What happens when a promise made by a company is broken? Complaining on Twitter. No more customer. You can lost trust one customer at a time, or en masse. When companies suffer surges in demand that let customers down (Clorox wipes) or just get caught with their hand in the data cookie jar (Facebook), customers begin to ponder the brand. When the promise is kept, there are no questions. Keep buying. Keep logging in.

The core of a brand as a promise. It’s the promise your company makes–and keeps–to its best audience. There’s no brand without that promise that your company is going to perform the task or provide the product in your own special way – that the customer wants and cares about.

Clorox Wipes have been out of stock for about a year. I don’t grudge the company one bit, but my loyalties (if they ever existed) have evaporated. I no longer trust that I’ll be able to find them, so I no longer look for them. Facebook has betrayed our collective trust so many times, I cannot believe I had to sign up for an account (friend me!) after three years away, knowing that they will exploit every 1 and 0 they gather about my digital behavior.

Clorox has been replaced. I accept the reasons why their promise was broken. Facebook has lost all trust. I do not accept much of what they’ve done. I do not like transacting with them. I do not want to do it. The only thing I want less than an Oculus is an Oculus by Facebook. But then, they offer a powerful value proposition. I can connect with my family. I can connect with all the great people on Sweathead. I can advertise to prospects. All in ways I can’t do as easily or as well without their service. I overlook their lapses in good behavior and good citizenship, because the benefits for me are more useful.

At least I go in with eyes open, I tell myself, as each keystroke is streamed directly to Zuck’s data cauldron. If only that were it; that I make this choice despite myself and move on happily with my day. This level of broken trust makes me reflect poorly on my own self-image. I’m a hypocrite for using this platform, the same way one might feel going back to a partner who has cheated on them. Using the service makes me feel bad. About myself. Because it has broken my trust, but I need to use it. Each time I use it, I resent it more, based only on how they’ve broken my trust up til now, but not factoring for the future failures that I fully expect at this point. Yikes.

I spoke with the author of Trustworthy, How The Smartest Brands Beat Cynicism and Bridge the Trust Gap, Margot Bloomstein about how some brands design their communication and UX around building and maintaining trust, so their customers don’t feel icky. In the book, she uses a collection of great examples to make her points, and goes pretty deep on the work they did to identify the point of trust and keep improving on that front.


Here is a transcript of the episode. To listen with your very own ears, click here, or here. Or here, here and here. It’s all around you! Want the fresh audio sent directly to your inbox? Click here.

00:06:06.000 –> 00:06:15.000
Adam Pierno: All right, welcome back to another episode of The Strategy Inside Everything. I’m excited for this conversation. I think it’s safe to say You can trust me on that.
I made a pun that will become apparent why it’s a killer dad joke momentarily. But I have the author of the new book, Trustworthy, How The Smartest Brands Beat Cynicism and Bridge the Trust Gap. Margot Bloomstein! Margot How are you?

Margot Bloomstein: Hi there. I was just gonna say I appreciate the dad joke that was well timed.

00:06:42.000 –> 00:06:46.000
Adam: I, if nothing else I can bring puns, I can do that for sure. I’m really I really enjoyed your book, and I was happy that we were introduced and have a chance to speak with you. I know the book is available everywhere pretty much I know Amazon and independent booksellers so people, I think when you hear more about the thinking behind it, people are going to really want to run out and get it. So thank you for making time. Thank you. So before we get into our topic which is the concepts behind the book. I wanted people to learn a little bit more about you. I know that you’re the Brand and Content Strategy Consultant at Appropriate, Inc. You are a Lecturer in Content Strategy at FH Johanneum,
Margot:Yeah, that one’s in, it’s in in Austria and it’s, it’s wonderful I’ve been teaching there several years in their graduate program, and students come from all over, primarily Europe, and I’m there by zoom.

00:07:48.000 –> 00:07:59.000
Adam: I know zoom has made a lot possible like the conversation we’re having right now. Right, right. It’s fantastic. Now, before we dive in, would you give people a little bit more context about your background and kind of how you got to where you are and even how you started thinking about the content for Trustworthy.
Margot: Sure. So, I’ve been in consulting for about 20 years, I, I was born at a very young age, and.

