How do you know whether to trust someone? How do you communicate that you are trustworthy? Trust is imperative. If you don’t have trust, you have nothing. And that goes for both interpersonal relationships as well as for brands. Baron Manett, marketer and founder of Per Se Brand Experience shares his insights on the significance of trust.

SHOWNOTES

Contents

  • 5 Key Learnings
  • References & Links
  • Andrea’s Commentary
  • Interview Transcript
  • Conclusion

Five Key Learnings

1.Trust is defined as confidence in or dependence on a person or entity.

  • The context for trust is always future oriented.
  • The tendency to trust others is a strong predictor of subjective well-being.
  • We are more likely to trust authority figures, entities that are trusted by others, people who are similar to ourselves, and established brands

2.Trust is critical for both interpersonal relationships, as well as our relationships with brands.

  • Trust is indispensable in friendship, love, and families, never mind in politics and business!
  • Trust also relates to influence and persuasion.
  • A brand is a promise. A brand’s actions (it’s quality, performance, it’s corporate partnerships and affiliations) are the proof points that support the promise.

3.Trust is asymmetrical.

  • It takes a lot of work to establish trust, and even more to build it back after it has been violated.
  • Again, trust is very similar for brands and for human relationships.
  • Baron Manett on brand transgressions: Trust is “one of those things where it takes it takes a long time to build it, it takes a nanosecond to lose it. And it’s a lot more expensive to have to rebuild it.”
  • Baron reminds us to use our manners: please and thank you and when there’s a transgression, real apologies.

4.Three elements of trust: authenticity, logic, and empathy.

  • Based on HBS Professor Frances Frei’s trust framework. Chances are, if you don’t trust someone, they may be inauthentic, they may be illogical, or they may lack empathy and not be acting in your best interests.

 5.Trust and body language – three things: posture, hands, and eyes.

  • Posture: sit up straight. Take up lots of space. Don’t cross your arms or your legs. Do lean in towards the other person and mirror them.
  • Hands: keep them visible.
  • Eyes. The eyes are critical.  There’s eye contact, there’s smiling with your eyes. And watch the eyebrows. There’s always something going on when the eyebrows are raised.

 


References & Links

Baron Manett, Per Se Brand Experience, & Ensemble

TRUST Resources & References

Talk About Talk  


Dr. Andrea’s Commentary

Welcome to Talk About Talk, the communication focused podcast that provides us with the knowledge, strategies and confidence to enrich our relationships and enhance our career success. I’m Dr. Andrea Wojnicki. Yes, you can call me Andrea.

This week, we’re Talking About TRUST.  Do you trust me?  I hope so. 

Do you ever get a feeling with some people that you don’t trust them, but you aren’t sure why?   After listening to this podcast episode, you’ll feel much more confident in determining whether you can trust someone.  And you’ll learn how to communicate that you are trustworthy. 

I’m going to share some background on trust – what it is, who we trust, and how we communicate trustworthiness.  Then I’m going to introduce you to our guest expert, Baron Manett, a brilliant marketer the founder of Per Se Brand Experience.  Baron has a few things to say about trust. Then I’ll wrap up with the key learnings.

So AS ALWAYS, you don’t need to take notes!  Just sit back and listen

Alright – let’s do this.

If you’re a regular listener, you probably know where I’m going to start – definitions.  What is trust? 

Well, trust can be defined as confidence in or dependence on a person or entity. That entity could be a company, a political party, a service provider, a brand, anything, really, that you might or might not have confidence in or be dependent on.

The context for trust is always future oriented.  That makes sense. Trust relates to our prediction about expectations of future uncertainty.

As you will hear in a moment, our guest expert Baron Manet says that brands are a promise – which is also future oriented.

The tendency to trust others is a strong predictor of subjective well-being.  Of course there are many caveats and interactions associated with this effect, but in case you’re not a psychologist, this means that people who are trusting are generally happier.

That’s just one reason why trust is important.  Other reasons why trust is important are related to how people interact and work together.  If you think about it, trust is indispensable in friendship, love, and families, never mind in politics and business! We don’t want to spend time socially with people who we don’t trust, right?. And obviously we wouldn’t do business with them.  Trust also relates to influence and persuasion.  If no one trusts you, whether in a personal or professional context, you’ll have no influence.

Who do we trust? 

The answer is that we make a lot of assumptions about who we trust.  We have to.  We have to make predictions all the time, right? In prehistoric days, when we used to live and interact with small groups, small villages. It was pretty simple to keep track of who to trust and who not to trust.  Now we live in big cities and interact with massive corporations.  How do we know who to trust?  And then there’s the internet, where more and more commerce is being transacted through a keyboard and a screen. Who do we trust?

Of course, we are more likely to trust authority figures. And established brands.  You will hear more about this from our guest expert, Baron Manett, in a moment.

