Trust Me!

There are times when I’ve said this to someone and could actually see the doubt on their face. But why would telling someone they can trust you immediately invoke the opposite response? Because we’ve learned that only those who can’t be trusted have to ask for it. We know that trust is something you have or don’t have without being told, so any attempt to convince us works against our understanding of what trust is.

Trust is based on a number of factors, none the least of which is consistently meeting or exceeding expectations. For my clients, that means that the information I gather about their organization during the course of our relationship is used solely for the intended purpose; to build and execute marketing initiatives that grow their business. If instead, I were to pass that information on to someone else who used it to solicit other types of business from them, I would have broken their trust and would expect never to work with them again.

Case in point, a recent survey by marketing firm Placecast, conducted online by Harris Interactive, and reported on Mashable.com, shows that 81% of consumers are comfortable with grocery stores using past-purchase information tailor the coupon offers you receive, but only 33% were comfortable with Facebook using profile information for targeted ads (Facebook, Google Less Trusted than your grocery store [Study]). Online merchants like Amazon.com – although only a few years older than Facebook according to the story  – has earned the trust of their user base to provide them offers and search results based on past purchases, where Facebook users are still leery about privacy and other uses of their data.

This makes sense. I go to my local grocery store – or to Amazon for that matter – in order to buy something I want or need. I’m thrilled when they give me coupons for items I buy regularly and when they suggest other products I might like based on what I’ve bought in the past. In fact, I expect it. I trust this because it’s what I expect from them. Expect + Deliver = Trust

For me, I spend time on Facebook to connect with family and friends, so I appreciate it when I see an ‘ad’ that recommends people I might want to connect with based on my location and current connections. I trust these because they meet my expectations based on my purpose for being on Facebook, and they validate how Facebook uses my profile information.

On the other hand, I don’t go to Facebook to shop. So I don’t expect (or want) to see ads for diapers just because I have several Facebook friends who are mommies and they ‘Like’ Huggies’ Facebook page. You see the difference. I understand that Facebook’s ad revenue is what keeps them in business. But as the study reveals, they still haven’t earned the trust of a majority of their users when it comes to using their personal information in ways they didn’t expect (or want). Maybe an ‘ad-free option’ would be appealing for Facebook users who base their trust on expectations met.

What’s Next? Trust as a key to small business success means reviewing your marketing materials from the perspective of your audience. Review your marketing and/or advertising materials including email, social media posts and website content. Don’t overlook the simple things like, 1) does the title of your website landing page match the link in your email or Facebook? 2) does all forms function correctly, 3) do all forms provide a ‘successful confirmation’ message, etc. Does the overall experience meet or exceed expectations?

fake content as a marketing strategy

What does a day of spoofs, pranks and general tomfoolery have to do with marketing for small business? Quite a lot actually, no joke.

     

Most of my favorite spoofs this year were videos of fake Google product launches like Google Tap (Morse code makes a comeback) and Gmail motion (love the lick a stamp motion to send) above. It’s understandable that Google would get into the game. They’re giant. They have hundreds of creative people on staff, and they have the means to produce realistic videos to sell their spoof.

On the other end of the spectrum is eyeglass purveyor Warby Parker, turned Warby Barker for the day, a relatively small business in comparison. Yet their website and video about a new line of eyewear for dogs was brilliant in its concept and execution. So much so that this niche brand made several national Top 10 April Fools’ lists. As a result, this relatively obscure company has found widespread exposure to a social media savvy and brand conscious audience. Not a bad marketing strategy for a small business.

Then there’s The Washington Post blog post titled, ‘Romney Drops Out of Race, Endorses Santorum’. Google’s sophisticated search engine failed to notice it was a spoof, and for a short time, the story led the top-breaking news headlines on Google News. Shortly after, The Washington Post took down the page and quickly explained it as a prank gone wrong. Still, both the original spoof and the steps taken to correct it, brought widespread exposure for the news source that typical Sunday morning headlines would not have achieved.

Now, I don’t think April Fools’ content was the highest priority in the content strategies for any of these businesses. Still, these clever bits of ‘fake content’ are a fun way for me to illustrate the importance of a content strategy for small business.

A content strategy is as important to marketing for small business as anything else you do. Content is how your audience gets to know you, what you do, what others think about you, and most importantly, why they want to work with you rather than your competitors. Content comes in all shapes and sizes including emails, website content and images, advertisements, even your business cards. But, the content you put on your social media sites (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.) is what broadens your reach like nothing else can.

So, what lessons can we learn from the best of this year’s April Fools’ spoofs as far as marketing for small business is concerned?

  1. content is king – Your reputation is built on trust, and as a rule, speaking the truth is at the heart of that trust. Still, in the right context, a little ‘fake’ content goes much further than no content at all.
  2. humanize your brand – This marketing catchphrase, made popular primarily by Facebook Timeline for brand pages, basically means connecting with each customer on a human level. How better to show your small business is human, than through humor.

What’s Next? If content still isn’t a part of your marketing strategy, make that a priority TODAY. Be sure that your human side shows through in all your day-to-day business operations.