The Center for Media Research just published an article called Trust is a Must. It tells us, as if we didn’t already know it, that we, as consumers place our greatest trust in recommendations from people we know (84%) and, although other media are growing in their ‘trustability’ levels, they all pale behind personal recommendations. (That’s why, of course, that lots of folks are faking consumer recommendations on all sorts of sites.) But let’s remember that, in B2B decision making, ‘trust’ is absolutely the most important part of a buy decision.

We believe that “know, like, trust” ought be the mantra of every b2b (and, for that matter, b2c) company. People need to know who you really are, what your competitive advantage might be and actually like doing business with you. But above ‘know’ and ‘like’, trust is always the most important.

Trust comes in many shapes and sizes. Prior experience is probably the major component. If you screwed a customer your trust level is zero and more business is unlikely. In the advertising business we always knew that you won accounts on the promise (of breakthrough creative) but lost accounts with sloppy account management or suspect accounting; issues of trust.

Trust can often come from ‘thought leadership’. This catch-all phrase encompasses a lot of things, but mostly ‘thought leadership’ provides some level of trust that some of that wisdom and experience will be applied to your business, too.

Trust also comes from under-promising and over-delivering. Beating expectations once strongly suggests that you have the ability to do it again. Many companies make the mistake of over-promising in the belief that this kind of pie-in-the-sky will give them a competitive edge.

Many companies, especially in the B2B world seek to bolster limited marketing budgets with puffery and (especially in the tech world) obfuscation and jargon. Nothing, absolutely nothing, beats a healthy dose of trust.

Jerry has been at the leading edge for his entire 40+ year career. He may be the only executive in the digital arena to have created a new brand of soda pop (Mello Yello for The Coca-Cola Company) and he was the first person to conceptualize (and execute) a coffee-by-mail business (Gevalia Kaffe for Kraft Foods), and he helped transform a nascent online entertainment company into a powerful digital marketing services company that became so attractive that Yahoo! purchased it (Yoyodyne). Jerry can be reached at jerry@grownupmarketing.com

Read all Jerry’s MediaBizBloggers commentaries at Rants & Raves from the Heart of Advertising.

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