with the public and regulatory authorities, it’s fair to say that last year was not a good year for the big tech companies. As the largest companies settle into their structures, and society flexes and adjusts to these new behemoths, some might describe the issues as growing pains. The Cambridge Analytica scandal and ongoing problems in Europe convincing regulatory bodies they are serious about combating fake news have all impacted on that crucial area of a business’s key relationship; does the customer feel they can trust you? In this article we look at the trends in 2019 that help to build trust in a marketing world where it seems trust is increasingly in short supply.
‘Don’t believe everything you see’ is a well-known saying, but it’s on the tip of every customer’s lips right now. How better to combat any misgivings a potential customer might have when considering a purchase, than for them to see the faces, location and story behind a product or business. Exclusively online businesses can often struggle to establish their credibility and produce ‘provenance’. For example how can they trust you that the quaint hand-made country chic products are in fact made in the UK, and not mass produced by machines in the far east, especially when they don’t get to handle the product before purchase. Telling the stories of the manufacturing process, back-room sales support, or perhaps even a real employee from the business’ story is a great way to encapsulate your brand.
Almost all the obvious digital success stories of recent years feature user generated content. Facebook, You Tube, SnapChat, Instagram all revolve around users generating, sharing and commenting on content. Today’s generation seek the advice and counsel of their peers much more readily than previously. Businesses who involve their potential customers by generating interesting and engaging content benefit in two clear ways. Firstly, those customers who are enthused enough to engage and spend time on your products are generally going to keep coming back. More importantly, they will act as product evangelisers, spreading the positive word through their content, helping to establish and build your brand’s credibility on social media.
Whether it’s ‘You Tubers’ attracting millions of followers, or celebrities endorsing different products, this is an important trend to incorporate into your plan. A recent BBC article featuring the effect of celebrity endorsement (Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, the Kardashians) on the success of the House of CB, is just one example. Finding and leveraging that influence is not an easy process; take your time and think carefully about who are the REAL influencers in your business area. As ever, understanding your market and your customer is key so do your homework, and proceed carefully. Buying time or favour with an indiscriminate or injudicious influencer without market credibility might do your relationship with prospective customers more harm than good.
Pop-up stores and discrete events
If potential customers must first be able to trust businesses before they commit to spending their precious pounds, then growing and maintaining a relationship is key to continuing to build trust. Events such as pop-up stores and discrete marketing events can be a great way to give a tangible and public face to a business. It’s crucial to remember that it’s not necessarily about how many of your existing customers you actually meet at the event. Instead, ensure you capture your participation in an authentic manner, and (without irony) feature it heavily on your digital marketing channels. Just the mere fact that you are ‘out there’ meeting the public and engaging with all potential customers will build that crucial trust.
Grow with it
So perhaps like a fractious teenager, the digital giants will continue to grow and mature at pace, but they are beginning to comprehend that with great power comes great responsibility. Their growing pains are resulting in inevitable difficulties which threaten the established customer/business relationship. If businesses want to maximise their competitive edge in 2019, establishing that relationship using new and emerging trends such as those described should help.
 BBC website – 26 Nov 2018. House of CB’s Conna Walker: Meet the young British designer loved by Beyoncé.