We also trust those who are trusted by others. That’s why testimonials and endorsements can be powerful, right?  Even a testimonial from a stranger provides some proof of trustworthiness.  But testimonials or endorsements from experts (Like “4 out of 5 dentists say…) can be even more persuasive.

We are also more likely to trust people with whom we have things in common.  Psychologists call this ingroup favouritism. We are more likely to trust people in our ingroup versus our outgroup. So — if you are seeking trust from someone, you might highlight what you have in common with them. 

Another way of saying this is that we are more likely to trust people when we perceive less difference between them and ourselves.  Let me give you an example from research.  Think about income inequality.  In countries where there’s a significant disparity in terms of income (such as Singapore), research shows that people are generally less trusting of one another.  Whereas in countries such as Norway and Sweden, where there’s less income disparity, people are more trusting.

In preparation for this podcast, I watched a few TEDTalks that focus on Trust.  Interestingly, a few of these TEDTalks highlighted Airbnb, and how Airbnb designs for trust.   Here is something to think about. Consider this: People may throw their towels on the floor in a hotel.  They might even steal things.  But they probably wouldn’t do that when we are in an Airbnb, right? We are all rating each other on Airbnb.  So we are more likely to trust one another.  Kind of sad, but true.

Communicating trust and interpreting trustworthiness.  This is the fun part.  The prescription. What to say and What to do. And what to look for in others. How do we signal that we are trustworthy?

There’s a great TEDTalk that I recommend you listen to by Harvard Business School professor Frances Frei where she talks about firms building trust.  She focuses particularly on Uber, a firm that has had significant trust issues.  But Professor Frei’s model of trust works for humans too. She says there are three legs necessary for trust to stand up.  If one of the legs is wobbly, trust fails.  Those legs are: authenticity, logic, and empathy.  She says:

“If you sense that I am authentic, you are much more likely to trust me. If you sense that I have real rigor in my logic, you are far more likely to trust me. And if you believe that my empathy is directed towards you, you are far more likely to trust me. When all three of these things are working, we have great trust. But if any one of these three gets shaky, if any one of these three wobbles, trust is threatened.”

I love this simple framework: authenticity, logic, and empathy.  The next time I’m feeling like I’m not sure why my radar is telling me not to trust someone, I’m first going to see if one of these three things – authenticity. logic, or empathy. One of them is probably is missing.

It works the other way too.  If you are trying to get someone to trust you, you might want to reinforce first that you are authentic, second that you are logical and rigourous, and third that you are empathetic toward the person. 

There are also many body language cues that signal trustworthiness.  Things we should try to remember ourselves and look for in others.  Many of them were highlighted in Talk About Talk podcast episode #1 BODY LANGUAGE with Cynthia Barlow.  That’s a fun episode if you haven’t heard it already.  Let me run through a few things to keep in mind in terms of body language and trustworthiness in particular.  I read several lists, and most of the points come down to three things: posture, hands, and eyes. 

POSTURE. Good posture conveys authority, and helps people trust you. Sit up or stand up, and don’t be afraid to take up lots of space.  Don’t slouch.  But also remember that it’s ok to lean toward the other person and even to mirror their posture and their gestures to demonstrate that you are listening and engaged. One big DON’T here – don’t cross your arms or even your legs.  Be open.  Crossed arms look as if you’re closed off or distant.

HANDS.  This is a simple one.  Hidden hands may signal that you’re hiding something.  So keep your hands out of your pockets.  Keep your hands visible, maybe on the table, if you’re seated at a table, and people will be more likely to trust you.

EYES. We’ve all heard that eye contact is key.  But here’s the thing.  Have you ever been talking with someone and they are looking around?  It might be that they aren’t interested, or it might be that they are hiding something and feeling shifty.  So just look at the person you’re talking to!  And smile!  A real smile.  The kind that creates wrinkles around your eyes.  Then, consider your eyebrows. Apparently there  are three main emotions that make your eyebrows go up: surprise, worry, and fear. So if you’re trying to gauge whether someone is trustworthy and their eyebrows are going up, ask yourself, it’s fair to ask – what the heck is going on?

That’s it for body language and trust.  It’s posture, hands and eyes.

Now I’d like to introduce you to our guest expert, Baron Manett.  Baron is one of Canada’s leading brand builders and a frequent speaker on brand experience, content marketing and audience engagement.  Recall at the beginning, when I was defining trust, I said that trust can be defined as confidence in or dependence on a person or an entity.  That entity could be a brand. 

Baron is the founder of Per Se Brand Experience, a brand consultancy focused on helping organizations reach, relate and grow successfully and sustainably.  His work has contributed to the marketing success of many brands, including:  RBC, Visa, Conagra, Unilever, Maserati, CIBC, BMO, Harris Bank, D+H, Ontario’s Ministry of Education, and TD Bank. Baron is an active marketing industry mentor and supporter and he has founded and chaired several Canadian Marketing Association’s conferences. He is also the Co-founder of Ensemble (www.ensembleco.com), a quarterly content series highlighting the future of communication, talent and brands.   And, Baron is also a Professor of Marketing at the Seneca School of Business in Toronto where his work is focused on audience behaviour, content integration and brand experience.

