Like everyone else in the world, when marketers have questions they turn to Google.  The term “marketing” gets over 30 million searches a month.

  • Number of monthly searches for “how to market” on Google: 201,000
  • Number of monthly searches for “how to spam” on Google: 49,500
  • Number of monthly searches for “how to build trust” on Google: 3,600

Every business person wants to know to market, promote, sell, advertise, pitch, convince, cajole and spam prospective customers.  These tactics all seem like marketing. Marketing is one area of business where deception is not only accepted it is almost expected.  You don’t see this in accounting, HR, finance or law.  Ok, maybe law.  In every other aspect of business it is generally understood that being ethical is not only good for getting a good night’s sleep, it is also profitable in the the long run.

Being honest isn’t always thought of as being profitable in marketing. Back in the day, if you were selling snake oil from town to town, honesty probably didn’t work out so well. Door-to-door salesmen weren’t exactly known for their integrity.  Honesty didn’t pay because people weren’t connected enough to get the message that there is a sleaze ball in town or down the street. Even with television and print ads, people didn’t pick up their phone and call 20 people who had tried the product so deception trumped reputation.

The world is connected now.  Credibility and reputation is being is researched and communicated online through connected social circles. Product reviews on blogs, review sites and social networking sites are written with breath-taking frequency. People connect easily and instantly.  Seeking advice through an instant message, text or tweet  is much more practical than it has ever been.

There are two questions that marketers have always asked:

  • How do I get my message in front of people who might buy my stuff?
  • How do I convince (or lie to) people so that they buy my stuff?

Those questions aren’t enough now.  The question that needs to be asked first is: How do I build trust? More trust means less convincing.  More trust means more word of mouth and less need for interruptive advertising. More trust means more money.


  1. As much as I agree, as an advocate for social media, marketers still need to change their mindset. The goal will always be traffic and revenue. Building trust takes time, effort, operational changes, new job descriptions etc. We need to give marketers an adjunct solution to their current practices that allows them to put more marketing control in the hands of their customers while allowing them to meet their goals.

    Hessie Jones
    01/11/10 at 9:44 am
  2. I completely agree. In the end, the truth will out, and corporations will only look the worse for not having been straightforward with their customers. It’s high time that transparency and trust-building became the name of the game.

    Will Barrett
    02/17/10 at 9:51 am

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