Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Trust me

I suppose one can point to trust as an issue in the long-building financial crisis of the day. 

To some, it was an abuse of trust that led to no-money down, no-proof-of income mortgages and other forms of cheaply financed debt. The debt that got packaged as exotic derivatives (or government bonds?) and sold down the line to trusting souls (in soulless corporations and sovereign wealth funds!) who, though they didn't understand what they were buying, nevertheless trusted the seller...or at least trusted that they could find a buyer behind them. 

And isn't that part of the culture in a reasonably free market? Buyers trust sellers--and vice versa. And what of reasonably free marketers in a reasonably free market...what obligations to trust do they hold? 

I'm not talking about fraud. I'm talking about the very human tendency toward hopeful exaggeration...the size of the fish that got away...the proximity one has to someone famous...the features, benefits or results that a product will deliver.  How will marketers build trust, let alone maintain it, in a marketing environment that demands proof of truth as a prerequisite?

It won't be built through cynicism, certainly. But neither will it be built through unverifiably optimistic promises and pablums in messages that reflect the wishes of the marketer more than the truth of the customer's experience. 

Spend without spending? Save without saving? Be more doing less...no-risk...guaranteed? 

In a show-me-don't-tell-me market, friends and family are the only ones who will have continued access to low cost trust--advertisers will find that the new price of trust can't be financed through words alone...at least, not theirs. 

Who do you trust?

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