Trust Issues - Dealing with a Modern Public

By: Joseph Clinkard

Marketing is about trust. It always has been. From telemarketers requesting a few minutes to conduct a survey, to field marketers, offering free samples of a new soft drink, to charity-workers in the street, collecting donations. It all comes down to how much trust the general public is willing to invest in the person they are communicating with. This, according to the Q2 2012 Consumer Privacy Index, is not a huge amount, by any stretch. By their reckoning, 91% of people frequently worry about privacy, and over 53% do not trust firms to protect their personal data. Finally, 88% of adults interviewed said that they do not do business with companies which they have doubts about.

But why the mistrust? Since shortly before the dawn of the new millennium, people have been becoming increasingly paranoid about personal fraud, particularly so-called 'identity theft'. While this is not a threat unique to the 21st Century, the advent of the internet has certainly made it a more accessible one. Similarly, as more and more of our business is conducted via-computer, there develops a much more lucrative market for hackers and viruses designed to steal information. From these assumptions, it is possible to deduce that the technology market, and the public which uses it, have (in some ways) left behind industries still trying to adapt to a changing market.

The situation is not unredeemable to any extent. It simply requires originality on the part of the marketing industry. Here are some examples of ways in which one might improve public faith in one's campaign:

Personalisation of Campaign:
A friendly face can change everything. Online marketing is easily dismissed by people browsing, or can even be automatically filtered-out by built in programs in web-browsers. In fact, according to a study reported by Nielsen, only 47% of people trust online marketing. Contrary to this, tangible conversation between people, either by-phone or in the street, allows for a far more personal connection, and greater faith, as it humanises the campaign.

Re-assurance of Safety:
It may sound basic, but a surprising number of marketing efforts fail to mention the safety measures that they put in-place to protect private data. People are far more likely to invest-in something which they understand, so talking prospective customers through whatever process their data will undergo is a good idea.

Incentive and Marketing Appeal:
An appealing, original marketing campaign is likely to impress consumers, as well as to support ideas that the product, brand or firm that it represents is legitimate and well-organised. Traditional marketing techniques are still very effective, but delivering them to impress actually helps to improve credibility in the eyes of the public.

Of course, there are endless ways to impress-upon a target-market the credibility, reliability and overall safety of a campaign. In the end, it boils-down to convincing an individual that their information is both necessary, and safe, and the extent to which this convincing must reach varies by-case.

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