5 Keys to Building Trust and Avoiding Blunders

By Jenn Alessi


It has been said that a victory has a thousand fathers, but a loss is an orphan. In our field, the orphans get magnified—sometimes on a massive scale. No matter your opinion of Starbucks, criticism of its recent “Race Together” campaign was front-page news across the world for several days. The company took a hit in the public eye and needed to shift into crisis communications mode to correct the perception of a marketing endeavor that was well-meaning at its origins.

Perhaps perception is a fitting place to start when it comes to the mistakes marketers can learn from and practices to undertake in order to lessen their likelihood. After all, shaping perception is why marketing exists. The five focus areas below are healthy ways to embolden your strategy with a customer-first emphasis and little room for blunders.

1. Keep data current and continuously expand the business intelligence you can create from examining it. Yes, data isn’t sexy. To many, it can be downright boring. However, data is dispassionate. It cuts through any human tendencies that may misguide an initiative and positions marketers to continuously sharpen their focus with target segments. If a customer or prospect doesn’t feel understood, they’re more likely migrate to another resource. Convey your insights by regularly interpreting (and responding to) what data is telling you about your audience.

2. Invest in SEO. Google now processes 40,000 search queries every second. That means there are 3.5 billion searches per day. Translation: The days of going to the library or newsstand to acquire information are increasingly a thing of the past. Google, and other search engines, are the library and the newsstand. It’s the catch-all source to lead inquisitive people to information of interest. Be sure your content is properly baited with keywords so it indexes optimally. Having your content discovered legitimizes your position as an authority on the subject matter in question.

3. Increase your use of video as a storytelling tool. Attention spans are shorter. Consumers are busy. Long-form content, while still valid in some circles, isn’t the same solution it once was. Video, packaged correctly, draws one in without depleting their time. Its room for creativity positions marketers to embed messages more vividly. It gives editorial a visual life, one that is effective at driving engagement.

4. Harness the power of your writers via your blog. Keep them on message and build equity in their platform identities. Thought leadership is very important in select industries. A blog is a terrific way to demonstrate the individual and organizational competencies that consumers seek to place their trust in. It’s cost-effective as well as an internal communications architecture that can be refined on a recurring basis for optimal external impact.

5. Treat each social media channel as its own entity—with a conversational style that reflects the persona you’ve created for it. Be in the mix, comment and share, but don’t be the conversation participant who drowns out all others. If social media were a cocktail party, you don’t want to be a wallflower nor do you want to be standing on a tabletop. Work the room, make connections, build relationships, and establish an unmistakeable identity. Again, perception—above all else—carries the day.