Designing Trust through Marketing Systems.  

I feel most marketing isn’t driven by the right intentions. Marketing these days is hardly involved with the concept of trust. Trust however is at the core of the relationship organizations and brands build with customers. Trust should be at the core of marketing.

People buy a product or use a service from an organization firstly because they genuinely believe the product will help them in one way or another to achieve a goal. This trust makes them a (paying) customer. Without trust, there’s not a chance that people will hand over their money.

Trust is mostly build through experiences with the organization: the things their latest blog posts state, a talk with a representative over the phone, the newsletter announcing the store promotions, an in-store experience, etc. All these touch points help to construct trust.

Over the last decade, we saw a huge rise in the amount of touch points. Just think about all the social media and messaging apps that brands and organizations started to use for many reasons. The number of touchpoints is increasing and will continue to rise in the future.

Wearables and other ‘internet-of-thing’-products will continue to shape a maze of connected touch points. Some of those will connect man with machine. Other solutions will connect machines to machines . But this impacts the human experience massively. And this is exactly what happens in the space of automation.

The human-machine interface disappears. Machines do the interpretation work and allows for the human to be at ease or to focus on other things. One could even state “the less UX, the better the CX” – thereby meaning that when the user experience (human-machine interaction) is downscaled to a minimum because of automation (machine-to-machine), the experience of the human being as such is smoother, easier and hence better.

When looking at the above, one needs to see that marketing should alter its motivation and how it approaches its domain. The motivation is to build trust.

The approach is to build trust through customer experiences in an interconnected system of touch points. This equally means that marketing is about system thinking, interaction/persuasion/service design, behavioural design and business model innovation.

Touch points are specifically designed to have a function within a larger system. It requires a holistic and strategic view upon the customer journey and touch point interactions. Marketing is about people’s behavior. Mostly you want them to buy something. But today people only buy from trusted sources. How to become a trusted brand or organization?

Marketing is customer experience and customer experience builds trust

Marketing’s motivation is to build trust with people so to spark a relationship that might end up in a recurring and paying loyal customer.

Trust isn’t built overnight. The number one marketing tool has always been advertising. The problem with advertising is that ads aren’t trusted by default these days. Ad-blocking is the new normal. But if I look at the postal boxes in my street, asking not to get any ads has always been the default. (pas de pub sticker). The same counts for so-called “marketing campaigns”. Marketing shouldn’t be about campaigning. Marketing should be about behavioural design and especially for a system of interactions that build trust.

Now, you might think that going inbound and content marketing is the right way to generate trust. That’s OK but there are plenty of pitfalls to this approach tough. Be aware that you truly understand and take that new approach, not an old one on new digital channels.

Regardless of the fact that a product or service is aimed at a consumer or a business (B2B, B2C), the goal is to design a system that resonates and generates trust with humans.

Designing a marketing system for trust is the new marketing plan. The new marketing plan designs and engineers a behavioural system of interaction for persuasion to trust the brand or organization.

Be aware that the layer on top of the marketing system is the core value / core message / core story of the organization or brand. “Stick to the brand promise. “ But make sure that brand promise is purpose-driven. Having a purpose, standing for something is very important to build trust.

Speaks for itself that consequently the goal of the holistic marketing system is to grow the business by growing new customers, keeping happy and loyal customers.

The first step in this “marketing plan 2.0” is to visualize all these (and future) touch points, their role and interactions. Next up of course is to map those with customer behaviour. Those are analyzed and reveal very interesting insights in both customers and internal processes. Furthermore, it allows to set new goals and KPI’s for each touch point. Those goals need to be realized through marketing and communication actions.

Conceiving those marketing and communication actions is a cool and creative exercise of how we can improve Trust through experiences. And that’s of course where the art and science of service design jumps in. Service design is all about the question “how can we serve our customer?” …

There’s no better question to ask when it comes down to building trust. You build trust when you help people out, when you are supportive.

For every touch point matters: the more useful for a (potential) customer, the higher the appreciation, the higher the trust, the higher the chance this human believes it worthy to give you money in exchange for your product or service.

Designing Customer Trust – mind the inside as well.

It’s not possible or very hard to build trust in the outside world (customer) if there’s no trust internally (employee engagement). After all, it is through the actions of the employees that you build trust externally.

Your brand or organization is the sum of customer’s complete experiences with the organization across all touch points. Your brand isn’t your company. It isn’t your marketing message. It isn’t even your product. It is an experience — a holistic experience a customer has with your product, your content and your employees. It is the reason to choose you over your competitor.

Some businesses have recognized this seismic shift and managing consumer experiences became not only a challenge, but a priority. But as they started to implement strategies, solutions and tools across the organization, one critical gap became widely clear.

No matter how much you try to serve your customers, if the organization is internally siloed in mentality, processes and technology, no amount of delight will ever deliver a truly holistic experience that builds customer trust.

Employee experience is the internal precondition for a solid external customer experience. Stated differently: you need engaged employees who are proud and trust in the organization that they work for before you can successfully provide customer experiences.

Building trust is about building relationship capital through smart experience management. And the only way to achieve that is for all parts of the organization to work together, to become a connected company.

How does one design engaged employees that can help building a trusted organization through internal marketing systems? In other words, what is a great environment for the next-gen employees?

A company needs to have a purpose. It needs to stand for something. Something good. That’s the role of leadership. Leaders should be able to envision the company’s purpose and communicate that through good storytelling. How else are you going to motivate the people who are actually doing the work?

When it comes down to leadership, employees trusting the leaders is absolutely key. If a leader behaves in the internal marketing system like a bastard, trust is going down. And talented people might look to work elsewhere.

Actually these things heavily define the overall company culture. In case there’s no leader able to tell a vision and a roadmap, people are not going to get the purpose. They will just show up every day, do their tasks without any further. No passion, no drive. And then the organization or brand wonders why it is so hard to keep the sales funnel fueled or whines when the competitor does something cool, or why they don’t innovate…

Talking about innovation! You often here that companies need to “act like a startup” in order to innovate? I agree, but what does it mean – to act like a startup? If you look at some startup theories, it’s really important to start from and with the people in order to form a team. Select those people correctly, make sure they understand what they are supposed to do and why, have a clear communication channel (select a technology for collaboration) and allow them to grow through Learning & Development budgets and “pivot” their business together. When it comes down to “pivoting”, it means you need to be able to communicate visions and roadmaps and willing to discuss those with others.

Visions and roadmaps are the marketing systems you need to build trust. External customer trust. Internal employer trust.

Solving Business Problems with System Thinking.

Not rarely solving a business problem comes down to being able to reframe the situation and context. Most of the time de- and reconstructing the Marketing System as a framework to build Trust shows possible solutions to a problem.

This happens through workshops, research, training and doing.

When Archives turn Newsworthy: Cyclo-cross’s disruptive innovation…

I’m a big fan of recycling. Unless when it’s about stuff one writes. This time however I’m glad to “promote” one from the archive:

Cyclo-cross’s disruptive innovation that made competition irrelevant – JANUARY 9, 2011.

I believe I have good reason for recycling this. The article – that uses concepts like “blue ocean strategies” and “business model innovation” – demonstrates a particular disruptive skill in CX cycling that allows to outperform competition. It’s the case of Sven Nys. One of his main advantages is that he leaps over obstacles by bike where other riders need to get of their bike. Exactly this benefit made him the 2013 CX World Champ last sunday!

Watch the video of the 2013 CX WC final lap below. If you don’t understand the Dutch comments, look as from the 4th minute. The obstacles that Nys tackles like nobody else can be seen at 5:30. As from then, it was straight to the World Title.

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