Extremely Trustworthy Companies

by Bruce Kasanoff on April 17, 2012

Don Peppers and Martha Rogers argue that there’s no better way for a company to make you trust them than for them to be totally honest when you least expect it.

They have a great new book on the subject, which you can pre-order now. It’s called Extreme Trust: Honesty as a Competitive Advantage. Here’s a quick excerpt:

Technology has now changed the landscape of competition so much that a new, more extreme form of trustworthiness will be required in order to be successful. Simply doing what you say you’re going to do and charging customers what you say you’re going to charge them will no longer be sufficient. Instead, businesses will be expected to protect the interests of their customers proactively–to go out of their way, commit resources, and use their insights and expertise in such a way as to help customers avoid making mistakes or acting against their own interests simply through their own oversight.

When you open a Coke, are you opening happiness or a bottle of sugar water? Coke marketers work incredibly hard to convince you of the former, but reality says you’re drinking sugar.

Few, if any, mutual funds can consistently beat the market, but financial services marketers work incredibly hard to convey the impression that their portfolio managers are the best. Reality says most are about the same.

Traditionally, marketers have been paid to spin the facts so that prospective customers choose the products they represent. I’ve been in marketing for a long time, but even I can understand that “spin” can variously mean distort, exaggerate, or even deceive.

Heresy? Nope, just the facts.

But what happens now, when humanity itself is being turned into one big fact-checking operation? Social media and 24/7 access to information means a customer in a car dealership is no longer at the mercy of a sales manager who says he has the only Sky Blue convertible hybrid in the state, and that he’s selling it for $1,000 under his cost. (Reality: there are twelve, and his quoted price included $1,727 in profit.)

I’d like to suggest that marketing needs to own the truth. That is, it needs to be marketing’s responsibility to get the facts straight and to make these facts easy for any current or prospective customer to access. But get the book. Don and Martha have been thinking about this a long time, and their ideas are crystal clear.

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