Baron holds an MBA from the Schulich School of Business in Toronto, which is where I met Baron. He was one of my favourite MBA classmates.  We worked together on a group project and actually remained friends, which says a lot.  You could say that based on that experience, we trust each other.


Interview Transcript

Dr. Andrea Wojnicki: Thank you so much for joining us, Baron.

Baron Manett: Great to be here. Thanks for having me.

AW: So I’d like to start with definition and context. Talk to me about trust, but in a brand sense.

Baron Manett: It’s a timely topic, because there’s a lot of people who are questioning if trust even exists anymore – across spectrums, you know, political environments, even how we treat the foundations of marriage. So there’s a general consensus that somebody needs to step up. I think brands have a role now, because we are looking for entities to trust.  The way we that we at Per Se, my company, or the way I like to think about a brand, is: A brand is a promise. That’s all it really is. If you think about the products you use, and really, if you go up a level, for your listeners, the brands that you choose – one brand over another – often brands help us organize why we choose and buy one thing over another. Whether it’s a certain type of car, or certain type of jacket, or a place we travel, ….

AW: or even a toothpaste,

Baron Manett: Or even a toothpaste, right. Which is why you know, speaking of trust there, you really rarely see a toothpaste ad without an endorsement from some sort of dental council. Four out of five recommend. There was a time when four out of five doctors recommended Camel cigarettes as well, back in the day. So trust changes in the context of the time you live in. But right now, I mean, if we go back to that definition: brand is a promise. But really, we measure brands by our actions and experiences. So if you’ve ever gone to a restaurant that you love with your family, a restaurant that you go to all the time. And then one day, you have a bad service, a bad dish, a bad experience. It changes your thought of the restaurant. Where up until that moment you trusted them.

AW: they broke their promise?

Baron Manett: And they broke the promise, right. So the interesting thing about brands and trust is a promise for you to a brand and a promise to me for the same brand. Could be different. Right? You might wear a certain type of running shoe because it looks great. Whereas I might wear a certain type of running shoe because I need high performance workout for tennis.

AW: Or maybe the other way around.

Baron Manett: Yah.  I probably have that backwards. It looks great when I put my feet up. But you know, what we’re looking for in a brand is personal. And there’s all kinds of research and surveys, there’s trust surveys, and Edelman has something called the Trust Barometer. The University of Victoria does a trust study. So there’s all kinds of places that monitor and measure how trust sentiment is tracking. Because there’s, there’s good business behind it.

AW: And there’s more and more evidence of that.

Baron Manett: Yes, absolutely. You know, brands that we trust, we usually spend more, we usually spend more often. And we don’t mind paying a premium, rather than waiting for things to go on sale. Right. So on the flip side, it’s where brands that are in commodity businesses often are having trouble.

AW: So that reminds me of something when you said about “ brands are promises.” It made me think of something that I’ve been hearing a lot lately, which is brands are actually stories. What’s the distinction there?

Baron Manett:  I think it depends on the life of the brand. I mean, if a brand has come out in the last couple of years, they could have a story or could be building a story.  I think a goal for a successful brand is to build a great story. Those stories change. Cadillac had a storied past, right? If you were going to buy a luxury automobile in North America, one time it was Cadillac. Cadillac is looking to reconnect that story with younger audiences who aren’t familiar with their story. So I think a brand is the story. Promises are the proof points in those stores.

AW: So that made me think of something, which is –  storytelling is a little bit about the past, right? For example, luxury brands are trying to endow a story upon you about who you are. But the brand story is about the past, like your point about Cadillac. On the other hand, trust is the future. When I was doing the research on the construct of trust in general, they said trust is a future-oriented construct, because it’s your belief of whether they’re going to act in a dependable way in the future.

Baron Manett: Yes, I would agree with that. I think our degrees of strength in trust are based on proxies, often the past, you know, like I just did a quick update for 2019 on brands that are really scoring high in Canada on trust. Mountain Equipment Co Op. So it’s interesting that a co op, a cooperative-based business is number one, and trust absolutely makes sense.

AW: Right? It’s member based.

Baron Manett: There’s an element of socialism, if you will, there. So the transparency is built into that trust. So no wonder trust will be their brand. Like RBC, Shoppers Drug Mart. I sure hope we trust where we get our medication, right? Also, we can buy candy bars and chips there as well. Canadian Tire, a storied historical business in our country. Home Hardware: local, community based business, yes. Like they should be high on trust. Brands that are very large – Visa, RBC, banks that we trust. We trust these big institutions to help us with our dreams with our family, our lives, our retirement planning.

AW: I feel like that might be changing.

