Building Consumer Trust To Earn A Greater ROI

Trust Filter by Intersection Consulting
I was at the gym yesterday unwinding after an awesome Spinning® class when I overheard some workout friends discussing how some businesses are just better at building consumer trust with both action and words.  You see, our gym is under new management and poor customer communications are a very hot topic for many of us now.  It might have been the feel good endorphins from the class; but even on a day off, I love hearing non-marketers describe what makes up good marketing communications. It seemed the criteria valued the most were “Honesty”, “Credibility”, “Responsive Customer Communication”, “Accountability” and “Transparency”. They are 100% correct and even more so in today’s socially connected world.
The discussion also provided with me a new audience to tell my favorite cautionary tale on how NOT to market your business.  Several years ago, I was flying to Los Angeles one early morning when a fellow passenger arrived late and was clearly hung over.  He flopped into the seat next to me and took a badly needed nap. He woke up 3 hours later dehydrated and needing lots of water.  Once rehydrated, “Ron” informed me he was a celebrity chiropractor to the stars and knew he could help re-align my body with a few adjustments. I am pretty immune to spam advertising and junk mail.  However, travelling at 500 miles per hour with no place to hide is another matter. At least if I had been on my computer I could have easily hit “delete”.  Ron gave me his business card and told me to call him for an appointment. I looked at his business card and could not help but notice several of his listed clients were well-known BUT also deceased! Based on this encounter, I would say Ron blew an opportunity to gain a potential client. It was also a good thing for him social media was in its infancy because stories like this now travel faster than any airplane with just the press of a button.

Consumers now in the driver’s seat

Once upon a time brands were successful without consumers knowing anything except the advertising and cost when making buying decisions.  Social Media has now empowered consumers with both knowledge and the cojones to hold brands accountable. Everything is transparent and now it the companies who have no place to hide. Consumers are savvy on everything from corporate manufacturing policies in Third World Countries to product ingredients, or deciding if the brand successfully delivers on its claims or promises:  Sketchers and Nutella have recently been sued by U.S consumers for using misleading or false advertising claims and found guilty as charged.

The new reality of a modern marketplace means brands and even smaller practitioners like Ron need to get on board. Building trust is not complicated, but it does take a great deal of work and skill to get it right. If you hope to build trust and the ability to collaborate with customers the messaging is just as my gym buddies mentioned: “truthful”, “credible” “responsive”, “accountable” and “transparent”.

Be the one who does it best and watch your ROI grow!

Google has the enviable claim of being rated by FORTUNE Magazine as the #1 most trustworthy company in the world for the fourth year in a row.  When a company garners that kind of trust it makes them even more productive and can actually help propel their business forward. Google went public in 2004. Over the next three years, the stock proceeded to blast from $100 to $700 per share. And in 2013, that stock is poised to hit $1,000 a share. Great Place to Work®, a global human resources consulting company, has spent 30 years identifying the tangible business benefits for companies considered trustworthy.  Case studies of specific workplaces demonstrated added industry-specific benefits, including reduced shrinkage, improved track records on safety, higher patient satisfaction, better quality job applicants, and more. So, regardless of the size of your company or how long you have been in the marketplace, make sure your brand promise is clear and you can be held accountable for it. Customers become loyal fans when they feel they can trust a company and that trust must be earned. Consistency in your brand messaging and fostering trust cultivates loyalty and hopefully fosters brand advocacy.  Be the one who does it best and reap the rewards.

CC BY-NC 2.0 Trust Filter, a photo by Intersection Consulting


Devine intervention of social media at the 2013 Papal Conclave


The papal conclave is one of the Roman Catholic Church’s most sacred and secretive traditions. So how does a tradition centuries old fit with technology, 24-hour instant media and social media?  Well, you don’t have to be Catholic to be impressed by the positive impact technology played during the 2013 Papal Conclave. Leading up to, and especially the past two days, much of the world remained connected to the selection process of a new pope.

Tech meets Old World- The creation of a virtual Papal Conclave


In the past, the College of Cardinals conducted the business of electing a pope exclusively behind the closed doors of the Sistine Chapel. Any sharing of news or details took hours, and in some cases, a few days to disseminate.  But times are a changing in our socially connected world and the Vatican granted unprecedented access to the conclave workings up to the voting process.  There were even large LED screens set up to keep the tens of thousands gathered outside in St. Peter’s Square informed.

