We are the least trusting people in America’s history.
That's according to a myriad of sources and it's easy for all of us to see by simply paying attention to current trends. We don't trust CEOs. We don't trust elected leaders. And we don't trust traditional experts.
This is an unprecedented situation. Note this summation from the Edelman 2017 Trust Barometer: "Only 37 percent of the general population now say CEOs are credible, and only 29 percent say the same about government officials."
Where has all that trust gone? Today, we trust "others" (people like us who we don't know personally) more than we do experts.
Where do we turn for medical or parenting advice when our little ones are feeling bad in the middle of the night? We used to call Ask-A-Nurse; today, we seek suggestions from a mom blogger we've never met.
Are traditional sources of trust dead? Actually, Is Truth Dead (as a recent cover of TIME magazine asked)? How do we distinguish truth from falsehoods; facts from fiction? Science from fantasy?
And most important, how do leaders continue to build trust in today's business climate?
Omnichannel strategies are more important than ever
An omnichannel approach is more important than ever. Manage every touchpoint or interaction with each person. Activate your paid, earned, shared and controlled communications and marketing tools and you'll help create your own credibility and synergies.
Continue to seek earned media whenever possible. Speak regularly to industry groups to share your smarts. Amplify and merchandise these "earned" moments by adapting the content to other channels. Leaders who speak and get quoted are recognized as credible thought leaders.
If your organization has inherent credibility, create more content-controlled communications. Case studies. Thought leadership. Newsletters. Speaking engagements. Bylines. Content marketing. Customized communications. Remember, they need to be educational, not promotional.
This is also the time to consider creating new vehicles to educate your key audiences. We see a resurgence of in-person events, laser-targeted email marketing and short (less than three minutes) videos.
Most marketing initiatives consider the sales funnel completed at the sale stage. We don’t. We believe there is one more step today, to build advocacy and trust.
"There are many truths, depending on your point of view." -- Obi Wan Kenobi
I've often quoted this wise Star Wars philosopher. Was Darth Vader a good guy or a bad guy? Is that a terrorist, or a freedom fighter? Was that person a hero or a hacker? The truth depends on your point of view.
But some truths are absolute, regardless of one's perspective. This ad for The New York Times does a superb job of explaining their commitment to truth. The New York Times explains that truth is hard, essential and uncaring whether or not you believe it.
To be trusted, be authentic, be transparent, be proactive and give trust. As Paulo Freire said, "The trust of the people in the leaders reflects the confidence of the leaders in the people."
Trust your team. Trust your clients. Your trust will be returned, but be realistic with your expectations.