Baron Manett: It’s interesting, right? In the olden days, and by that I mean, you know, going to the bank with my parents, where my father, because he was the banker in our family, he would handle that business, which dates my age. There were, you know, big banks and successful banks have big buildings. And they are downtown. Now, a younger generation is asking, Do I need a bank? Right? Or what my parents said was a bank? Or do I need an older professional to manage my money? Or can an algorithm computer manage my money? Where there’s a transparency of what am I paying for? What am I getting? You know, does the payoff match the promise?

AW: Fascinating. Back in the early 1900s, people trusted people. And then over time, we started to trust in institutions, right. And now the pendulum is swinging back, and that may explain the Mountain Equipment Co Op phenomenon. You could order some of that stuff on Amazon, or you could you can go to mountain equipment, Co Op.

Baron Manett: Right, you know, you have more options now. For your listeners, where do you buy products that you feel great after you buy them? Versus – Oh, I bought it, and something doesn’t work. And now I have to call customer service, or in the case of like, like the cell phone companies or cable companies.

AW: I was just headed there myself. The telecoms.  The credit card companies.

Baron Manett: That is a very tough business airlines, and we often have a mistrust. Now, these companies have tremendous things that are probably out of their control. But again, if your brand is a promise, you can’t over promise and under deliver, because none of us have patience for that.

AW: Well put.  So you mentioned Edelman’s trust barometer. And I know different institutions in in various industries measure trust in different ways. But  what are some of the other main brand metrics? Volume and profit are kind of the ultimate goal of most people for profit organizations. But then there’s all these less tangible things that are being measured? How and where does trust fit in there?

Baron Manett: Well, I think there was a time… And I was lucky enough to know you in graduate school, right? So there was a time where we would be taught, yes, corporations exists to make up a profit, return on shareholder investment and those kinds of things. I look at it that trust is a way to build a business. So I look at trust as more of a foundational core of the business, I think there were businesses in the past that said, Okay, we’re going to make something really inexpensively make it look really expensive, and almost trick people into buying it. I think a time before the internet, you could possibly do these things, right? I don’t think there’s any where to hide anymore with the internet. So I think we’re connected and can share information and have access. Transparency can be a very good thing, because it sort of pulls back the curtain. The flip side of that’s a lot of us, as an audience, we often don’t read the sources, to the detail that we read online. And we’re so used to well, if it’s online, it must be true. But is it true? And so now you get into we did a session at my Speaker Series Ensemble last year on fake news and trusting brands, and where is there a role in research we were looking at? As government institutions drop in trust, there’s a gap that we are looking for someone or something to fill this void of trust. And audiences seem very open to the idea of companies could step in on the right circumstances and fill that trust gap. More and more I think that’s going to be shown is good business. So and again, going back to RBC, which was a client, we do work with my company and we’re proud to do so. And the transparency they have in their, in their diversity programs, and actually doing an annual report of how they’re doing as a company – from labor force, from the people they work with, who they collaborate with, how their environmental impact is. These are things that weren’t talked about widely 25 years ago. But now, you know, there are people who will make they’re banking choices on environmental responsibility. And kudos to them for having a guidebook to which to make their purchases. I think a lot of people still maybe aren’t as thoughtful in their purchases and say, I want x I’ll buy it. But more and more, you know, where’s that diamond mined from? Right? Where was my coffee packed? Where was my cheese made? You know, can I buy local. From my vantage point, as a marketer, I think that’s how you tell that story. I think Starbucks is a great offering. So the price has gone up, margins have gone up, consumer expectations are way up there. Yeah, I mean, I think probably because of some of the social platforms, you know, what I see on Instagram? Do I expect that in reality, so then you get into a whole different a whole other podcast around optics in reality?

AW: We can get a little bit into that here now, just in terms of online shopping. So it took a big leap for each of us the first time we entered our credit card, yes, into this internet machine.

Baron Manett: Right.

AW:And here we are now. And there’s clickbait. And there’s fake news. And there’s fake websites. And it’s another – it’s actually a good example where brands have an influence. They factor into purchase decisions. So am I going to put my credit card into a nike.com versus a site I’ve never heard of right? So what are some of the things that new brands–so say you’re a new competitor to Nike, and you want to establish trust in the marketplace? And particularly online? What are some signals that you are trustworthy?

Baron Manett: If you’re going to say something, then you got to do it. Like if you’re going to walk the talk, you gotta back it up. Show people. Trust is a muscle, right? So the more you keep your promises, the stronger you get. The minute you do not, it is down the tubes. We have no patience for anybody… no one wants to be lied to. No one wants to feel duped or tripped. I was just reading about how there’s a service now in Toronto, that you can go and take pictures of you sitting in what looks like a private jet. And then you Instagram that you’re on a jet. But you’re in a studio. There’s a lot of stuff that’s not real. And I think you have to be media literate, especially online media literate to make these choices. But brands can help me with trust. You know, I don’t want to enter my credit card on a site that doesn’t have visa verification, right?  But what if we went to a site in the only accepted Bitcoin? How would we feel about that? What does that mean about the site? I probably would back away. No offense to anybody using Bitcoin, but I just don’t understand enough about

it.