Social media apps – Adopt a Cardinal

Thanks to social media,  a variety of creative apps and websites popped up creating a virtual papal conclave. It created a global following and a groundswell of emotion as a record number of people a connection to their religion.  As an example, over half a million people joined and provided their e-mail address to a German-based The website, nicknamed the “Adopt a Cardinal” e-mailed participants the profile of a cardinal to “adopt” in prayer throughout the conclave and for three days after the election.



Cellphone users were able to subscribe to a“Pope Alarm” app to receive a vibrating message at the first sign of white smoke billowing from the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel and tens of thousands people in Rome participated in a form of a flashmob (but with purpose) by immediately racing to St. Peter’s Square to become part of history and watch the introduction of the new pope  to the world.


Fake Twitter accounts popped up for the papal chimney (@PapalSmokeStack), the Sistine Seagull that temporarily rested on that chimney stack (SistineSeagull @SistineSeagull Hanging out at Conclave. Loving Life. And Cheetos), and for Pope Francis I such as Jorge M. Bergoglio @JMBergoglio.  And there were the assorted Internet memes and an immediate update for the 2013 Papal Conclave on Wikipedia. When Pope Francis I sent his first official tweet yesterday it set Twitter atwitter. It seems the pope used capital letters throughout the tweet.

Re-energizing the religious brand

 As we have seen, there is sometimes an upside and downside risk for brands that are scrutinized through the social media lens. In the case of the Roman Catholic Church brand it has only reaped the rewards.  Social media facilitated an unprecedented and rapid evangelism of Catholicism (broadcasting and dissemination of information) rekindling the connection between the Church and many of their followers without having to reach them via the pulpit. The irony: the conclave election results were initially communicated via the low-tech method of  a white plume of smoke announcing the “habum papum”- We have a Pope.

Target has a different bullseye on its back in Canada


After much anticipation, discount giant Target finally arrived in Canada yesterday, and for some, to mixed pricing reviews.  Although the iconic red and white interior stores were visually identical to their U.S counterparts, pricing audits conducted by the media and savvy consumers, showed Walmart offered sharper pricing for many of the comparable items taking some wind out of Target’s promotional slogan of “Expect More. Pay Less”.  The soft launch took place in smaller markets in Ontario as part of a pilot program for a phased rollout of the Target brand across Canada.

Canadians are fans of “Tarjay”

Target has planned an aggressive entry into Canada with close to 105 locations slated for opening in 2013.  The  kinks will eventually be worked out. The Target brand (affectionately known in Canada as “Tarjay”) is well-known and already loved by Canadians who live in communities with easy shopping access to American towns and cities dotting the border between both countries. According to The Toronto Star, Target already enjoys a 70% awareness among Canadian consumers, of whom 30,000 already hold a Target-branded U.S. credit card. Even before yesterday’s store openings, the chain had created a seismic impact on the Canadian retail landscape.

While many critics were quick to point out Target’s pricing gaps, nobody is discounting this savvy discounter.  Target is here for the long haul and will fine-tune its pricing to stay a formidable competitor.

Won’t you be my neighbour? 


In the quest to win the hearts and purse strings of Canadians, Target has become the first company to ever license the “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” song from the iconic PBS  ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighbourhood’ show and changed the words to “Can’t wait to meet you neighbour”.  The song is even sung by the Canadian band, Dragonette.  The TV spot communicates Target has spent the past few years learning about Canada and the use of different regional visuals shows it’s working on earning Canadian-wide acceptance.  Canadians will be accepting of slightly higher prices as long as they get the same shopping experience as in the U.S with bright clean stores, wider aisles, trendy products and unique designer styles not available anywhere else. Target, not Target Light will win the hearts of Canadians and their wallets.

The future becomes even more friendly-social media predictions for 2013


New Year’s has always been a time for reflection and looking forward to what will be. Many of us (almost 40%) plan on improving, progressing and bettering ourselves personally as well as professionally. It is with this in mind that I sit down to write my first blog of 2013.

Professional Growth

In reflection, 2012 was my year of professional growth. I stopped talking about Social Media and started walking the walk with my  own marketing blog. I also committed to being more active on Twitter and LinkedIn and sharing my professional insights and observations. And I created my Pinterest page.

2013 Predictions and Prophecies

Many of my fellow marketing bloggers have also wasted no time wading into the marketing prognostication pool for 2013.  It seems we all agree 2013 will be exciting and subject to rapid change. Perhaps the key takeaway? The consumer will continue to stay in control of the mediums and how they interact with the messaging,

Here are some other interesting trends to take note for the coming year:

• Mobile marketing has finally come of age and maturity due to smartphones and the mobile internet. It will no longer be
considered an after thought in marketing campaigns and tactics.

