In today's times where many industries are falling apart and consumers are rapidly changing their media consumption patterns, advertisers must continuously focus on building and maintaining trust. Trust needs to be developed with many constituencies - customers, employees, partners, media, etc. - but it was interesting to hear this stat: It takes 12-14 weeks to establish effective empathy on a personal level!
Three companies at Advertising Week's Trust Forum shared how they are building trusted brands. While they are all in different business, they do share a common approach of being very transparent and using social media technology to monitor & respond to consumers.
Blake Mycoskie, Chief Shoe Giver, Tom's Shoes:
- As a company built around social responsibility, it's important for us to be authentic at all times. I spend 4-5 months a year travelling to lesser developed countries and giving out shoes. We've inspired others to start a business with a similar one-for-one model. (RG - Tom's Shoes donates a pair of shoes to a needy child for every purchase).
- On April 16 we did a campaign "go to work or school without shoes". The campaign resulted in the highest traffic day on the web and the largest day for sales, so you can be authentic and profitable (RG - Tom's Shoes has been in business for three years and hopes to break profit this year).
- We actively use social media channels to listen and talk to our consumers. Facebook is a #1 referrer to our website after search.
- AT&T commercial not only helped us with broader awareness, it was great morale building for the company employees and we'd be open to similar partnerships with other companies. These partnerships can help us with our core mission and help other companies reach customers in authentic way.
Meredith Verdone, Bank of America
- Our key principles of building trust focus on: 1. Action, not words 2. Transparency 3. Fairness 4. Demonstrating, not declaring
- When the financial crisis started happening, we listened to our customers and reacted quickly. We changed the credit terms, some products first and then incorporated into our communications. For example, over 2000 home loans were adjusted for 119,000 customers.
- It's important to say the story at the macro level, but always bring it to the individual, personal level.
- When you put the facts out there, you CAN change perceptions. Through the ad campaign that we run, we noticed the stabilization of trust ( the "new" growth) and increase in some products' sales.
- We rely on measurement heavily. Results from an online panel of 3000 customers come bi-weekly.
- There is still work to do - to revamp credit card promo communications to be clear, fair and easily understandable by consumers.
Steve Pacheco, Federal Express
- When we were laying off employees, we reevaluated all of marketing programs and decided to pull out of the Super Bowl for the first time in 12 years. We did not want to break the trust with our employees.
- Transparency is one of our key traits (we were the first to track packages and provide customers visibility). We monitor perceptions real-time using technology tools.
My favorite quote from this session is: "To a corporation, there are lots of brand positions. To a consumer, there are only two."
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