This past month I read a book called Honest to Greatness . It was a great book about how being honest and truthful in how you do business ALWAYS leads to better results. I think, at its core, most people know this, but do they practice it? In the ever-evolving landscape of marketing, one element remains constant: the importance of trust. Trust is the cornerstone upon which long-term relationships with customers are built. It's not just about making a sale; it's about creating a bond that stands the test of time, market fluctuations, and even mistakes. In a world where consumers are bombarded with endless choices and claims, trust is the differentiator that can set a brand apart. It’s also important to point out that a company can’t say they are a “trusted” company. Trust isn’t stated, its earned, and more importantly it is earned from the customers they serve
The Trust Equation
Trust can be broken down into several components: credibility, reliability, intimacy, and self-orientation. Credibility is about the words we speak; in a marketing context, this means the claims a brand makes about its products. Reliability is about actions, or how consistently a brand delivers on its promises. Intimacy refers to the safety or security that we feel when entrusting a brand with our personal information. Self-orientation, the final component, is about the brand's focus—whether it genuinely wants to solve a customer's problem or is just out to make a sale.
The “Trust” Behind Zero Trust
Take for example the concept of Zero Trust. Now, most people who know anything about cybersecurity know, that moving to a Zero Trust architecture helps advance a companies cybersecurity maturity. Also, folks who understand cybersecurity and Zero Trust know that it takes a number of capabilities to implement Zero Trust within an organization. Yet, there are companies that have redefined themselves as a “Zero Trust” company when they only offer one product or maybe a product and some services in the entirety of a Zero Trust framework. This falls well short of what is needed to implement a full Zero Trust framework.
The challenge practitioners have with this is two-fold. First is knowledge. In today’s IT landscape, where practitioners need to cover several needs in the organization, they may not know specific terminology or what is fully needed to support a Zero Trust framework. When they look at one vendor marketing themselves as a Zero Trust vendor, they may believe they don’t have to look any further. And when time is the most precious commodity they have, they may be selling themselves short and not get the full understanding of what they really need. Second, they only have a limited budget, so if they believe that the vendor, who is marketing themselves as a “Zero Trust” company, can help them solve their issues end to end, they may spend their whole budget with them to solve a problem that, in reality, the vendor can’t fulfill. Then the client, who still needs to solve the problem can’t because they spent their whole budget on a solution that only helped them with part of what they needed.
Part of the issue, especially for companies that hold themselves accountable to a quarterly based income statement, is that these companies will not tell the full truth. They would much rather gain quick market share revenues to look good for Wall St. However they, this approach risks long-term sustainability and can lead to a vicious cycle of declining quality, customer trust, and market share. This is proven over and over in the afore mentioned book.
In conclusion, honest and trust isn't just a nice-to-have in marketing; it's a must-have. It's the foundation upon which successful brands are built. In an age where consumers are more skeptical than ever, earning and maintaining trust can provide a significant competitive advantage. When companies make honesty and trust a core part of their marketing strategy, they don't just win customers; they win advocates. And in today's competitive market, that's worth its weight in gold.