AW: So affiliating yourselves with other trusted entities actually it one way?

Baron Manett: Well, I think you’re known by the company you keep online or offline, you’re known by the company and keep. You know, you choose your friends. People make choices based on who you hang out with. It’s no different for brands.

AW: Yes, the halo effect. So a minute ago, you touched on transgressions. And I’d love to go there. So there’ll be some sort of transgression where trust is violated. Can you talk about that from a brand perspective?

Baron Manett: Sure. I mean, listen, I think brands have a lot of challenges now, right? So sometimes in the quest to maybe be cool, or to really try and get to that next level of relationship, brands might go off side. We see this often in social media where they’re trying to be in pop culture, and they might say the wrong thing.

But what I’ll let my friends say versus what I’ll let my bank say, or what I’ll let my candy bar say, is different. I think the audience has some degree of patience. If brands are trying, and trying to make things better.

AW: how do we know if they’re trying though?

Baron Manett: Well, again, that’s the challenge, right? You can’t just say something. You have to say it with meaning. You have to show that it happened. You have to be able to have all those touch points to prove that you’re genuine about something. Or else it looks like you’re whitewashing your brand behind an opportunity. And that’s not genuine. I do think when transgressions happen, and they do happen, and they will happen, sometimes honest mistakes happen. I don’t think enough brands know how to say sorry. Right. And I don’t think enough politicians know how to say sorry, either. And I think…

AW: so how would you? Is there a framework that you use or a list of things?

Baron Manett: I tell our clients to be honest. Just to be honest. It’s not a formula. But this happened. If there was responsibility from the brand or company side, this is what happened. This is why we think it happened. We made a mistake. We are sorry, we abused your trust, and we will endeavor to do better. So hey, the phrase I hear a lot from brands and politicians is “if anybody was offended, we’re sorry.” But what does that mean? Too many apologies, come off as lawyer speak, right? Lawyer speak. We’re really looking for human responses. And so taking responsibility and it’s got to be courageous.

AW: This is reminding me of a podcast interview that I did early on with Graeme Harris, who’s a PR expert. He was talking about being honest, being fully transparent. And never making promises about that “it will never happen again.” But actually saying, “here’s also what we’re doing to try to ensure that it doesn’t.”…

Baron Manett: I think of a brand in the food industry – Maple Leaf Foods. They had some trouble a few years back related to food safety. And I think they did a lot of things right. And, you know, bringing that issue forward, showing what they did, showing what they’re going to do. And they realize this is a long term road ahead to earn that trust. And I think they’re doing it; I think they’re chipping away at it. But it’s one of those things where it takes it takes a long time to build it, it takes a nanosecond to lose it. And it’s a lot more expensive to have to rebuild it. So I think we have antenna naturally, as audiences, about who’s doing something for the right reasons. And who’s doing something around motivated self-interest, right? So a simple thing is if we go online, and let’s say you want to download a piece of content or something you want, a video you want to watch, you can ask me for my email, maybe I’ll give you that. My name fine. You don’t need my birthday.

AW: Absolutely

Baron Manett: As companies, we have to understand value exchanges are human exchanges. Even if you’re looking at a screen. So I think there are some businesses or online brands that do a phenomenal job, you know, Dollar Shave Club, what do I really expect to get my razors every month? Right? And you know, they bother me when they need to bother me. And what do I need to know? Is it coming? That’s it. It was it shipped. That’s great. And then I go package, it gives me a little smile. And then do I miss going the grocery store and the drugstore and spending five times as much? I do not. So my trust in Gillette razors has evaporated from where it was because for years, they told me that was the price.

AW: Wow.

Baron Manett: It’s not the price. Right? It’s actually three times less.

AW: Your story reminded me when people used to knock on the door and my mom would answer. And they’d be trying to sell food and she’d say, sell it to the grocery store first, and then I’ll buy it. And now that’s kind of turned on its head. But to your point, as long as there’s a brand, because there has to be a promise, or an expectation of trust associated with it. I think.

Baron Manett: I think we were getting comfortable. People need to be held accountable. So we need to know, okay, great. Is this worth me parting with my money? parting with my time? Forget about money, right? Is this worth me reading? Is this worth me watching?

AW: listening to a podcast?

Baron Manett: Yeah. I hope people are still listening. But the fact is, it’s all it’s all choice, right? We’ve never had more choices.

AW: I’m not only worth your money, I’m worth your time and attention.

Baron Manett:  If brands are promises, and we bring those promises to life around stories, then we need someone to pay attention to those stories. And if you don’t have the attention, you’re not going to make that connection. Right. Right. So I think brands with high trust scores naturally earn higher attention.

