Trust-Based Marketing Theory

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Do you customers trust you? If not, you may be in desperate need of some trust-based marketing? In this lesson, we'll discuss the concept, why it's important and how it worked for one of pizza's biggest brands.

Domino's Gets Real

In 2009, a not-so-flattering video of Domino's employees' unsanitary food handling took the internet by storm and set a new type of marketing into motion for the company. What was it, you ask? Domino's simply came out and told everyone how bad they were and that their pizza tasted like cardboard. Pretty shocking, right? It seems the exact opposite of what your average marketer would consider a solid campaign idea.

For the next few months, Domino's beat themselves up in marketing and advertising promotions, conducted taste tests and tweaked not only their recipes but their business practices in a transparent marketing campaign to try to improve their brand. And, it worked. The company that was once struggling is now worth $9 billion and has transformed its image from the cardboard pizza company to a more technologically-savvy, respected - and tasty - brand. How? By building trust with its consumers through transparency.

The concept of trust-based marketing may not be new to savvy marketers, but for wary customers, the idea that brands can be honest and forthright may be hard to believe. Let's look at what trust-based marketing means, why it's important, and how to make it a part of your everyday marketing plan.

What is Trust-Based Marketing?

Trust-based marketing, hearkening back to Dominos' example, is the idea that marketers should use strategies and tactics that are open and honest when communicating with their audience. It is a term coined by Dr. Glen Urban that encourages trustworthy tactics and the dissemination of honest, unbiased marketing. Consumers recognize authenticity and sincerity and reward those brands with their business.

Companies that conduct underhanded marketing practices, make claims they can't support or are generally sketchy in their advertising and promotions draw the wary eye of increasingly savvy consumers. Companies that can market using honest and direct methods gain the respect, trust, and loyalty of their audience. And, as you can probably guess, a happy customer is a satisfied customer.

Why is it Important?

Consider this: Are you more likely to purchase from a brand that displays all of its positives and negatives upfront or a brand that only talks about its positives and you find out about all the hidden negatives later?

Trust-based marketing doesn't necessarily encourage airing a brand's dirty laundry but does offer that being transparent about the good, the bad and the ugly helps instill more confidence in consumers. Honesty builds confidence in consumers and confidence builds trust. Trust, ultimately, builds loyalty.

Thanks to the internet and the unlimited amount of information at consumers' disposal today, trust in marketing is increasingly important in a number of ways:

  • Brands must be accessible and willing to engage in conversation.
  • Products must be of a good value and quality for the price.
  • Brands are expected to be environmentally and socially conscious.
  • Companies have to respect their customers' communications preferences.
  • Businesses must be responsive and accountable to fix mistakes.

Trust-based marketing isn't just about engaging in responsible and sincere strategies, such as being transparent about a mistake on a company's social media accounts. It is also about being honest and sincere in all areas, like creating environmentally-friendly manufacturing practices and responding to consumer concerns in a timely fashion. Want more revenue and more customers? Trust-based marketing strategies will help get you there.

Incorporating Trust-Based Marketing

Do you want to gain the trust of your customer base through open and honest marketing? I certainly hope so! Here are some tips for analyzing any marketing plan and determining whether it's aligning itself with trustworthiness or maybe needs some work to bring sincerity into the fold.

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