I posed the title of this post as a question, but let's address the answer straight away:
Yes, trust is absolutely an active ingredient of great marketing strategies. In fact, I'd argue that a marketing strategy without a heavy dose of trust is unlikely to ever achieve greatness.
The reasons are many, but first, I want to discuss where the idea for this topic came from. Cheryl recently wrote an insightful post about Why Time is Not the Enemy of Marketers that really resonated with me. I've been on both sides of the "time" coin.
Formerly, as a marketer in the trenches, fighting to meet deadlines and deliver results. It's hectic, sure, but it's exciting and rewarding – especially when you do eventually get those results. Now, as an executive, I'm still aware of and respect the plight of marketing teams, but I also have more experience with the business side of things and the realities of budgets, stakeholders and the all-important bottom line.
After thinking about the concept of time and how it impacts individuals, teams and companies differently, I circled back to a Simon Sinek quote I used in my last post about The Importance of Leadership in A Digital World. Sinek says great leadership begins with, "The hard work of training people, coaching people, believing in people and trusting people.”
When I re-read Sinek's quote, it struck me like a bolt of lightning: believing in people and trusting people is a huge component of success in every aspect of life, especially if it involves a group of people. Whether it's a sports team, marketing department, The Senate, or something all of us can relate to – a family – trust and belief in each other is paramount.
Without further ado, here are the reasons I believe trust is an active ingredient in great marketing strategies:
Trust Allows Everybody to Narrow Their Focus
One of the biggest issues marketing teams face, as we've reiterated many times, is the struggle to keep pace with technology and our increasingly digital world. Everybody on the team, from Presidents and CEOs to managers and all the way down to junior coordinators deals with this on some level. Because of this, each person on the team already has their focus divided between the marketing strategy, their daily tasks and keeping on top of trends and news.
There isn't bandwidth for left for anything else!
And yet, the inability to trust the person below, above or beside you on the company hierarchy is undoubtedly something that pulls focus from every member of the team. If executives are worried about the timeline of results, managers about trimming the budget and the writers and designers about shouldering too much work on too tight of a deadline, how can the strategy ever succeed?
When there is trust and communication, everybody on the team can focus on their task and work smarter. The bottom of the team should be just as privy to budgets, timelines and stakeholder opinion as the top, and each person should have the opportunity to voice their opinion on any component of the strategy. Most importantly, the team must decide on requirements, timelines and expected results up front – and then stick to them.
Nothing breaks trust like shifting requirements and deadlines, which leads to my next point...
Trust Holds Everybody Accountable for Their Job
When you trust somebody, and you know they trust you, what's the one thing in the world you do not want to do? For most people, the answer is to not let the person who trusts you down, therefore breaking their trust. In marketing, the many moving parts of a strategy often depend on various different cogs in the marketing machine. Invariably, each of these cogs is the responsibility of a team member, so in order for each person to do their job, they're dependant on another team member doing theirs.
When you consider timelines, due dates and and expected results, it's easy to see why trust is so vital to success: if just one person fails to do their job, it'll throw the whole team – and thus the strategy – off track.
What trust – real and true trust – does to a group of people is absolutely amazing. Work gets done, results are delivered and stakeholders are happy. And the funny thing is, trust makes people stronger and brings them together, so that next marketing strategy or campaign will only get more successful as trust amongst the team continues to develop.
I can hear it now: but how do you measure trust? Is it even a real thing? How do I know who I can trust? How do I know who trusts me?
There are no straight answers, nor is there any data to to measure trust, or for that matter, how the trust level of a marketing team actually impacts the results of its strategy. Trust is, however, one of those intangibles in life that is a net positive, no matter what the situation.
You can't lose with trust. If you don't have it on your team, then what you can do is discover that trust is indeed an active ingredient of great marketing strategies.