Gone are the days of sleazy salesmen, false advertising, and coercive digital marketing schemes. Thanks to technology, consumers are more equipped than ever to compare quality, prices, and other factors to determine which brands they want to support. A 2014 market research study that honesty is what matters to consumers most, followed by "not letting customers down" and "acting with integrity at all times."
In a world where the truth always seems to make its way out, what can digital marketers do to protect and gain trust? There's no trick to it, but you can learn from other brands. Here are a few examples.
You may recall home surveillance videos that have circulated of couriers, typically around the holidays. Typically a UPS or FedEx driver recklessly tosses packages onto the front porch, shocking and angering viewers. The first time one of these videos went viral, FedEx executives were faced with an unexpected decision, and they had to make it fast. With their reputation for reliability hanging in the balance, they chose an atypical path forward. Rather than avoiding the subject and issuing a canned public apology as companies often do in such situations, FedEx was proactive in their response.
They released an official response video, addressed the issue via social media and a blog post, and ensured customers that the negligent employee was fired. Fifty-seven percent of the comments on their response video were positive, and only 18 percent were negative (the rest were neutral). This example proved that in modern digital communication, where a crisis can both materialize and be addressed overnight, honesty is the best policy for retaining and winning back consumer trust.
A Jacket So Good You Should Keep It
An advertisement by outdoor clothing company, Patagonia did more than raise a few eyebrows just before Christmas. The brand published an ad in the midst of Black Friday madness, urging customers to not buy their jacket - or anything else they sold. This surprising and daring ad detailed the environmental costs involved in making just one Patagonia jacket, even revealing the massive amount of waste their clothing production created. The brand launched a Common Threads Initiative, which customers could sign, pledging to be more conscious, less wasteful consumers. Against all odds, Patagonia strengthened its relationship with consumers by airing its dirty laundry and took a risk nearly no brand ever has: suggesting that maybe you shouldn't buy their clothes.
We're slowly learning that even in the most difficult and seemingly catastrophic scenarios, honest digital marketing is what works. Even in the face of a mistake or uncertainty, customers are willing to work with a brand that is open, is honest, and not afraid to get real.