Episode 56 of The Informed Life podcast features a conversation with brand and content strategist Margot Bloomstein. Margot is the author of Content Strategy at Work, and now she’s written a new book called Trustworthy: How the Smartest Brands Beat Cynicism and Bridge the Trust Gap. Our conversation focused on the subject of the latter: building trust.
Specifically, the book deals with how organizations (businesses, governments, non-profits, etc.) can build trust with their customers and prospects in a time when trust in institutions, politicians, organizations, and even capitalism itself, is waning. As Margot diagnosed the situation,
We’ve lost our gut instincts and our ability to evaluate information from multiple sources and to feel good about our information analysis and our understanding of the world. And with that kind of outlook, people are shaky and susceptible to bad information. We’ve grown, sort of immobilized in our ability to make decisions. And that’s why we see how sales cycles take longer and so much marketing falls flat.
But, she emphasized,
business can be a force for good, beyond merely corporate-social responsibility efforts and corporate philanthropy.
Among other things, this requires that what organizations do and say (and how they say it) aligns with their values. Connecting with these values is essential. As Margot put it,
organizations need to know what they stand for so that they can put that stake in the ground and manifest their values visually and verbally.
Such alignment also calls for mindful brand management, and Trustworthy offers a framework for organizations wanting to build trust through their actions and communications. At one point in our conversation, I mentioned the word ‘authenticity,’ which elicited an interesting response:
that’s a term that we throw around a lot; that’s a term [that] marketers love to throw around. Who wouldn’t want to be authentic? And I always wonder, authentic to what? Do you know who you are? Know thyself first, and then you can determine, “well, how do we align our actions with our values?” Because that’s how we measure authenticity: it’s the distance between our actions and our words, all of that external stuff and our values. And I think for many organizations, they can jump into kind of the national conversation, into the international conversation, around many of those social issues and say, “here’s what we’re doing. Here’s why we support this. Here’s what we’re doing internally. And here’s what we’re doing externally to make this better for everyone.” To put a stake in the ground. And they can do it building on that long-term, authentic investment in their values.
These brief excerpts don’t do justice to the whole of our conversation, which offers a good overview of key points in Trustworthy. The book will be released tomorrow; check it out.
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