And then my background is in design it might be a in design and then jumped into content strategy around 2000 so heyday of the dot com boom and bust, I spent at Sapient, and just learned a tremendous amount there, and I was hired on to a Content Strategy Team, they use that title. So it was, it was alive and kicking even at that point, although in some respects, I think it was more or less glorified copywriting and with a mix of instructional design and and technical writing brought in.

You just read this whole thing? Hmm. If you’ve got time on your hands, you might like Specific or Under Think It.

But I learned a lot there and from there joined a couple of smaller agencies more like 50 person agencies that had hired me and to. It just really start their content strategy disciplines to figure out, how would it complement design and information architecture is sort of that, that three legged stool under user experience design. And then as as their clients were raising issues that may be could be resolved through content strategy. I worked to figure out, well how do you sell it how do you make it into a product, what are the components within it and in the deliverables and activities along the way and who needs to be involved in those different conversations.

And that’s still a lot of what I teach my students now through FH Johanneum, where we’re looking at what are the different components and content strategy. But then I also am always driving home to them that, yes, there are the deliverables, but it’s the deliverables that punctuate the conversation. This is a participatory conversational kind of process and work because we’re so focused on meeting the the communication goals of different organizations and helping them figure out what those communication goals are
and should be to meet the needs of our target audiences. And then, in 2010, I went out on my own, formed Appropriate Inc. and under that umbrella, I partner with agencies to help them clarify and understand content strategy position it as part of their offering, and then work with clients myself in a broad range of industries in in higher ed and software and healthcare and and beyond.

00:10:30.000 –> 00:10:33.000
Adam: That’s interesting. Yeah, content strategy, like all strategy, they all butt up against each other and they all run parallel you’re, you’re solving ultimately you’re using similar deductive and inductive techniques to solve a diverse set of inputs to get two different kinds of answers but flexing similar parts of the brain, it’s always interesting to me to talk to people at different disciplines and strategy about how they think about how they process problems and how they get to solutions.

00:10:58.000 –> 00:11:10.000
Margot: Yeah, that’s so true I always find it exciting to, to figure out the best way to position what I’m doing to meet the needs of my clients because for some of them content strategy. That’s a familiar term and they think it’s exactly the same as content marketing or copywriting, and in other cases they’re familiar with creative direction but then see it executed through more verbal means through content types and and copywriting and editorial style, and that’s fine I think so much of what we do is about meeting our audiences where they are. Yes, and moving them to where we need them to go so establishing that common language tapping into their jargon and, as well as body language and making sure that we can mirror it to meet their needs and that’s what we do with clients. And I think that’s what in the best cases, we help our clients do with their audiences as well.

00:11:51.000 –> 00:11:59.000
Adam: Yeah, that’s, it’s the same it’s what do people think today and what do we want them, what do we need them to think, in order for them to trust us a little more.

00:11:59.000 –> 00:12:07.000
Margot: Right,
Adam: Which which leads us into trustworthy, I have a question I’m going to ask you a question right off the top. The book begins with a quote that says, You don’t believe me, but do you trust me?
Margot: Yeah, Yes, you listening to this, you shouldn’t trust me, maybe though you trust Adam because his voice is familiar to you. You’ve been tuning in for a while you know what to expect as far as the level of detail maybe in our conversation, and maybe also some, some vulnerability that comes through. So I think, to get to your question Do I trust you well I just met you.
Adam: Yeah, you can answer honestly that’s even before we started recording I don’t know, I gave you a rundown of this is what’s going to happen after we’re done. This is how the process is going to work. I was trying to earn your trust now that is not Margot does not exclusively for you I do that with every guest. But that but I realized as I was preparing for our talk. That’s what I’m doing, I’m trying to earn trust because when we come from, neutral corners. You don’t know me and especially now that we’re going via Zoom or digital, I don’t know who you don’t really know too much about me.

Margot: Right. We also discussed though you have roots in upstate New York I have roots in upstate New York, we both have spent time in Boston, so we established that kind of that that sort of rapport, that that common playing field that is shorthand for shared experiences. And I think it’s by establishing that rapport, giving people ways to know who we are and how we are. That’s how individuals, build trust. I mean that’s what happens when you know maybe we we take the project manager out for out for dinner or we meet up for coffee after like a certain big deliverable on the project or something.

