Trust, creativity and permission : Three tenets of marketing

by Ashvini on January 8, 2013 · 2 comments

in Business,My Personal Thoughts

Long time back I wrote a post about Customer expectations: once set, you may not take them away.

Instagram in the recent news lost about a quarter of its customer, after it announced that it was making a major change to privacy policy. Since then the company has retracted the changes but the damage is done.

It is really hard to create a business out of something that you once gave free. I for example would probably lose some of the readers if I decide to outsource the content writing. Then the articles would not articulate my thoughts . People would think that I am neglecting it.

A case in the point

Recently I was told by my satellite TV operator that I, who was once a privileged customer  of theirs and  thus I was used to receive some of the services for free , am no more a privileged customer. Though I continue to pay the same amount of money from last many years, I seem to have fallen off the favour. Probably I am not profitable enough. As a customer , I hate the demotion. Even though they may be right on profitability part, they no longer have me as their goodwill ambassador.

Here is what I think they could do

Instead they could have just told me that my services are free but I can only avail them fewer times a year. They could have used some creativity in delivering the bad news, so as not to make me feel unwanted . Instead I get a newsletter stating that I am taken off the privilege list. Well thank you very much!!

On the other hand a hotel company that offered me a silver card ( one notch higher than the bottom most ) never took it back even even though I am not making that many purchases from them ( Yes, economy hurts not only businesses but their customers too). I have not received any “newsletter” from them about it yet.

Problem is with the marketing

The problem is with the way marketing is done. The customer  is lured with great fanfare and delicious offers. Once he or she gets sucked in, companies realize that they over promised. Then they worry about profitability.  Some of them become greedy and start using customer information for unethical targeting, without their permission. In the end they just use lazy approach to marketing like my satellite TV operator.

It is really hard work to make money both offline and on internet. People are getting more wary of the scams and fraudulent products. They rely more on friends and family to help them decide on the product they want to buy. A good friend will never advise a wrong purchase. To sell to people , companies need to win the trust. And it does not stop there. They need to keep the trust alive. That will make “making money” quite hard. Instead of being desperate to sell companies need to be creative , engage and communicate with their customers. They need to ask their permission before their data can be used.

That is what Seth Godin terms as “Permission Marketing”. ( Amazon affiliate link )

A fear is that permission marketing will provide for lesser sales. In fact it may lead to higher value sales and repeat buys (both because of higher trust factor), which are essential to long term business. Look, the need to purchase has not gone away. People still need to buy software and desk or gift jewellery to someone. What they don’t want is someone surreptitiously looking at them while they are not on their guard and then offering them based on their activity at that time.

Marketing is about more trust and not lesser

A privacy-breach-blocking add-on to my browser tells me that I have blocked over 5000 attempts to track me in one month by ad agencies. That is a lot of attempts. Why not instead ask me about my interests? Why not then offer me the right set of products? Why not tell the gullible public in advance that they are being tracked?

I do have tracking codes on my blog but it is for my own analysis. There is no ad network on this blog tracking the reader, only analytics code and social media buttons/badges to help me make my blog better. I feel I can still do better and I am exploring those ways.

The point is simple. It is a choice between short term and long term business.

  • A company in for a long term will probably like to under-promise and over-deliver.
  • They would like to keep their customers at top
  • They take creative approach to marketing which is not intrusive
  • They build on the trust they have gathered over time.

So here are three important factors of marketing

  1. Trust building
  2. Creativity
  3. Permission

If you feel that the post makes sense or you have something to add, why don’t you do so below.

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Zalando June 1, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Well, Mr.Ashvini your are absolutely right. Creating business out of something that was free before wont work. For instance, Whatsapp and many other application providers are now charging people on the annual basis to continue with their service. People are instead moving to other applications, which have similar functionality. So, There is no use later retracting the policies back , because once a customer is lost, its lost forever.

Adrienne January 10, 2013 at 12:06 am

Hey Ashvini,

I think the debacle with Instagram was a perfect example of a company screwing up royally but the damage has been done.

I was commenting earlier this week on a blog post that was kind of “in your face”. He was trying to make a point but when his list received his email notification of the post, a good bit of them took it personally and immediately opted-out. Heck, as I began to read the first few paragraphs I was thinking he was talking about me too until I kept on reading.

We recently had a conversation about this in our comments back and forth and I had mentioned to him that if he had a better relationship with his list, they wouldn’t have taken it personally. Now he can’t go back because they opted out.

Think before you put it out there because your representation of what you’re doing can definitely come back to bite you.


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