Six steps to building trust in the social world by Sharon MacLean


Six steps to building trust in the social world



By Sharon A.M. MacLean

Troy Media/Worldgate Media

April 22nd, 2015

I love coming across thought leaders who speak common sense.

These are icons like Zig Zieglar who took the time for personal reflection throughouth his life on building a successful business. He said, “If people like you, they’ll listen to you. But if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”

Wow. That was true back in the day–and it hasn’t changed one pixel in the digital world.

It’s the reason that Cammie Dunaway impressed me. She previously was responsible for marketing with Yahoo! before taking over as US President of theme park KidZania. Here’s some wisdom adapted from her interview with Incite: West that I especially appreciated with a few personal observations.

1. Good marketing starts with deep understanding of your brand. This means that we must spend time training front-line employees, decorating offices to reflect your brand, and delivering a good experience for customers. It’s also a good idea to think like journalists to discover those stories that are important to customers before packaging and communicating them throughout the organization–for employees as well as for customers.

Do your core values speak to excellence in the workplace and surpasssing customer expectatons? Then please don’t forget to say, “Good morning,” to your employees. And recall another one from Zig: “If you’re sincere, praise is effective. If you’re insincere, it’s manipulation.”

By the way, packaging can mean anything from an e-newsletter, blog, infographic or company magazine to a short video or podcast to social media. Automated and targeted email campaigns to your database–the only real estate you own in the digital world–will save you time and money.

2. Employees—increasingly, the public face of the company through social media—need training time. To repeat: This means making sure that employees are communicating in ways that are consistent with the brand image. It may be viewed as a time waster but the effort it takes to articulate your core values as well as vision and mission for everyone to see will do wonders for company morale. Next, think about placing these intentions in a picture frame to remember why you go to work each day.

3. Clear, simple messages repeated frequently are necessary. “When you feel like you’ve said something so much that you’re being redundant, you might actually just be breaking through,” said Dunaway.


The question I like to ask business owners who happen to be parents is this: “How many times have you asked your children to clean up their room today?” They nod knowingly (apart from the odd exception). Now, multiply that by thousands of people who happen to be adults and you will get the idea how often we sometimes need to repeat a message.

4. Understand behaviour at an individual level before matching experiences and communications. Dunaway looks at incremental revenue, both through repeat visits, as well as purchases of additional products and services. These methods really help to pinpoint people and trends more accurately.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve asked business owners and executives about the frequency of their customer visits, which items they purchased—at what time of year, and how often. Sadly, they often cannot tell me. Yet, it’s this granular detail that will help them to plot future growth.

5. How are experiences built for customers? “All of us today are so bombarded with messaging that if it doesn’t feel extremely personal and extremely relevant, we tend to tune it out,” observed Dunaway. A simple example would be to address customers by name, and know if they are very close to achieving a new level in your loyalty program. Next, congratulate them.

Small business owners usually do this very well. Not only do they know their customers’ names, they often know their children’s names, and special anniversaries throughout the year. It’s an area that, I believe, big business can learn from small business.

6. How have consumers changed? Trust is critical to Dunaway. You can nurture long-term relationships with consumers by educating them about you, your business, and the back stories on your products and services. It’s not just about maximizing today’s sales.

Dunaway says transparency of information about pricing is critical for customer satisfaction. The veteran marketer also encourages you to be surrounded with really good people who spend time in building relationships throughout the company. She likes the idea of an orchestra where the conductor gets all the musicians playing together.

Here’s one more from Zig: “Success doesn’t make you and failure doesn’t break you.” Amen, Mr. Ziglar.




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Life-long communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine over 21 years for business people. She now applies her enhanced knowledge in digital marketing to the needs of her clients and believes in the value of combining the best of both worlds.


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