Trust in a Creative’s mind?

November 30, 2009

To round up the few postings over the last months on trust in advertising, I spoke to Steven Capp, Chief Creative Officer at the ad agency Unit 7, about his opinions on this “trusty” subject.

Steven Capp is an award-winning writer who has 20 years of experience building brands and finding innovative ways to connect with consumers. Not surprisingly, he had plenty to say about trust:

Raquel: What is the role of trust in advertising? (in your opinion as a creative)

Steve: Trust is the reason consumers engage with a brand. Whether it’s a trust for a lower price, a better quality or that the product was produced in an environmentally-friendly way, trust takes a brand from transaction to relationship.

Raquel: Has this role changed over time?

Steve: Trust has always been a reason to engage, but with trust levels at all-time lows, companies need to be aggressive rather than passive in the building and maintaining of trust. With the advent of the web, trust has also become more fragile and vulnerable to corporate missteps. On the other hand, the web also presents unprecedented opportunity to build and maintain trust.

Raquel: Why should brands/companies focus on trust? Why would they not?

Steve: When consumers trust a brand, it shows that brand is listening to the consumer’s needs. That helps build a relationship with consumers. It creates a positive experience that can spread like wild fire in the online space. Good for business. On the other hand, if companies don’t focusing on building/maintaining trust, that could create negative perceptions which could also find it’s way on the web and create a PR nightmare.

Companies may not see a need for building trust relationships because of ignorance as to how consumers are engaging. They may underestimate the role trust plays, or they may equate marketing dollars spent with a positive brand image.

Raquel: Is there a particular ad campaign out there now, or in the past, that illustrates your view of the impact of trust in advertising? How so?

Steve: Hyundai is a good example of building/restoring trust in a brand. With people losing their jobs, Hyundai came out with a campaign that offered to take the car back if people lost their job. It showed that Hyundai understood what was being discussed around kitchen tables across America. It made people feel good about the brand and trust that Hyundai has their best interest in mind. I know a finance Manager who worked for Hyundai at the time and he said the cars were flying out of the showroom.

Lee Iacoca also did it many years ago when Chrysler was on the verge of going bankrupt.  He claimed they were now building the best built cars in America and challenged the American people to drive everything else first. It was a very powerful message that restored trust in the Chrysler brand.

Thanks to Steven for taking the time to answer these few questions and for his great insight. This sure does make a point about the role of trust in advertising and how it should not be ignored, specially not now, not online.

‘Till next time. Tchau!


Trust by Experience

November 14, 2009

As more consumers rely on recommendations and online reviews to decide what to buy, marketers need to focus on delivering an experience just as much as on building an image.

In a new report published by FEED, 65% of U.S. consumers said “a digital experience has changed their perception about a brand (either positively or negatively) and 97% of that group report(ed) that the same experience ultimately influenced whether or not they went on to pGood online experienceurchase a product from that brand.”

Experience matters and only companies who deliver a good one will gain loyalty.

Online, companies have a direct line to build trust with buyers through better customer experiences. And because of the immediacy of the channel, this experience has to be intuitive. People need to find what they want where they expect it to be, and fast. It should predict questions and provide answers, or a way to chat for more. Recommendations need to be relevant, but not so dead-on that it becomes creepy. It should be easy to share, to tweet and to print. They want to be in the know, gain knowledge, get exclusive access and privileges, but it can’t be too cumbersome. Most of all, they want to be entertained. Make it fun. Boring does not last long in the small screen.

Whether a company was born online or is slowly transitioning in, it should create a digital experience that supports its brand promise. Living up to that promise when a visitor is actually engaging with the brand is now the ultimate trust test. Don’t deliver, and customers will seek somewhere else.

Just think about how many times you went on a “second date” with a company if the first one did not go so well. Not likely.

‘Till next time. Tchau!

Rate it!

November 11, 2009

No other company is more responsible for making online customer reviews ubiquitous than

Amazon's Wolves T-shirtOver 15 years ago, they took the risk and actually invited customer feedback instead of filing it under annoying customer replies. And guess what? It paid out to trust customers to help each other to shop easier, better and… more often.

Read about the online shopping revolution it started…

…and can you really believe a T-shirt emblazoned with three wolves could ever be such a hit? ‘Til today? No joke…

‘Till next time. Tchau!

Trust for Real?

November 3, 2009

On Air Another way to start intriguing conversations online is with original content. So original it is actually live.

This week’s article in AdWeek, Marketers Get Real, reports that several brands – including Burger King, Adidas and Diet Coke – are streaming live content on their digital platforms as a means of making them appear more real and “relatable.”

“The best way to deliver truth is real time,” said Alex Bogusky, an industry opinion leader featured in the article.

