Anna Pollock of Desticorp recently highlighted the changes in the way consumers are making choices.
She quoted statistics from FutureLab that reveal the soaring mistrust of brands and advertising, and pointing to peer reviews as being the most trusted influence in the decision to buy:
“Peer reviews are preferred over expert reviews by a 6 to 1 margin,” she told us.
She also pointed to the change in what makes a successful brand. No longer are we looking to brands that express an identity or image. It seems we’re now looking for those that appeal to our aspirations: “how does this brand make the world a better place?” (Think IBM’s ‘You can innovate to make a difference’ and BP’s ‘green’ logo.)
This is reflected in the world of online marketing, where a business is more likely to succeed if it:
- convinces us of its credibility through customer reviews, testimonials or stories, and
- regularly publishes useful content that addresses our problems and aspirations (a flashy website dedicated purely to image is less likely to convert).
As consumers, we no longer rely on a one-way flow of information via static websites, ads, brochures etc. We look for peer reviews and someone who understands our problems or desires, and who is willing to help us by providing information and resources.
A conversation is taking place.
Underneath the conversation lies a series of supportive ‘resources’ – or products and services that bring the business its revenue. Trust in the business leads to acquisition of the customer – or sales.
This set me thinking about what this all means for PR, and publicity in particular.
Publicity has always been a way to create a story and inspire a conversation around a product or service, and this is why it’s becoming an increasingly important part of the marketing mix. It’s the closest form of marketing to word-of-mouth, which is the most trusted.
My advice is to give your audience what they’re looking for – a conversation around the relevant issues, with engaging stories from satisfied customers.
Here are my five ways to build trust through publicity:
- Steer clear of promotional messages. The journey is from conversation to conversion. Trying to sell during the conversation is similar to interruption advertising, and is less likely to succeed.
- Start a conversation by putting out interesting, newsworthy, issues-based messages.
- Find satisfied customers who are willing to be profiled or tell their aspirational and inspirational story.
- Put more stories and articles on your site and make them freely available to the media and your prospects.
- Be genuine and responsive in your intention to offer free advice and support through all your media channels (including your own site) – readers and listeners are becoming very good at sniffing out a fake, and will expect a conversation, not a pitch.