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According to PR agency Edelman, 2015 is the year that online search results will be more trusted than journalists. Speaking about their latest trust barometer report, Edelman also claimed that 80% of people distrust businesses, governments or both.

These facts are not to be under-estimated by marketers, because as the speed of business gets faster and faster, the danger is that we become too quick to seek a sale, and too slow to build a relationship.

As we all know, lasting relationships are built upon trust, and when people trust companies, they are more likely to buy and pay more for their products, as well as recommend them and defend them. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff was speaking at the Davos World Economic Forum last week with a similar message, explaining how “The (business) world is currently in the middle of a trust crisis”.

The tough reality is that consumer trust is low, and despite the amazing advancements in marketing technology, not enough businesses understand their customers well enough in order to know what they want or when they want it. As a result of this, the temptation is to rely on advertising as the most direct way to capture a customer’s attention.

Advertising is the price you pay for unremarkable thinking

- Jeff Bezos

I frequently read stories where social media professionals talk about the power of social networks being in the fact that people trust their friends more than they trust brands. So if all this is true, how can a brand marketer not only keep up with the speed of business, but build a trusting relationship with their customers?

I think a clue lies in the last IBM CEO report that stated, 72% of CEO’s say that their number 1 priority is better understanding of individual customer needs. This often seems easier said than done, but the sole reason that we have built the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, is to help companies build relationships faster with their clients. Understanding your customer is not just knowing what to say to them, it is knowing when to sell to them, but more importantly ~ when to not sell to them. Knowing the difference between the two is the difference between a short term transactional relationship with your customer and a long-term loyal one, built on trust and mutual respect. Now think about the value of that relationship in the context of this quote from consulting firm Bain & Co.

If you are the loyalty leader, on average you will grow twice as fast as your market. Loyalty leaders have a 15% cost advantage.

- Forrester, Competitive Strategy In The Age Of The Customer

So how do you build trust, especially if you are a large company with limited resources? I believe that the answer lies in helping large companies to act like small companies. If you think back to the small business owners of years gone by, or the local store that you visit most often, small companies often have a trust advantage over larger businesses, because they have a personal relationship with you. The best shop keepers don’t sell to you straight away, they talk to you about your family, the weather and your interests ~ and when you are ready to buy, they have a good idea of what you will like and they make the appropriate recommendations. Salesforce Marketing Cloud, which we have spent many years building, was built with this exactly in mind; to help big companies act like small companies. Whether this means knowing how to talk to your audience on social networks, being able to send a highly personalised email at just the right time, or recommend the perfect product to your customer as they are browsing your site, the most successful companies (like the best shopkeepers) understand that profitable relationships are built upon trust.

Marketing used to be about creating a myth and selling; now it’s about finding a truth and sharing it.

- Marc Mathieu, SVP Marketing at Unilever

As you start to think about how you can build trust with your customers and potential customers, I urge you to think back to a time when your local shopkeeper would know your name, your family’s food preferences and most importantly, how and when you liked to be communicated with.

 State of marketing cta