How trust became a premium product (with an extremely short shelf life)

Think Do Say: How to seize attention and build trust in a busy, busy world.
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Not only is the customer completely exhausted from not knowing where to look, they’re absolutely fried trying to figure out whether the people and brands worthy of winning their time are also worthy of winning their budget. With so many options to choose from, distributed through so many new methods of delivery, supporting so many new business models, using so many new technologies—how can anyone know who to trust anymore?

They can’t. And they don’t.

Let’s face it, the customer’s mindset about business is often affected by their mindset outside of business, and when it comes to trust in general, Joe and Jill Public have thrown up their hands in frustration. Lance Armstrong lied to our faces. The Panama Papers accomplished nothing. The 1 per cent got richer. “America’s Dad,” Bill Cosby, turned out to be “America’s Predator.” The police stopped protecting and started harming. Politicians sent dick pics to anyone with a data plan. Trump lies more than he blinks. Almost half of the men in Hollywood left people yelling, #HimToo?! The Russians stole the election. Cambridge Analytica stole our data. There are fake Amazon Reviews. And bots providing service that used to be done by humans. Is it any wonder that the period we’re in is often referred to as the “Post-Truth Age”?

People are now so skeptical that they don’t turn to members of the clergy for the truth. They turn to Adam Ruins Everything. Trust has become a premium product with an incredibly short shelf life.

Consumers Don’t Know Who to Trust

Over and over, promises were made to customer—life would be better or faster or cheaper or leaner or cleaner or greener—but the truth behind the promises hinged on whether consumers were willing to read the six inches of legal birdseed that followed the phrase, “Some conditions apply.” What customers wanted was the truth. Brands responded with, “You can’t handle the truth! So here’s an asterisk and some legal disclaimers instead.”

To customers, life has just been one big Fyre Festival of trust, making their purchase decision motto, “It’s probably too good to be true.”

Your Colleagues Don’t Know Who to Trust

If consumers have been tainted by broken promises, your colleagues have been left skeptical by broken mission statements. Old guard execs bonus themselves while their outdated business models crumble. The new guard nouveau riche cash out after starting and selling businesses that have never shown a profit. In an age of chaos where people fear for their jobs, your colleagues been left feeling like they’ve been voluntold to appear on a corporate version of Survivor, repeatedly hearing the mantra “Employees are our most valuable asset” just before Jeff Probst finishes that week’s episode with, “The Senior Management Tribe has spoken. We wish Carol the best in her future endeavors.”

Your colleagues used to laugh at Dilbert. Now they’re living it.

You Don’t Know Who to Trust

You’re the only one who truly cares about you. Everyone else has a bias. Your boss wants your loyalty. Your subordinates want your job. Your vendors want your budget. Your clients want your time. You’ve heard promises about your role. Promises about your compensation. Promises about your team. The only direction you’ve been given is to “innovate,” but no one has told you what that actually means, and no one has given you the budget to explore it or the forgiveness to get it wrong. Instead, you spend more time creating the illusion of innovation than truly innovating. You don’t know where to turn for true and trusted advice.

Here’s the thing. People used to vote with their wallet. Now they vote with their time.

Often, who they trust is who they listen to.

Who they trust is who they buy.

Who they trust is who they recommend.

Who they trust is who they promote.

Who they trust is who wins their time.

They don’t know where to look. They don’t know who to trust.

What are you going to do about that?

Excerpted with permission from Think Do Say: How to seize attention and build trust in a busy, busy world. 

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Ron Tite
Ron Tite is the founder of Church+State, executive producer and host of the podcast, “The Coup” (Rogers Frequency), co-author of Everyone’s an Artist (Harper Collins, 2016) and author of Think Do Say: How to Seize Attention and Build Trust in a Busy, Busy World (Page Two, 2019).