All Mod Comms: The ROI of your Comms is Trust

All Mod Comms: The ROI of your Comms is Trust

(The Currency of Next-Generation Business and Communications is “Trust”)

Trust is not a new concept for branding and marketing folks. There’s  a whole portfolio of blog posts, books and articles discussing the importance of a user’s trust in a brand. Currently there is conflux of Trust within three key forces. When aligned into an equation, these forces point to a specific answer… Trust is the currency of the near future. Trust will lead to ROI. Trust is the buffer between comms and actions.

Three Forces

Three current forces are creating a conflux point of “Trust”:

  • Branding as high-art ( brand value, brand equity)
  • Business organizational change due to disruption (knowledge economy, accelerated creative destruction)
  • Social media behavior (social capital, social sharing, WOM)

These three forces have pushed Trust to the forefront of b2b, b2c, and p2p relationships. Trust has become a key ROI of all three as all three have converged into the social arena:

  • Branding strives to create stronger brand trust
  • Businesses are acclimating to and adopting “Social Business” transparency
  • Active Social Media users are creating new channels for trust (beyond traditional media outlets such as news and advertising)

The question all current communications campaigns should be answering is, “Are we creating greater trust between our brand and our audience?” Trust leads to more sales, focus your comms campaigns on Trust.

Dissecting the Force

The once bound-up forces of Value, have become unwoven. Simply this equation used to be “Value = Function + Trust (- Decay)”.  At the dawn of consumerism, Function was the key value as new products made life easier. A simple filter determined trust, “did it work?” and “will it keep working?” Now, the force of Trust is tied to many more psychological and behavioral factors. Products and Brands can have a value equation of “Value = Trust,” skipping function altogether. We’re in the era where Brand Trust can trump Brand Function. When both Function and Trust are done well, the product is unstoppable.

Economic Shifts towards Trust

Since 2000 organizational gurus have been pointing to research data on the shift to a knowledge-based economy. They point to “Trust” as the new connective currency of internal corporate success. They have identified the failure of both hierarchal structures and market-driven forces to create new value and opportunity.

Their strong recommendation is for corporations to change their models and adopt more agile, collaborative methods where knowledge can be shared across teams, across pillars without penalty. The non-hierarchal (wirearchy) collaborative team is the ideal way to create value and success in an economy based on Trust.

Social Media as Current Fix

Social Media is the comms world’s entry into this shift, but are the current offerings from social comms programs really adding trust to the equation? Or are they focused on current-fix metrics such as likes, links and follows that map closer to banner-advertising lingo of impressions and views. A small pivot is taking place where comms leaders are seeking ROI beyond quantitative metrics. This trend will grow exponentially.

Trust is separate from price/cost, it’s separate from salary…it’s an emerging currency all to itself. It’s a super-currency on top money. The ROI of Trust maps to sales, but it’s not based on market forces, it’s based on a belief of the value of the thing for sale.

The question we should be asking is “what is the ROI of Trust,” with the next actionable question to be “how do we shift our business and comms programs to embrace Trust as a currency.”