• There is no much more to social media life than Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.  To reach your customer/audience, an increased
focus will be paid to Google+ and to more non-traditional social channels like SlideShare, Pinterest, Flickr/Picasa/Instagram
and discussion forums and question areas.

• Companies are recognizing and embracing the power of retail time marketing content to build deeper relationships with
customers and increase sales. Newsjacking will be key to being found on-line and delivering the appropriate message.

•  Companies will convert consumers into friends and friends into customers by building their web presence. Once they receive
permission and validation these companies will then develop the appropriate tactics to maximize that dialogue.

• Companies with large brand footprints such as Nike and Coca-Cola are bringing their social media and content marketing
activities in-house as opposed to leaving it to their digital agencies to handle. In doing so, they are now able to build a more intimate relationship with their social community and produce the editorial content they would like to tell.

• Integrated social marketing gains further momentum and the use of e-mail continues to remain strong but there will be an increased  focus personalization and real time communication. As an example, you now receive location-based phone texts and  e-mails as you walk by a retail location with a special offer. The opportunity is personalized and the message delivery is timely.

• Some new application or platform will come along to energize the marketplace.  It may be just like Pinterest or Instagram. At one point, few people knew of these applications, and then suddenly, everyone was using it.

What are your predictions for 2013?


Art or Advertising? – Cartier’s Christmas Winter Tale

Art or Advertising? – Cartier’s Christmas Winter Tale.

Art or Advertising? – Cartier’s Christmas Winter Tale

Move over cute and cuddly Coca-Cola Polar Bears.  Santa Claus you can now take Christmas holidays.  Cartier has launched another strikingly beautiful ” L’Odysée de Cartier” TV ad once again using Jaguars to get consumers into the spirit of shopping and giving.

The first Cartier ” L’ Odysée  film” launched just into time for Valentines 2012.  Cartier’s advertising agency Paris-Based Marcel Worldwide (part of the Publicis Groupe Network) created the first cinema epic to fete the company’s 165 year history, values and inspiration and  artistic scope.  It  went viral and has since earned over 16 million views on You Tube alone.

Nutcracker Suite For Adults – Bridge Between Dream and Reality 

In this most recent instalment, 2 Jaguar cubs play hide and seek in a snow-laden forest of Fir trees filled with discoveries and precious gifts from where else? –  Cartier Jewellers. Although the gifts are definitely out of my snack bracket, the ad is visual stunning using CGI technology and film to showcase Cartier’s baubles.  This is certainly not your average brand sell.

I think this is the most artistic and beautiful uses of product placement I have seen. What do you think of the commercial?

Alex Bogusky:Anti Soft Drink Activist Changes His Mind

In one of my October posts I wrote about creative adman Alex Bogusky turning the iconic Coca-Cola Classic Polar Bears against the carbonated soft drink industry.  In his 4 minute animated video, Papa Polar Bear gets a host of diseases linked to sugar consumption of soft drinks.  In the end, the video encourages Polar Bears (people) to pour their drinks into the ocean.

You can imagine my surprise when I read in Advertising Age this morning that Alex Bogusky and his advertising agency, COMMON, are now teaming up with a soft drink competitor. However, this time they want you to drink the stuff….not pour it out.

SodaStream -Better choice or just another Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing?

According to Advertising Age, COMMON has just developed SodaStream’s first global campaign.  As the company’s name implies, it sells a do-it-yourself home beverage carbonization system that turns tap water and syrup into carbonated sodas. In other words, it produces sweetened soft drinks just like Coke and Pepsi.

SodaStream claims its syrups have a third of the calories of traditional sodas and do not use high-fructose corn syrup or aspartame thereby promoting health and wellness.  They also market themselves as being anti-wate and environmentally friendly because their re-usable containers eliminate the number of  beverage cans and plastic bottles in landfills. The anti-waste angle I get.  The health and wellness is a real stretch.

Double Standard

It seems to me there is a double standard and a loss of credibility by COMMON and SodaStream. In October your advertising agency takes a pretty strong stand against carbonated beverages and warns consumers the product is poisonous. And fast forward 1 brief month later, that same agency is set to launch an $18 million advertising campaign extolling the virtues of making your own carbonated beverages at home. Now, drinking those products are okay and are even considered good for you. This really validates that old adage about putting your money where your mouth is and does not reflect well on advertising practitioners. Apparently when you are not being paid by soft drink companies you have ethics and can be a social activist. When you have a paying client who plays in the same sandbox you are now somehow able to justify and promote the product category. It sounds pretty hypocritical to me.