AW: Do you happen to know what some of the brands are that have the highest trust scores?

Baron Manett:  Sure. At the University of Victoria study, some of the top performing brands are Mountain Equipment Coop, CAA, Home Hardware, Shoppers Drug Mart, Canadian Tire, …

AW: So they’re all retailers?

Baron Manett: Not all of them. I know that Tim Horton’s scores went down after the acquisition from 3G Capital, I believe.

AW: So it went from being a Canadian company. We trusted you. As Canadians.

Baron Manett:  Right. You’re a Canadian brand. You wrapped yourself in the blanket. And, you know, now you’re on a beach in Rio? I don’t know. Sunlife comes up. And Weber barbecues. Blue Cross in the US, like, you know, Band Aid brand is one of the top 10. I would hope that if you’re going to put something on a wound, it’s trusted, right?

AW: Absolutely.

Baron Manett:  I think food brands are really important on this. I mean, think of that all famous marketing story of Tylenol.

AW: Tylenol! I was just thinking that too! Tylenol – that was 40 years ago?

Baron Manett:  and what they had to do to bring back trust. In medicine, there are certain things that are kind of sacrosanct in terms of trust. And medicines… I think the brands that offer more trust, or that prove the payoff of trust, I think they’re probably – their business performance is stronger.

AW: Certainly, you know, in terms of your point about margin, I think is a good one. Yeah, so you’ve touched on some of this, but I just want to end this part of the interview by asking you how trust may be different for brands that exist in different domains. So first one is they exist as a service versus they exist as a product. Is there a difference in terms of the trust construct there?

Baron Manett:  I don’t think there’s – I think the idea of trust – that we have an expectation that’s been set, whether rightly or wrongly, I don’t know, given the situation, but the audience has an expectation. And then trust is earned if it meets or exceeds that expectation. And if we fall short, then we have a gap.

AW: So but that’s at a meta level, or individual transaction level. If you think about it a service, there’s a person, probably representing a company, and then you have a relationship with the person and with the company versus a product. It’s just the physical product.

Baron Manett:  Well, I think there’s an immediacy in service. Right? What that reminds me of is one of the top 10 brands in the study was Fairmont hotels. What an incredibly difficult job business, right? I mean, your “home away from home,” … we’re going to pamper you. Our expectations of luxury of just continue to go up and up. But when somebody gets it, right, and it’s interesting, what makes it right? Yeah, so, a room upgrade. A note from the general manager. Very thoughtful, small things that really aren’t expensive, you know, Hilton Hotels, I believe, is the brand in the US and they go on Twitter, they’re looking for travellers who have questions in various major cities. Whether or not you’re staying at the hotel, they try to answer them. Talk about trust. So the idea of trust and service with no expectation of short term payback.

AW: Amazing. Whereas the product actually couldn’t really do that. I mean, they could but it’s more complicated, but it’s hard.

Baron Manett:  There’s an almost a fourth wall there – that I have to go call or do something to get resolution. However, you know, Amazon solves it. If you don’t like it, put it back in the box.  They will take it back. You know, I have a real life example. I was traveling recently on a business trip. And I had a car rental with Avis, you know, and I was traveling with my family. And they didn’t have a car. I got to Miami and they didn’t have my car. And it’s one in the morning. And so what?!?  I reserved it, I gave you my credit card. I paid you well in advance, right? They’re like, well, we’re sorry. Good. Okay, so I go, “no problem. What should we do?” Right? Like how you gonna resolve it? All right, my trust is close to being broken. You can save it, I think, great – work with me. And she’s like, well, I can give you this four-door, four passenger car. I go, “but I’m traveling with six people with luggage.” She goes, “Well, you could rent a second car.” I know it’s 1:30 in the morning. And you want my wife and I to split our families up at added expense? So in line out of frustration, I just went on Twitter. “Hey, Avis, I’m having trouble anybody care?” And I got a faster digital response than a human.

AW:  Wow.

Baron Manett:  In in the place of business. You know, they still dropped the ball, right? And I promised Avis that because they dropped the ball,  whenever I have the chance to tell the story, that I would say you know, Avis gave me a bad experience… And I no longer bring my business to Avis – for both personal or corporate business. Because they didn’t give me resolution. But you know who did give me resolution? Uber. Uber got my family to the hotel, in one car.

AW: Why do you even need a rental car? What a great story. So they broke the promise. The best thing they probably could have done for you would have been to go next door. Rent a car from you from someone else. Yes, they would eat it. Well, that would have been story worthy too.

Baron Manett:  Absolutely, you know, I often think so, you know, and clients ask us a lot. What’s the easiest thing we can do to create – to earn trust? “Say thanks!” Say thank you. Remember the manners we got taught as kids? Please. And thank you.

AW: And to your point from earlier, also apologize when something goes wrong.

