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.

Cavemen Speak. A marketing lesson from Family Guy S04E27.

Watching another Family Guy marathon on BBC Television earlier this week, I came to realize that we need to start taking back-to-basics marketing seriously. What marketing lessons do you see in this brilliant piece of storytelling?
I believe there are many lessons to observe in this Family Guy episode. They are detailed under the video. I encourage you to watch the full episode. It rocks. Hard.

On Evolution.

People are social animals. They live in hordes. We like to call that communities. Basically we’re still cave men. That’s how our mind works deep inside. As result, we can look at “Cavemen Sales processes” to understand marketing and communication lessons for today.

Cavemen Speak. Peter Invent Wheel. No one want wheel. Maybe Peter Wheel Sales Pitch not good enough?

Peter tries to sell the wheel to potential customers by putting up a story to convince them. He tries different tactics, tactics that might sound familiar to you:

  • Benefit Communication: communicate the strengths of the product. And believe people are rational enough to get the benefit. Failed.
  • Promotional Communication: communicate your product and offer an extra. Believe people are really eager to get the extra that they buy the product. Failed.
  • Means-End Communication: communicate your product as a means to an end. In traditional TV advertising this is often seen. Failed. Well, I didn’t actually in the episode but it often does in reality.

So, everything fails, huh? Yes. And maybe because the fragment doesn’t show how Cavemen Trade happened. It occurred while surrounding around the fire. Not on an advertising stage.

The snag: Cavemen didn’t have an “advertising stage”. They had a conversational fireplace.

There’s a snag in the above. Cavemen didn’t have an advertising stage. They had a conversational fireplace where all stories within the community resided. Sounds familiar? It should be. Today’s consumer sphere is mostly happening in a conversational fireplace. Yes, Think social media.

In case the context is similar, one should deploy the success factors. These elements are the essence of back-to-basics marketing – which I detailed in an earlier post.

Back-to-basics Marketing. How Cave Men Traded.

To describe characteristics of Back 2 Basics Marketing, one can look at how “Marketing” worked in the age of the cavemen. Let’s dig a little deeper into that.

Cavemen initially had no media except for their own voice. Speech was important. It was the manner to transmit information from one to another. This not rarely occurred in “community gathering” fashion, to know, gathered around a fire.

It was the perfect moment to inform people about specific skills, knowledge and expertise another community-member possessed. The way information was transmitted was mainly through telling stories. Stories are easier to remember, pass through, etc. than e.g. bulleted lists.

Furthermore, discussing one’s “business” ( = something he could provide to the community) in a public forum (the fire) resulted in a strong focus on delivering quality and servicing customers. Successful cavemen entrepreneurs made sure their quality & service was endorsed over and over by customers around the fireplace. Today we call that customer advocacy & ambassadorship.

Finally, because of the above context, there was no single cavemen offering “crap” to the market. Crap couldn’t survive very long. All products and services had value that exceeded the pure financial one. Crappy products, services (and hence brands and enterprises) were put to flames during the community gathering.

Back 2 Basics Marketing

Back 2 Basics Marketing

Sports & Business. Not that stupid after all?

Tactics Board from sports apllied to the world of business

Tactics Board from sports apllied to the world of business

A category of this blog bears the label “sports”. The articles within this section always link sports with business.
The posts aim to simplify more complicated business stuff by giving examples from the world of sports. In addition it strives to learn lessons from sports and apply them in a business kind of sphere.

Up until now, the sports category has 6 posts. The reason for that is that I always wondered whether this specific endeavour made any sense at all. Or as my last post finished :

Can businesses learn something from sport? Or is sport just sport?

I believe we can transfer insights from one societal aspect to another. Below are two cases from other people that back up this point. The question remains ‘why’ however.

Sport is not just sport. Content Marketing Strategy is like football.

Below is a free translation of a sports analogy used by: @steven_insites in a Dutch Marketing Magazine so to explain content marketing.

It’s like Football.

Developing a content conversion strategy is similar to putting together a football team. And it’s all about scoring in football. But in order to score the team must get the ball to the striker. Some teams use long passes to get there, others carefully advance through short passes. But in the end the ball needs to cross the line.

The marketer is the coach, the team composer. It’s up to him to decide how to get the ball crossing the line. But anyway, don’t expect to win without a proper strategy.

Sport is not just sport. The Jeremy Lin example.

Learnings from Jeremy Lin

Learnings from Jeremy Lin

Another case demonstrating that learnings from sports can be transferred to business is the story of Jeremy Lin. This case deals with basketball, underdog positions and the power of social media.

