Trust, It's Earned Not Given

I think there's a pervasive misunderstanding about trust. I've heard the question asked, "Do you trust me?" But, there's a far more important question to deal with, and that's, "What have you done to earn my trust?" Trust is not something that's given. It's something that earned. It's earned through clear, consistent action. It's critical to understand those three little words. So, over the next three posts, this one included, I will chat about each of them. Interestingly, at least to me, these concepts can apply to personal relationships as well as to the trust between a brand and its consumers, and that's what I will focus on.


I may have said this before but I love something I heard about Ernest Hemingway. He said the greatest story he ever wrote was only 6 words long. 

For sale. Baby clothes. Never worn.

I love this for it's brevity. It seems to me that brevity is the key to clarity. When we are forced to strip away all the marketing stuff and simply talk like human beings, with few opportunities for bloviating, we get crystal clear about what we are trying to communicate. I think that's why Twitter has become such a compelling communication medium.

In the past, positioning statements have served to help us to focus our message and value proposition so that we could communicate effectively. However, the classic positioning statement has become longer and more complex over the years. For example, look at this one:

For existing Nuance customers, Nuance Recognizer v9 is the best-of-breed speech recognition software that drives higher business performance by dramatically increasing the efficiency of your self-service solutions.  By combining the natural conversational capabilities of OpenSpeech Recognizer with the administration and maintenance resources of the Nuance 8.5 engine, Nuance Recognizer v9 provides unparalleled levels of accuracy, reliability, and ease of use.

I still believe the classic structure of a positioning statement has value, but I would propose a key step before you get to the point of writing a positioning statement. That step is writing  a very, very short statement using normal human language, about what your brand stands for, what it means and what's important. Here's one approach.

The Brand Tweet

Here's the drill; write a 140 character description of what your brand stands for or what's important without using a single marketing term. Here are the words you must avoid: consumer, marketplace, cutting edge, equity, revolutionary, out-of-the-box, paradigm and any other terms you commonly hear in your conference rooms. For example a brand tweet from Volvo would look like this.

Volvo, a slightly pricey family car that offers the best safety possible.

That's 73 characters that states the brand, the price point, the category and a benefit. Yes, perhaps a classically structured positioning statement gives more information but notice there isn't a single marketing term or business buzz word in the statement above. It also reflects alot confidence. It says, "Yes, we know we are a little expensive, but there's a reason why." While this is an internal statement, it can become the starting point of real clarity in how you speak to your customers. 

Next time, I'll talk about consistency.

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