Baron Manett:  Yeah, take responsibility. It’s amazing that taking responsibility in today’s day-and-age is a tiebreaker. We are expecting the worst out of people. We are expecting people to take the easy way out. To not say sorry. To lie. So the people shouldn’t stand for this. But from a marketing point of view – what an opportunity. What is the audience? What are they looking for? And do we have the fortitude and the belief that yah, you know what, let’s stand up and say, this is what happened. And this is how we’re going to get better.

AW: So my dissertation research concluded that experts in a particular product category want to have stories that demonstrate their expertise. And how do they do that? By sharing stories of positive consumption experiences. So they’re looking for these extremely positive outcomes. And sometimes that could include a transgression that was corrected

Baron Manett:  I think it’s funny, if you’re going to tell your kid and apologize and make a mistake, why should we not hold a CEO accountable?…. I’m thinking of all those wonderful CEOs going to Washington, talking about privacy and data. So who has the opportunity to really step up? Because I think we’ll reward that company, that brand. We’ll see what happens.

AW: We’ll see who’s rewarded then. To be continued. Now I’m going to move on to the five rapid fire questions.

Baron Manett:  I hope I can do this.

AW:Okay, number one. What are your pet peeves?

Baron Manett:  Colleagues who start their sentences with “NO.”

AW: Or “Yeah but” ?

Baron Manett:  Yeah…  I do wonderful work with improv comedians, and people from Second City. And they joke that for a Canadian, “No” is “Yes. But…”

AW: Wow, that’s great!

Baron Manett:  Yes, but we can’t do it.

AW: Right.

Baron Manett:  But very often, just because we’re in boardrooms, trying to develop creative ideas with other people who maybe don’t do it every day. They think “no.”. And that just shuts everything down. So I’m always interested in how people start their sentences.

AW: Interesting. Question number two, what type of learner are you? Are you visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or some other kind of learner?

Baron Manett:  I’m the kind of learner – I need to learn by doing.

AW: Experiential?

Baron Manett:  I have to write things down. Or else I feel it drops out of my brain. But let me DO it with you. And I find that’s the quickest way that I can …

AW: Okay. Question number three: introvert or extrovert?

Baron Manett:  I’m interested because you know me a little bit from our past. So I am going to say – and people listening – if they know me – are going to laugh. I believe I’m an introvert. That forces himself to be an extrovert because I think it’s been better for my professional development. But so I talked so much at work, when I go home at night or spend time with my family,  if I go on vacation, I become quite intuitive.

AW: So you’re more isolated, more solemn?

Baron Manett:  When I’m tired, I just shut it down. Like people are sick of hearing from me.

AW: Where do you get your energy from?

Baron Manett:  Yeah, I guess recuperating. I had a mentor early on who was big on being extroverted. So you kind of forced yourself to be outgoing when the light is on at work, and then at the end of the day, it’s Great. Let’s shut it down.

AW: Next question: what is your communication preference for personal conversation?

Baron Manett:  Well, whenever I have my choice, it’s face to face. I love seeing people, especially as we get more digital. I think if it’s not face to face, if you are closest in my circle, you’ll be on text. And then I have degrees away from text. So whether that’s text, email, and social media, Instagram, a little bit, yeah, Instagram, LinkedIn, less Facebook. Snapchat, just with my kids, so I can understand how it works. But I’m an interloper there. I’m a big SMS fan. And it’s funny, I’m really a fan of memes and emojis and GIFs.  I love communicating with my close friends and family with images. I’m sort of trying to force myself to text less and just use pictures. I’m just fascinated with this as a communication form. I just, you know, the way they’re built. And because I think, you know, part of our role is to understand where pop culture is heading. And I think that’s a huge compass, in terms of what’s earning attention.

AW: Great point! Nobody’s brought up that point. I love that. Last question. Is there a podcast, a blog or an email newsletter that you find yourself recommending the most to people?

Baron Manett:  Yes, and I have all three.

AW: So I’m going to put links to the show notes for all of them.

Baron Manett:  Oh, great. So um, let’s see here. A podcast that I love right now. I’m a big music fan. So there’s a great podcast called broken record, okay. And it’s, it’s a collaboration between Malcolm Gladwell and Rick Rubin, who was a very famous music producer. He produced Eminem. He produced the Beastie Boys. In terms of a blog, there’s a blog called from a group called the non-obvious company, and it’s Rohit Bhargava, who is just a digital marketing monster. He’s just great. Every time I get an email to his blog, I learn something. He understands the audience.  Trust: he’s always, you know, when you sign up for his blog, “I’ll email you notification on this day, every week”. And he hasn’t broken his promises for seven years.

AW: Wow.  I know I’m going to get some definitely gonna check that one out.