During last week Jeremy Lin became a sensation. The New York Knicks guard became a sensation first on new media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook but soon enough captured the attention of traditional media as well.

The Knicks guard is in tremendous shape and does crazy stuff on the court. Even that crazy it led to the neologism “linsational” or “linsanity”. This remarkable story detailed in the N.Y. Times shows us the power of bottom-up marketing for underdog players.

In this particular case people were surprised because they didn’t know Jeremy before. There are not that many Harvard players, not that many Asian-Americans. He’s an underdog. But he works hard and it pays off today.

So where’s the lesson for business?
SMEs and underdog players can turn their position into an advantage by offering great products (Jeremy plays incredible) and let that spread from within the fan network (Twitter, Facebook) towards the public sphere (traditional media, such as N.Y. Times). And yes, this includes working really really hard.

Why can we learn something from a completely different sphere?

I believe it’s proven we can learn a thing from an entirely different phenomenon. But why?
Is it because all are just aspects of the same society?

What does Mark Etting do for a living? On Marketing and the Marketer.

A common reaction marketers face?

A common reaction marketers face?

The What do you do for a living question.

It happens from time to time that people show interest in what you do professionally. Not surprisingly, some of them even pose the “what do you do for a living question”.

I formerly answered this with “I’m in marketing”.
And I recently stopped giving that answer.

Today “I’m getting market”, as it turned out that most people react to “marketing” with a frown of their eye brows while producing a little – rather scary – noise in between their teeth. It looks like the images on the left.

Agreed, I’m a marketer. My professional activities are about “getting market”.

I’m a marketer. And I can’t help it. It’s not a well-planned career path. It’s more something that I, as a sociologist, accidentally stumbled into. Nevertheless, it proves to bring me self-fulfillment. I’m happy with what I do, Trying to “get market”, like in marketing, like in “market getting”, not like in “pushing markets”.

Guess the whole frowning and bad-noise-making reactions on “being in marketing” has to deal with to the old-school conception of “what it is to be a marketer” or “what it is to push markets”.
Or: how old-school actually means old-scream.

What is marketing? The old-school vision: SCREAM : OLD MARKETING

Allow me to refer to Seth Godin’s book “Meatball Sundae – Is your marketing out of sync?” to explain the difference between “old marketing” and “new marketing”. After all the first part of the book makes a great analysis of how new consumer needs and the internet made old marketing (think: P&G, TV and mass production) less effective. The book continues by underpinning this difference with broader sociological phenomena that are re-shaping the world…
Yup, you’ve got to love it!

What is marketing? The new-school vision: Unleashing the Power of Marketing: WHISPER : NEW MARKETING

old vs new marketing: Meatball Sundae

old vs new marketing: Meatball Sundae

Within this respect Seth’s advice is to no longer interrupt people with spammy messages, to make innovation (in all its dimensions) your biggest cost and last – but certainly not least – craft marketing into your product(s).

This is what I would call new marketing. Don’t make crap, produce value and don’t push it. This is the only valid approach to take on marketing. It’s not about supporting short-term sales of crappy products. It’s not about advertising. Or as some put it: “commit acts, not ads”.

If you look at it like that, you quickly realize that marketing shouldn’t be perceived negatively. It can and should be used as a positive force to engage with your customer – whether to improve life (B2C) or business objectives (B2B).

But how can you unleash the power of your marketers?
Well, I believe the GE story is a great example.

How GE unleashed the power of Marketing

“When GE realized that its products would no longer sell themselves, it had to invent a formidable marketing function from scratch.” (Comstock, Gulati, Liguori)

Let’s say about 10 years ago, GE had no significant marketing. The company was quite confident in its technologies. It believed the technical superiority would get market for itself. People with the position of a marketer were assigned to sales support (lead generation, events, …) or to communications (advertising, PR). In the essential corporate strategy meetings, marketing wasn’t invited. Marketing was considered a support function – or even overhead. Things were about to change however …

GE - unleashed the power of marketing

GE - unleashed the power of marketing

The business was mature and GE could no longer win by simply launching increasingly advanced technologies or by taking existing technologies to new markets. Some of their best offerings were mere commodities.

The re-focus in GE’s strategy was accompanied with a note by the CEO who stated that: “marketing should be a vital operating function across GE and an engine for organic growth.”

How does one implement such a thing?

New Marketing is a culture, not a department, role or responsibility.

