Friday, December 23, 2011

Trust or consequences?

'Tis also the season of boorish behavior, it seems.  Is it the solstice?

While the perception is that inexcusable behavior rises as we get into ho, ho ho mode, perhaps it's just made more visible because acting badly doesn't jibe with the Joy to the World, Season-of-Light narrative that's all around us.

But hey, neither does crass commercialism.

The silver lining is that there is a considerable, growing and very visible backlash.  With the rise of social media, uncivil behavior is not going unchecked. 

To wit:
  • JP Morgan Chase CEO's Jamie Dimon was called out in Josh Brown's zeitgeist-lassoing letter for his peevishness at being castigated for being "successful."
  • As Black Friday brings more and more stories of disturbing behavior among many, people are documenting it and putting pressure on institutions to check it.
It is a good thing -- to borrow a phrase from a convicted felon -- that we're not inured to such bad behavior, even as it seems pervasive. There are still affirming random acts of kindness being undertaken, as with the K-Mart angels making layaway payments across the nation.

The business lesson?  Only those organizations with a deep reservior of trust, rather than a foundation of sand, can withstand the very public backlash that's following these aberrant incidents.

Be Real and Get Real People! (Companies are people too, at least in this instance.)  In 2012, just be trustworthy.  Please don't waste our time and your money trying to manufacture trust.  Invest in earning it.  There's a much better return.  

Marketing guru Seth Godin nailed it in his blog post homage to Steven Colbert, "Trustiness."

 It's incredibly difficult to build a civil society on the back of "read the fine print...." When we have to spend all our time watching our back and working with lawyers, it's far more challenging to get anything done--and it makes building a business and a brand infinitely more difficult.
The question that needs to be asked by the marketer is, "are we doing this to create the appearance of trust, or is this actually something trustworthy, something we're proud to do?"
 The public is watching and they will out the fake, the false and the disingenuous. 

Don't dream it, be it. 

Best of the Season and Happy New Year to all.

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