Baron Manett:  So that’s a good one. And then in terms of email newsletter, a couple name – Rosie and Faris. And they are they are creative and advertising strategists. Originally, they were out of New York, but now they’re global nomads. So I think four or five years ago, they shut down and they now work and travel all over the world at the same time. So they have an email newsletter that tells me where they are in the world, what they’re thinking, who they’re inspired by. And they’re super, super smart. And then I added one as a self-plug here. My favorite event is the speaker series I’m working on called Ensemble. And the website is Ensembleco.com, where we pick four topics a year that are the intersection between pop culture and business. And our goal is to provide learning experiences for the next generation of business leaders. So our next one is June 18, in Toronto, with where we’re going to be talking about the future of cities, from a whole number of different perspectives. And then in September, our next one will be the future of wealth. So …

AW:  very cool!

Baron Manett:   We’ve got great topics and great speakers, and our tickets go to help raise money for our partner, the good [email protected] we.org. So those are the things I’m putting my attention to, what I’m talking about

and sharing.

AW: I’ll also share them in the show notes.

Baron Manett:  Thank you awesome.

AW: Is there anything else you want to add about trust?

Baron Manett:  it’s hard work. You know, you’ve got to think about it every day. And you’ve got to think about, you know, we are a product of our choices. And whether that’s personal, or whether that’s a company, people are watching our choices, and people are noticing. And if they aren’t noticing, then they can easily look it up whenever it fancies them.

AW: So your decisions or your choices are cues or signals right there regarding whether you should be trusted or not?

Baron Manett:  I agree they are proof points. You know, if the brand is a promise, then your actions are the proof points that support the promise. So if you’re a small business, return your emails, return your phone calls. You know, if you charge x for a job, and nothing changed, then that’s the bill. You know, your word is your bond. If you’re a big giant company, and you promised you’re going to do X and Y to your shareholders – do it.

And if you did something wrong, say sorry. All the stuff we learned in kindergarten applies….  Thanks for having me on.

AW: Thank you so much, Baron.


Conclusion

Baron is so passionate about brands. And particularly about doing the right thing.  I love how he says that all the stuff we learned in kindergarten still applies – say please and thank you, and when you mess up, apologize, and mean it.

So Baron THANK YOU for sharing your expertise with us.  And I am looking forward to seeing Baron in action at the next Ensemble conference.  I’ll be there and hope to see some of you Talk About Talk listeners there too!

Of course, most of what Baron mentioned applies to brands, to corporations, and to people.  I want to highlight first one of Baron’s main points:

A brand is a promise. These brands, these promises, help consumers with decision making.  if your brand is a promise, you can’t over promise and under deliver, because none of us have patience for that.

  • And if the brand is a promise, then a brand’s actions (it’s quality, performance, it’s corporate partnerships and affiliations) are the proof points that support the promise.
  • Just like with human relationships and trust, our actions (& even our friends and business partners) are proof points or evidence of whether we are trustworthy.
  • I loved it when Baron said that “trust is a muscle, … the more you keep your promises, the stronger you get. The minute you do not. It is down the tubes, right? We have no patience for anybody, no one wants to be lied to. No one wants to feel duped or tripped.”
  • Which leads me to another of Baron’s points – about brand transgressions.

Transgressions –  sometimes brand trust, or the promises that a brand makes, are broken.  As Baron says, Trust is “one of those things where it takes it takes a long time to build it, it takes a nanosecond to lose it. And it’s a lot more expensive to have to rebuild it.”

  • When I was doing the research for this episode, I read that trust is asymmetrical. It takes a lot of work to establish it, and even more to build it back after it has been violated.  So again, it is the same for brands and for humans.
  • Baron reminds us to use our manners: please and thank you and when there’s a transgression. Real apologies. And If we’re going to tell your kid to apologize when they make a mistake, why shouldn’t we also hold a CEO accountable? Absolutely!

There are two other things that I want to highlight again before I let you go, in terms of learnings here that will help you be a more confident communicator, particularly when it comes to communicating and interpreting trustworthiness:

Three elements of trust: authenticity, logic, and empathy. 

Chances are, if you don’t trust someone, they may be inauthentic, they may be illogical, or they may lack empathy and not be acting in your best interests.  On the other hand, if they are truly authentic, if  they are rigourous and logical and if they are empathetic to you, they may be worthy of your trust.

Body language – it comes down to three things: posture, hands, and eyes. 

  • posture: sit up straight. Take up lots of space. Don’t cross your arms or your legs. Do lean in towards the other person and mirror them.
  • hands: keep them visible.
  • eyes. The eyes are critical.  There’s eye contact, there’s smiling with your eyes. And watch the eyebrows. There’s always something going on when the eyebrows are raised.

Thank you so much, Baron!

I have a favour to ask now.  If you trust me, I would love it if you would tell others about Talk About Talk.  Whether it’s a face-to-face recommendation, or an email or a text with a link, or an online review, it ALL helps me to gain traction and trust in this crazy podcast marketplace.

THANK YOU for listening!

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