Our role as businesses has far deeper resonance today to be seen as a trusted source by others.
Lets look at the recent Edelman Trust Barometer UK point of view.
The recent release from communications group Edelman, highlights the opportunity businesses have to take control of spaces to build a dialogue with an audience. This falls neatly within the whole premise of a content marketing approach.
The survey is based on 28 countries and over 33,000 respondents over the age of 18. The latest fieldwork was conducted between October 13th and November 16th, 2015.
Each year has a different overriding message. What started as the ‘rising influence of the NGO’ (non governmental organisation) in 2001, to last years ‘trust is essential for innovation’ this year’s is labelled the ‘growing inequality of trust.’
The BIG Message
The overall message is that this years report recorded the highest levels of public trust in institutions since the survey began, with NGOs and business becoming recognised far greater than governments and traditional media.
The once reliance on older establishments such as the media and government is paving the way for businesses who have a belief and a wider responsibility to have a voice, become responsible and take the lead.
When you bring together the whole content marketing ethos of the ability to create a consistent body of work for a targeted audience that can inform, entertain and encourage a change of behaviour, then the Edelman report brings a sense of connection to everything.
Edelman Trust Barometer UK Perspective
This is all about bringing context to an approach based on finding something that your business stands for and using the media to express and not just promote.
Whilst Richard Edelman, president and CEO states, “We are now observing the inequality of trust around the world,” I want to focus here on the changing role, opportunity and responsibility for business.
Some key findings to share with you.
1) People Are Willing To Trust Your Business
You have never been in a better time to become recognised by others.
The barriers to entry are far lower than they have ever been and when it comes to search, you are just as credible as the industry dinosaurs that have behaved a certain way for generations.
Institutionalised behaviour is being replaced by individual conviction.
The ability to deliver with speed and agility supports the findings that show people trust businesses more (46%) than they do with the government (36%) and the media (36%).
If you can become the media, meaning an audience are drawn to your belief and you can deliver on a consistent basis, then a path can be set out for you.
2) People Are Credible, Not A Logo
There is now an increase over the past 12 months to trust people you can relate to.
The value a business provides to someone else is not centred on a product, but what people say. The percentage that rate peers/employees/owners as extremely credible has increased from 48% to 52% for an employee and from 41% to 49% for a CEO.
It adds even more clarity, that people feel attached to other people, not a corporate logo.
A quick question who would you trust more if you saw a new Twitter follower, a photo of a person or a logo as the profile picture?
If your customers are looking for information, it is the experiences that you provide to others that provide the glue, not the showcasing of services or telling everyone else about the busy week on a social channel.
Do you have a strategy in place that defines who you are and the role that you play? If you can and then able to communicate on a consistent basis, then you are in a position to differentiate.
3) It Is Your Responsibility To Become The Source Of Information
To become a place that provides answers and a space for others to come to is hard, really hard.
Whilst the journey of AirBnB and Uber highlight brands that are in a perpetual state of utility, creating this with your audience takes commitment. Ask yourself, how much of the marketing and communications you create at the moment provides real value for your audience that is aimed to help them?
Everything has to be centred on solving a real problem people have. Not just as part of a campaign but a commitment from within the company.
From those surveyed, over ¾ of respondents agreed that businesses must lead to solve problems.
4) Spaces That You Control Are Rising In Credibility
Whilst traditional media sources are still seen as the most popular source for news and information, this has dropped from 2012 to 2016 each year.
One of the biggest increases has been within owned media from 41% in 2012 to 46% in 2016.
Owned media embraces a voice with clarity, promotes accountability, which in turn can lead to trust.
This now provides some clarity to why investing within media channels that you have control of from print, your website to your email has created an audience who are now more ready to trust. If you have the ability to provide utility for your audience (as highlighted in point 3, above) and they recognise the role your play and the responsibility you have, it provides the catalyst to keep an audiences attention without the need to rely on paid media channels.
The rise in owned media to provide a credible source of information allows companies to communicate directly with an audience. Whether printed or online, it requires an operational shift that leads to better business results where the whole focus is your audience, not just your product.
5) A Family Business Promotes Relationships
A number of clients I work with are family businesses.
Within the latest Trust Barometer, companies that are family owned within Europe are over a third more likely to be trusted than public or government owned companies.
A family business helps create an identity in the mind of someone else that represents core values that we can all link to.
I wanted to know a bit more about the family business approach and why they are trusted more. I spoke to Jon Dunne, Managing Director from GP property advisors, Jerrard Keats & Wolley.
Jon highlighted, “Those in a big business and government organisations are able to hide behind a screen and do not have to stand up and be responsible for their actions.” They do something wrong and resign and move on to another faceless conglomerate and start the same dishonourable process again. A small business is responsible, has to stand or fail on its reputation for delivering a service.”
“Everything is about building relationships and this becomes your identity as a by-product of your actions, not by the words you write about yourself.”
“As a family business, we wear our hearts on our sleeves, we have to be transparent. We have passion, a goal and a dream, that in return for delivering what our clients want, we will in turn reap a reward that will deliver us our dream, our goal. If we fail in providing that service we fail in achieving our reason to be here.”
So…What Does All Of This All Mean
Distrust from organisations has been magnified over the past ten years.
From the financial crash of 2008 (watch Big Short that puts this all into context), brands exaggerating profits (from Toshiba to Tesco), corruption within governing bodies (such as FIFA) to the media abusing its power (News of the World phone hacking scandal), has aided the immense distrust in businesses.
From the multitude of brands that have abused their power is at the totally opposite end of the spectrum of transparency, empathy, connection and just doing the ‘right thing.’
On the consumer side, all that people want is reliable information and to become better informed, not lied to and being mislead by companies.
What this provides for businesses is an opportunity to establish a clear role of leadership that has its foundations on providing long-term value and not just a heavy reliance on short-term results.
What does this mean for your business? You have never been in a better time to have the ability to share stories of people and how the role of your business is to help people live better lives, spend more time with their family or become better at their job. You take the role of communicating with others from the short-term campaign mentality to the long term-commitment of what you do.
The report highlights that 63% of global survey respondents trust search engines (53% trust traditional media). If what you create is found and you are visible within the spaces that you can build audience and recognition, you can empower others.
It doesn’t mean that you need to be everywhere, but if people can connect with you at the fraction of the cost it used to be to deliver a message to your marketplace, you are in a position no one has ever had before.
People are ready to trust your business; your biggest challenge is to now earn it.