Trust in the nation, or the pub at least

On the day of the general election, this months challenge aptly looks at the role of trust, what do you promise and do you deliver?

As England scrape through against Slovakia in the Euros, and face up to  a likely exit at the hands of a very well organised Switzerland, today is the day for all of us to head to the ballot boxes that have sprung up around the country like mayflies.

It’s the first time for a long time that a result has felt nailed on (the election, not England), and equally in my passing chats with those around me, in the most part people seem apathetic about the prospect of seeing genuine change.

It also feels like most of us are fairly disillusioned by the people holding powerful positions in the world. It really smacks when a US presidential debate (with two male candidates and a combined age of nearly 170), reaches its zenith with comments about sleeping with prostitutes or how far they can drive a golf ball.

Hilariously, I must also add this, this morning an (unnamed) local politician had hired some people to hold aloft his banners at a busy set of local traffic lights, any perceived increase in reputation on their part will likely be dented by the fact that one of them had a beer can in their hand at 8am.

I’m looking forward to a future where we have some diversity from old, white men at the top of every organisation, and we need to ask questions about why fewer than a third of UN member states have ever had a female leader.

When I planned this series of articles, the topic for this month was trust. The election was a coincidence but relevant, as politicians have been eroding trust for a long time. I believe this is mainly because the narrative always tries to support every cause.

We aren’t naive; we understand it’s impossible to balance a budget while saying yes to everything. However, soundbites that support every cause tend to win over those who are willing to stand for something even if it comes at the expense of others. 

Perhaps this is because tame agreement attracts less negative press than taking a firm stand.

For many decades in the world of mass media advertising, the loudest message was the winner, in recent decades the progressive organisations have niched their messages, rallied a crowd and stood for something – politics in this country is steeped in tradition, the same old rhetoric gets spewed, but I am not sure its fit to survive the next generation of leaders. 

I am optimistic for a realist, someone with a vision that has some “No’s” in it.

Saying yes to everything creates an alignment, but this is the river mouth of trust at best, and only by continuing that journey together upstream (and perhaps against the tide at times) do we deepen our relationships to a point of trust.

Even as we navigate a world where we welcome the robots into our workflows (in the short term at least) buying from a person will still be our preference over buying from the Sales Gertie 9000.

Buying is all about trust, and my belief of what marketing professionals are here to do is to sit in the gap between two people trying to come to an agreement, mediating an exchange of promises for resources with the aim to help them both come out the other side of the transaction smiling.

This is why marketing touches every contact point, and influences every sense, because long before the transaction we build or erode trust. This is why we talk as much about messaging and values in our brand development as we do about visuals.

Because values can’t fib like a whizzy widget or a glossy visual: these don’t create a meaningful connection, they supplement it. 

The connection is a human one, judged by the promise and investment made by the other person, and whether they deliver on either.

I believe nature works this out through its own symbiotic relationships: mutualism, commensalism, parasitism. Simply put, it’s either both parties getting a mutual benefit, one party getting a benefit and the other not losing anything and a parasitic relationship where one gains at the expense of the other.

These are an evolutionary choice.

If we imagine our own business relationships through the lens of an episode of Planet Earth, how would Attenborough observe and narrate them?

digital challenge trust

For a decade I have been asked “what platform is the best?” It’s a bit like, “what pub is the best?” The answer is the same, the one that fits you like a comfy pair of slippers with the people you want to connect with.

Twitter/X wasn’t the platform for me long before it became Elons latest gadget, but if my customers are there then it’s on me to invest the energy to go and meet them there. 

The village pub is a magical place because it’s not about beer or food, but connection with its own little community. Communities have shared values, local needs and let people close that they can trust. In return we all help each other.

If we know we need trust to gain customers.

If we know we need to commit over the middle line to earn trust.

Then we know we need a gift.

A gift could be expertise, time, resources or all of those things, and it may take a long time before someone needs it. 

A Hard sell doesn’t go down so well at the pub, but stories do.

So, what is your digital pub? Perhaps you could consider…

  • Do you have a newsletter packed with value for your audience?
  • Do you run events with no personal agenda, but a shared cause?
  • Is your outreach on social media offering value or creating noise?
  • Do you have a customer facing whatsapp/slack group?
  • Do you offer nonjudgmental support on your community forums?

There is something about you that is projected so boldly that others trust you, because you turn up and wear your heart on your sleeve.

Unpicking shared values will create genuine connection with your customers, empower you to do good and feel better for it.

The medium of the pub has been around for a long time, it isn’t going anywhere soon, but there are plenty of other digital mediums to choose from. 

This newsletter & the Positive Nature Network is my pub, the beer is cold and reassuringly expensive, the food is michelin star and locally sourced, come on in and meet the community.

Do you know anyone who may be interested in this project?

Click to share: