As we begin to slide out of the longest economic slump we’ve experienced in more than 60 years, regaining our most important assets — the trust and confidence we had in our financial markets, our government, our businesses and ourselves — will not be easy. Along with the billions of dollars that have been lost, and the millions of jobs that have been disappeared, so too has gone the faith and belief we held so dear in our leaders, in our corporations and in each other. Far too many of those people and institutions that we believed in overpromised and underperformed. Results from the 2009 Edelman Trust Barometer found that Trust in US Businesses fell to 38% from 58% last year, the lowest in the ten-year history of the Barometer.
Among the key findings:
– Nearly two-thirds of informed publics (62%) trust corporations less than they did a year ago
– Only 38% said they trust business to do what is right — a 20% plunge since last year — and only 17% said they trust information from a company’s CEO
– Seventy-seven percent (77%) said they refused to buy products or services from a company they distrusted — the first time the survey explored people’s direct actions toward trusted and distrusted companies. Seventy-two percent (72%) criticized a distrusted company to a friend or colleague.
The world as we knew it is gone forever. It’s time to rebuild and revamp. To make the most of this opportunity it’s going to take a lot of hard work, responsible, strategic planning, honest, effective communications and carefully thought-out actions that safeguard the future while acknowledging the past.
Recognize that today’s consumer has changed. She is seeking out the very best for herself and her family with an informed mind, a critical eye and a cautiously guarded wallet. Keeping a close watch on changing consumer attitudes and understanding the likes and dislikes of your customers will enable you to improve your marketing strategies, adjust your marketing messages and strengthen your business planning for the months ahead.
o Realize that it’s as much about who is behind the product/service/brand as the product/service/brand itself.
o Embrace the need for speed. Today’s customer, consumer or donor wants it now, with a click of a mouse or push of a button. Convenience is key and should you choose to ignore it, the customer, consumer or donor will surely find another product, service appointment, answer, solution or beneficiary elsewhere.
o Communicate with the customer, consumer or donor; provide timely, relevant and purposeful information.
o Personalize and customize your communication. Today, a standard “Dear Customer/Donor” letter is just as insulting as yesterday’s “Dear John” letter. It’s a kiss-off; destined to wind up in a junk pile, junk folder or junk list. Be memorable; reinforce what your customer or donor means to you and what you can do for your customer or donor in return.
o Review your corporate responsibility program. If you don’t have one, now’s the time to put one in place.
o Provide the customer, consumer or donor opportunities to get to know you. Simply finding your website is not enough. You must be proactive in the digital and social media universe.
Authors Note: This article is one in a series of the LGK Marketing Communications Collective Vision Series of Marketing Insight Briefs.
Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2010, Nancy L. Hohns and LGK Marketing Communications Collective, Inc.