“If brands want to … be seen as ‘friends,’ then they also need to have flaws like real people have,” said another.

Personally, I am not so sure we really hold brands to the same standards as our real friends. In most cases, actually, I expect even more from them than from real people. But again, this is part of the evolution of this type of trust marketing where customers ultimately have the say on what they want or expect from a brand. And brands will either live or die by it.

Experimentation with original content and mediums to deliver it, therefore, is not likely to slow down, experts predict. And the truth is, companies that fear transparency will probably have a harder time surviving.

‘Till next time. Tchau!

Joining in? Everyone?

November 2, 2009

Silence is GoldenAs I mentioned it before, saying nothing actually is saying something. So this particular point of view on how brands can misfire by trying too hard to be our “digital neighbors” should also be considered. Palmer elaborates, “Maybe some brands shouldn’t be conversational. Maybe most shouldn’t.”

  • Read When Silence Can Be Golden – Brands feel pressured to join the ‘conversation,’ but should they always participate? By Benjamin Palmer for AdWeek

Once again, this goes back to the promise a business makes and the expectations for trust that it has set with customers.  If it does not make sense for a business to engage in conversation because of the inherit nature of its product or service, they probably shouldn’t push social networking into their marketing mix. For example, I can’t image many people I know who would actually care to add a bar soap as a Facebook friend or follow it on Twitter. A company should not “join in” because everybody else is. Rather, it should make sure that doing so is consistent with what the brand stands for or how it is expected to behave.

Certain major brands, however – like Dove – may have a different reason to start a conversation with customers. Not about the product attributes of its soap, but because the brand stands for something different in the beauty category that is worth talking about.

So, in the end, it’s still about finding a relevant message and medium to engage customers in conversations. If a brand does not have one that fits, just don’t force it.

‘Till next time. Tchau!


November 1, 2009

Conversation StrategyThere’s a new chief in town. As brands are trying to raise trust levels among customers, marketers evolve their communication strategy into conversation strategy. Feeling the need to engage into the conversations easily enabled by digital technology, companies need to be prepared with a plan to message and respond appropriately. Consequently, this marketing responsibility is evolving into the role of Chief Conversation Officers (CCOs).

If CMOs manage marketing strategies, CCOs will focus on building conversation strategies. But the objectives of a conversation strategy are more than to merely start one. As customers are increasingly cluttered by the number of conversations they are already carrying, brands need to be “intriguing” to get attention and sustain traction to impact ROI.

A website is a brand talking to itself, unless customers are engaged in conversing back. However, the digital medium is highly fragmented and customers relate relevancy with highly personalized communications and customized offerings, so sustaining individual interest and getting customers to care to engage is the challenge.

And how can CCOs do that? One way is to really know your customer. We’ve been exploring motivations based on basic human needs and the same principle applies here. Understanding what motivates the audience to trust a brand is the key to construct a meaningful message they will care to converse with. It’s about knowing enough about them to talk about the same interests, instill respect, and create habitual touchpoints that drive long-term loyalty.

Besides relevant content, the medium also impacts the message. In the AdAge article How to Develop the Right Communications Strategy for a Conversation Economy, by Marsha Lindsay, experts at the World Advertising Research Center recommend a multimedia platform, starting with mainstream media through open and closed networks (such as blogs and social networking sites).  But again, the combination of message and medium needs to reflect the target’s interests and online habits as a mean to accommodate the dialog and invite customer-generated content.

What it is seems to me is that, specially now with the marketing of conversations, brands are trying to blur the lines in traditional business to customer communications more and more. How welcomed is this infiltration is still to be seen. But, in principle, as long as brands (and CCOs) focus on honoring the trust customers place on them by delivering on their promise responsibly, they may be all right.

‘Till next time. Tchau!

Deliverying Trust

October 31, 2009

When times are bad, trust is the fall back. Package shipping is probably the service industry that relies the most on trust. Shipping is the literal delivery of this promise. And it depends on it.

If we did not trust that our package would arrive at the right location on time, then we would send it with someone else. And sometimes we even pay more for this guarantee. But in these tough economic times, when people are looking for any way to save money or not spend it all, the industry has felt the hit. So FedEx is asking customers not to compromise. Even if things are starting to look up.

FedEx AdFedEx recently launched an international online and offline campaign focusing on “its reliability and expertise in helping consumers navigate a fast-changing economic landscape.”

“The economy is up. Your delivery costs don’t have to follow,” one ad reads, and adding, in smaller script, that FedEx International Economy allows users to “save money without compromising on quality and reliability.”

The question that remains is will customer’s trust deliver? Another campaign to watch…

‘Till next time. Tchau!