In short, one could say GE’s corporate culture changed. They gave Marketing the respect it deserved. It wasn’t just a sales support function for screaming messages at as many people as possible. As a result, marketing at GE is now an engine for growth. It paves the way for customer collaboration, new product opportunities and new markets.

Equally important however is that this new marketing is related to a new society. Let’s say Society 3.0 or the trends as described in Meatball Sundae. Did you know by the way that lots changed in society 3.0? Branding for instance. Your brand is about to be a reflection of your corporate culture, certainly in the long run.

New positions top-class marketers reflect New-school Marketing

I tend to see a compelling relation with the new positions by well-known marketing guru. Their new functions basically show this “unleashing the power of marketing and marketers idea”. Here’s a small overview of those top of my mind – feel free to suggest more:

Sincerely yours,

Mark Etting.

This Monkey is in for some Candy. And Stories.

Monkey brains want stories.

Monkey brains want stories.

Please Listen very carefully to what this monkey has to say. He shall say this only once!

It’s monday evening. You had another marvelous meal with your family. Children are to bed. You’re all set.
Couch? Check. Tele? Check. Wife half asleep under the blanket? Check. Game on? Check. Candies? Check.

Hold on, wait a minute!

Didn’t you just enjoy a great dinner with wife and kids? Do you really need that candy bar? I thought children were to bed? I can tell you one thing: you don’t want candy. So why are you eager for candy than?
Well, simply because you have a monkey brain!

You’re telling me I have the brain of a monkey?

No offense, but yes I do tell you that you have a monkey brain. Period. Let me explain. In fact, you still have that brain from back in the days people lived in caves. And it’s that caveman that is hard-wired deep inside of you that makes you want to have candy. You know back in the cave days, sugar was scarce. So we took every single chance we had to pump sugar into our body.

Nowadays, we still have that same brain. We still take every chance we have to eat candy. However, in today’s world sugar isn’t rare it all. It’s everywhere. But our brain doesn’t realize that. What our brain also doesn’t realize is that it simply loves stories.

Monkey brain loves stories.

Back in the cavemen days, stories were the manner to transmit information and knowledge in such a way that it was easy to remember and to share. The explanation speaks for itself: in an oral culture – where content is transmitted via speech – one needs a certain “angle” to find something compelling in order get attention, to be remembered and – especially to be shared. And that’s where stories come into play.

Stories create an angle. An angle makes something remarkable. Something that is remarkable enough to be noticed. Something that is that impressive that you might remember. Something that is that awesome that you need to share it with your peers.

Storytelling as a means to pass information - cavemen speak

Storytelling as a means to pass information - cavemen speak

Stories are told with moderate voice, or even whispered!

As stated before, in oral cultures, information was passed along through the usage of stories. As people were unable to transcend distance, only those at the right time and at the right place were able to hear the information. They were close enough to hear a story being told. A story brought to them via the medium ‘voice’ or ‘speech’.

The medium wasn’t disruptive and messages weren’t loudly screamed at participants. People who wanted to take part were pulled towards the storytelling circle, because of their interests, because of the fact they belonged to the community.

What we should realize here is that “stories” and “storytelling” are hard-wired into our cavemen brain – as is our love for sugar and thus candy. OK. Fact. But doesn’t the monkey brain brings along implications for today’s business, marketing and communication?

Not authentic? Sleep outside of the cave... not safe for mammoths!

Not authentic? Sleep outside of the cave... not safe for mammoths!

The monkey brain and your business, marketing and communication efforts

I didn’t tell the story above without a reason. I want to distill some essential characteristics of human communication and relate them to the world of business, marketing and communication.

The thing is, we are still cavemen, all of us. Our brain still favors elements that are compatible with a cavemen environment. We live in a modern world with a prehistoric brain. So here we go, what are the implications of the monkey brain for business, marketing and communication?

