We came from a world where selling a product or service was all about how you positioned yourself and how you ‘sold’ your company, through advertising, marketing and PR where you told people what you thought they should know about your product. It was really all about you and how good you were. Now we are in a different global world where this is not enough, a world where the empowered consumer will only buy your services or products if he agrees with you and likes who you are, where your corporate values must be a match to his or her own ideas and they must be transparent and known about.
This is a big change and companies need to get their heads around what this means for them. Quality and price is not enough if what you say lacks credibility.
Consumers have rights and they now think about why they should put their trust in your company, and, as a company, you need to step up to this and make it known who you are, how you think, how you treat others and what your views on the world are.
It’s happening at all levels and forcing some companies who have lost consumer trust to re-think the strategy.
So here are some tips on what your company should be doing in PR terms to regain your consumers, clients and prospects trust and make sure you keep it.
- Analyze carefully all aspects of what you are doing and how you are communicating to your audiences, your ‘voice’. Make sure all your company (people who work for you, suppliers and other audiences) understand your viewpoint and values and identify with them. Include your audiences in the analysis so that ideas are not imposed, but understood and complied with. Define your position on issues like environment, social issues, even politics. This may be a risk, but being neutral is often seen as aligning with the ‘bad guys’.
- Look at your social network presence and take into account that some social networks have come under severe criticism. Be careful that consumers don’t see you as part and parcel of these errors, so put transparency high on your ‘to do’ list because trust is tantamount. The culture you breathe in your company needs to speak of authenticity and transparency, this will make consumers feel their needs are being met and less likely to feel they’re always being ‘sold to’.
- Get your name to appear and tell people who you are in established newspapers and publications. Get noticed and get your opinion out there, support your corporate values and issues which you think interest and please your audiences. In our era of ‘fake news’, people still trust traditional and digital media with solid reputations.
- Make sure your company is meeting its consumers or clients on their terms by making your website and social pages a very positive experience. If a review is left or customer help asked for, ensure that they leave your site or social page feeling reassured and feeling you care about them, that their opinion matters. But this must be real, this is not just the face, this translates into real actions and is demonstrated. Know that each consumer ‘touch’ is an opportunity to humanize your company making it easier for consumers to put their trust into what you do.
- Try to engage with ‘earned content’. If you see a consumer interacting with your product, use this, making it public (always after asking and receiving permission) so that others can identify with the action and trust in it.
- Offer useful information to your consumers or clients related to your product, service or sector. You could for example use a specific place on your website and social platforms for your customers, clients to ask what they want to learn and you could ask them what they would like to know about.
- Last of all, keep your promises. Do what you say you are going to do and live your corporate values making them deep rooted in your company’s ADN.
To conclude, flip the coin, be more aware as a company of what the needs and desires of your consumers, clients or prospects are and try to meet them.