And we’re working to establish that relationship. And I think there’s a real opportunity for businesses to do that to you can’t take your, your customer out for coffee, but you can communicate in a way that says, Yes, quote unquote, we’re all in this together, we are just like you. But more importantly, we can relate, we can establish compassion if not empathy, because we have some shared experience we can relate to your needs because maybe we’ve been there too.
I was just gonna say I think like one of the first examples that I offer in the book and it’s a, it’s really a collection of I think my, my favorite examples and new, new case studies and interviews that and conversations that I’ve been so fortunate to have

Adam: I just interrupt you. I love the examples that you use, I think the way they’re, they’re sprinkled in varied throughout the book is is an interesting. It’s a good collection that are not the kind of common beats that you get in each in each medium article for example there. Yeah, I really enjoyed that part,
Margot: Thank you I mean I tried to spotlight the examples that I’ve come across that yeah maybe they are a little bit more kind of wacky doing out there and left field but have certainly illuminated. My experience and then as I was looking across the different stories where I’d aggregated interviews with, like the Chief Creative Officer of America’s Test Kitchen, and somebody that works at a adults toy retailer, let’s say, as well somebody that’s done content strategy for the FBI and design for Airbnb and the National Health Service in the UK. As I was looking across them, that’s where I started to see the patterns and the shared experiences from which we could pull out a framework to say there’s a new and a better way to do this work of establishing trust and if we look at it in aggregate, we can see those patterns to pull out that new framework, and then apply it in all business contacts that I was just gonna say like the first example that
I have in there I believe is from from Mailchimp the email marketing company.

They’re a small business or they were a small business, several other small businesses right right they started out though as this small business. Now they they host something like 60% of the world’s email marketing messages go through Mailchimp.

00:16:30.000 –> 00:16:45.000
Adam: Not exactly a small business anymore
Margot: But they’re still trying to be sort of Jenny from the block there by establishing rapport with their audience of other small businesses by speaking in a way that says, hey, we use these tools to here’s what we’ve learned here’s how we can spotlight the work of some of our other clients so you can learn from them too so they’re keeping the language very accessible and familiar, they’ve taken steps that I write about in the book to keep their brand familiar bye bye operationalize the work of consistency and authenticity over time. And then by always speaking in a way that gives their audience. Reasons to, to find them familiar. They’re helping them know the brand as well as feel comfortable that they know the brand to have sort of comfort in their own knowledge.

And that’s what fosters trust to their customers trust and many brands for brands, for if you can get your customers to even believe there is something to know versus transact with, there’s something worth grasping onto.

Adam: That’s, that’s the difference between it’s part of the difference between a brand and a business is that that access that there is, there is something to know there is something to think about beyond Click here to buy or whatever it might be. I wanted to you referenced pretty early in the book as well. The New York Times, and you can’t read a book about trust in 2021, without thinking about where we are with the media, and where we are and I know this is not. This book is not about that explicitly. But there’s other places in the book where you reference trusted scientists and talk about you present an interesting case for the New York Times and how they use the, you have three V’s voice volume and vulnerability.

If you like this conversation, have I got a podcast for you. The Strategy Inside Everything is available everywhere, including direct to your inbox.

You talk about how they use vulnerability to improve some of their reporting and some of their offering.
Can you can you walk me through that a little bit because it, it, I have it sparked a lot of ideas for me about that brand and about news in general.

Margot: Sure. So the New York Times, if we look at them in the context of the broader media landscape, let’s I guess kind of zoom out a little bit to that point first. You’re right. This is not a book about politics or media, but we at the same time, we can’t ignore the work of politics and politicians and the way the media has covered them the way mass media has covered them over. Certainly I would say the past five years or so the browser, just to pick up just to pick a random sample of time.

Adam: Right. Yeah.