  • Don’t push it, Pull me. But pull me hard, Baby!
    The storytelling phenomenon from the cavemen clearly demonstrates that information or messages should not disrupt (push). Creators and distributors of information made their content that relevant that people were basically dragged towards them. In this manner, creators could whisper the story to the people in the circle. The circle is what we label today as a community.
    Today, with so-called social media, we have the chance to spread stories and make them easily accessible for anyone. Through conversations about the story, the community is build. No need for shouting. Whispering works just fine.
  • Connect people, Stupid!
    The whole point of the cavemen culture was to connect people by creating a “shared knowledge base” crafted through stories. Because of mankind’s evolution we altered from this and we started screaming our information. After all, screaming was the only way to reach people spread across the globe.
    Today, with the rise of social conversation digital media, we have the chance to act close to our monkey brain again. We can whisper messages to people in our storytelling circle slash community. To match the monkey brain, a whispering approach seems to work well. As a result we need to show ourselves in our authentic way, fully transparent.
  • No spinning please, those sleep outside of the cave.
    Social control was rather big in cavemen society. People that told stories that weren’t authentic or fully transparent weren’t appreciated. They were condemned to sleep outside of the cave. Pretty unsafe for mammoths!
    If you aren’t authentic and transparent today, you’re well on your way to loose all the monkey brain people – which is basically everybody! So you might want to consider…

Old marketing versus New marketing

It seems as if the above reflections result in the same conclusion as made by market researchers. Here’s something I found through Twitter (yes, Twitter): a “bit of Polle Demaagt” from InSites Consulting. I believe at the end, we (try to) indicate the same thing. For those who rather have schemes than a story, I’m talking about the scheme below.

Old versus New Marketing - Insites Consulting / Bits of Polle Demaagt

Old versus New Marketing - Insites Consulting / Bits of Polle Demaagt

That’s why I Whisper through the Web in XL, Medium and Small

The above shows why I whisper through the web. Yes, I don’t wear a monkey suite. And yes, I do realize that the baseline “screaming is from the past” doesn’t completely fit. But I hope to have demonstrated that in the cavemen era people whispered in a community – they did not scream to people outside the community (who didn’t care about the information) and that we consequently altered from this, but that we now have the chance to go back to acting like our monkey brain loves most.

See which stories I whisper through the web? Hit the below links:

Oh, just one more thing.

The above is just my story, framed for a special purpose. I could have framed it completely different. But here’s why I did not.

Just one more thing - Steve Job sentence

Just one more thing - Steve Job sentence

The story of me ending up writing this story

Date is March 2010 or something like that. I decided to set-up this blog. Did get an average of 23 people a day. Hooray!

OK, it helped me to get rid of my writing anger. But clearly, it soon appeared that I wanted more. So I ended up thinking about adding some touchpoints for the blog: a twitter account, mention it on linkedin, tumblr account, etc. Options were numerous.

I decided to go for Twitter first. I think we were September 2010 by then and it’s one of the key drivers of writing this piece.

Twitter as a home-cooked private teacher

There you are. You have a twitter name. Congratulations! Now what? What to do with it?

I decided to consider Twitter as my private teacher as I figured a lot of interesting people had to be active on Twitter: MBA professors, Industry Thought Leaders, etc.

Twitter is full of crap


Twitter - try to craft it into a first-class professor

Setting up an attempt like crafting Twitter into a first-class MBA professor is hard. Quite frankly, I’ve unfollowed loads of people that I followed at the start of my Twitter experience.

But one guy has been there almost from the very start. And I’ll probably never unfollow him: @rafstevens.

@rafstevens, my Storytelling teacher

I was intrigued by Raf’s project “The New Trade”, a crowd-funded and crowd-sourced book on Storytelling for business. So I asked Raf: “how does the collaboration process work?”. Raf kindly replied me “why not have a phone call about that” and provided his phone number. I promised to call him the day after. I didn’t. It slept my mind. My apologies.

However, I decided to take this “social error” (not calling as promised) into an advantage. After all it gave me the time to get more details and insights on the entire storytelling thing.

I used Twitter (and @rafstevens in particular) to obtain an MBA in storytelling. With Raf’s expressions and links to other world-class storytellers I started to realize what it’s all about. Or at least, I believe I do. I wonder if Raf thinks so too.

Business as a societal phenomenon

Say whaaaaaaat?

Some call it “Marketing”, others call it “getting market”. I call it “Business as a societal phenomenon” – which transforms the same thing into an even more interesting aspect of contemporary society.

Why I don’t use the word “Marketing”?

Marketing is often narrowed into the creation of a brochure, the creation of a website, etc. Since this is what most people think of when you tell them you do marketing for a living and since this shrinks down the importance of Marketing way too much, we don’t want to use that word to describe our everyday-life activities and reflections.

Why do marketers need to be sociologists?

Well, quite simple: it’s the marketers job to interpret human behaviour. This includes analyzing it within the correct contextual environment(s).

Why do you hear this for the first time?

I assume you never read or studied the work of “Theodor Ludwig Wiesengrund Adorno”.

%d bloggers like this: