- Wed, April 30 2008
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
My dad visited this weekend. He’s a psychoanalyst and quite brilliant, so I spent time asking him about some of the issues I’m exploring with Mark Rovner under the topic, “the seven things everyone wants.” My dad had some particularly fascinating comments about trust.
I want to share those today because there is a huge demand for trust in our sector, yet a serious supply problem. Holly at NTEN blogged on it just yesterday. She cited a some important data:
Want to guess what the number one source of trusted information is for most Americans? People like them—their friends, colleagues and peers.
So we trust people like us. That is definitely true. But how does that work? What is trust, really, and how does it come about? That’s what I asked my dad, since he’s spent a lifetime understanding people’s minds.
He says trust is a triangle. Person A trusts Person B when Person B authentically represents or speaks to something that matters to us. Think of that thing as “C” - the third point that makes a triangle. For example, a person might trust a politician that stands for their vision of America. A customer of Amazon will trust another customer at Amazon who credibly reviews a book they are considering buying. A person might trust a brand if it consistently stands for quality. A person will trust their spouse if they stand for a faithful marriage. It’s not so much the person on the other side of the relationship as the stakes we share, the point that forms a triangle.
Given the power of word-of-mouth marketing, if we’re trying to promote a cause (the “C” of our triangle), we need to ensure that our target audience (“A”) sees a triangle—that they actually care what we stand for—and that the other person in their triangle is not necessarily us but someone very close to them. That creates a strong triangle of trust. We don’t get a triangle if they don’t care what we do or don’t know the person speaking.
What does this mean to us? That our triangle requires new points. It’s time to change our message - so we are creating a point of trust that matters to people - and the messenger speaking to that point. We won’t have trust without that kind of shape.