10 December 2019

A Market for Trust

The flood of information has created a drought of trust. Hundreds of media are constantly telling people thousands of suggestions, from subtle advertorials to downright hard-selling pitches. It’s only natural that people have developed a “thicker skin”. A simple self-promotion of, “We are number one!”, is just not going to cut it anymore. But does that mean people stop looking for news, tips, and information? Absolutely not! They do so even more enthusiastically today, supported with the combined forces of the internet and smartphones. It has never been easier for everyone to look for information on a variety of topics: whether it’s something practical, like how to care for your cat; something mainstream, like the coolest travel destinations now; or even something niche, like how to dress like people in the 1980’s.

However, these same people also desperately avoid advertising and other forms of overt marketing. According to research by Edelman, barely one-third of global consumers claim to trust “most of the brands they buy and use” and more than half claim they are able to detect “trustwashing,” which is when brands try to ride the current issues as a ploy to make people buy more products.

Marketing today has to understand this change and adapt. David Meerman Scott, a marketing expert, described the cure for this problem with true wit, “You can buy attention (advertising), You can bug people one at a time to get attention (sales). Or you can earn attention by creating something interesting and valuable and then publishing it online for free.” We interpret “attention” as “trust”.

Undeniably, the big names in media can still influence people, but the shifting trust is happening. People now can find influencers (youtubers, podcast speakers, etc.) who they trust more because those people have piqued their interest first with smart and engaging contents—for free!

If mass media is like a lawn mower, content marketing is more like a scalpel; it needs more precise strategies to narrow key messages to the right audience, determine the best approach to connect to those people, and consistently retain the followers’ trust with good content. Over time, these providers of content become the guru’s, go-to people, or thought leaders.

We see this phenomenon as something positive. Products must provide better value to be worthy of a good review in an internet content, while influencers must also consistently prove themselves in the internet’s open forum where anyone can speak up. This is a better market for trust. (Source: Forbes)