Is the Trust Offensive… Offensive?

I cleaned up some files this week and found the notes on a post I was working on back in October. (Need to drive a better desk). The post was based on an article in Business Week magazine titled The Great Trust Offensive.     The article starts with the comment “Companies …are revamping their marketing efforts to win back that most valuable of corporate assets [trust].”

Is it, really, that simple? Change your marketing message and you can regain trust? The article goes on to describe how companies are attempting to regain trust by changing their messaging and by attempting to become more transparent.

Can you have trust without trustworthy intent? That is can I just change my messaging to emphasize trust in order to sell more without actually being more trustworthy? I don’t believe so. I believe trust, is earned and real trust is earned over time. has 24 definitions of trust. They all boil down to the reliance upon another to deliver upon a promise.

The first time we trust it really is based on an act of faith. We don’t have the experience to back up our decision to trust. Most business relationships start on this leap of faith. We do our due diligence, ask questions, and check references and so on. But until the product or service is delivered, it is still just a promise.

As an example, I have been with my Financial Advisory firm now for several years. The original Advisor took the time to discover my needs, fears, goals and dreams. This took place over the course of, I think, four meetings. So, I invested a piece. As time progressed and our investments performed, we invested more. Then John retired!

We were assigned one of the partners (who looked very young). We gave him the benefit of the doubt (we let him ride on the trust that John had built) for a few months. He delivered on his promises so we continued to invest.

It is no longer benefit of the doubt or faith that keeps us with Paul. He has earned our trust and we continue to invest to our mutual benefit.

So for companies wanting to go on a trust offensive that is not offensive let me offer some thoughts:

1.    Listen – This is different than hearing. It is intentional with the goal of understanding.
2.    Deliver on your promises big and small. I like the idea of under promise and over deliver.
3.    Make trust more than just a message it has to be your intention.
4.    Trust others, it is contagious

Take good care,

One Comment:

  1. Hi John,

    You are so right when you say trust must be earned. There are a variety of ways to earn it, including earning through good works with someone else. In other words, I may trust someone because they have earned the trust and respect of someone else. So a recommendation from a friend is a way of earning trust also.

    But whenever I think of the concept of “marketing trust” I flash back to the old days of “Honest Bob’s Used Cars” where the salesman in the plaid suit wanted me to trust him because the word “honest” was right there in his name!

    In this case being honest is like being a leader. If someone has to tell you that they are, then they aren’t.

    Keep up the good work…..


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