00:19:14.000 –> 00:19:28.000
Margot: And that I think that’s certainly where I started my research into this topic because I noticed back in 2016 that seemed like something was different in the world of politics like understatement of the year there, but it seemed like something was different, where the way we were covering politicians and our expectations of them had changed because it used to be that when the media caught a politician and a lie. That’s that was it that way and have that politician yeah exactly yeah they would scuttle the campaign and it would be over.

And that wasn’t happening. And I think politicians on both sides of the aisle at times were playing fast and loose with the truth, but it didn’t necessarily change what their what their followers thought and believed it didn’t necessarily affect how their followers thought and and considered reasons to trust them. And I thought that was interesting because it underscores the idea that we don’t necessarily trust politicians or media or brands. We trust ourselves and our knowledge of them, and trust is, is something that parallels that idea of cultural identity. And if you saw yourself as a Trump supporter, regardless of what he said. You’d still see yourself as a Trump supporter right because it’s it’s tough to shake someone’s belief in themselves and and belief that they know what the world is about.

But that is exactly what happened that led up to so much support for him. When you had the media, not necessarily taking the same approach to covering him, and then different media outlets and politicians, engaging and gaslighting their audiences and saying, don’t trust the evidence of your own eyes don’t believe anybody but me I’m your one true source of truth. Yeah, it caused people to kind of pull back from, maybe the responsibility and opportunity of evaluating information on its own merits and and trusting the evidence of their own eyes. So people kind of pulled back and said well everybody’s out to get you all politicians lie. Instead I’ll just trust what I hear within my filter bubble maybe from people that are quote unquote just like me, I’m guilty of this as well. And me It’s tough, not to fall into that right I mean, most of the time we we like our friends we have our friends because we respect them and we we agree with what they say to a degree.

We want to hear their restaurant recommendations their movie recommendations we want to let us see what they just tweeted or posted about reading, and that’s that’s fine and good until we discover that maybe, maybe our filter bubbles are being gamed that the different brands are gaming the ratings or infiltrating those filter bubbles and telling us what we should read and and algorithms are prioritizing some of our options. I think when people became more aware of that, they continue to pull back to instead go back to the world of just gut instincts and saying, you know, I’m turning away from those traditional sources of expertise, I’m turning away from traditional sources of authority and I include marketing in that type of authority, you know that that’s terrible for brands. Right, right, because if you’re trying to sell something if you’re trying to push your expertise, if your team is trying to say. These are the new features coming out and here’s why they should matter to you, but people say, No, I don’t want to hear it. Where do you go from there.

00:22:50.000 –> 00:23:09.000
Adam: Yeah. So what, what did the times do to. I mean, it’s so crazy. Overall, I mean the times I think is one of the papers of record. Right, right. So it’s weird to have to have this conversation but you talk about vulnerability and the way in a few particular stories, the way they use that and use what you said, I don’t trust them but I do trust myself. They use that to enhance reporter.

Margot: Right, right. I think what the times with the New York Times did really well in several, let me rephrase that. Something that the New York Times has done really well in several different stories and beats is admitting what they don’t know, and leading with the idea that they don’t have all the answers so instead, they look to the people on whom they’re reporting the different cultures and cities and topics to say, Well, what else should we be discovering here, what is most important about these topics they’ve done that on the subject of of race relations in Chicago, they’ve done it on a few other stories where they’ve effectively crowd sourced this to say, tell us what else is really important on this topic because we don’t have all the answers. You can say that maybe that’s a response to to cut backs in journalism and cutbacks in, in many newsrooms which is its own kind of big problem.

But I think what they’re doing and saying, we don’t have all the answers, but we can still be the experts in the room in publishing this material and bringing it out to a greater audience and maybe engaging and further inquiry around the topic that’s their strength.

And I think that’s a powerful position and that idea of vulnerability is something that that is changing, among many brands and industries and across the media landscape, because at the trend used to be that you needed to seem bigger than you needed to be infallible have all the answers, whether you were a leader in manufacturing or if you were in government or public health. And we’ve seen the problems with that people don’t believe false bravado that idea that you do need to be bigger than you are. That was hot like in the 1980s yeah it’s gone. Yeah, yeah. It used to be that we all wore shoulder pads, and even businesses wore shoulder pads to be bigger than they were and now people say, No, how do we get more like on human scale, kind of, at the at the level of the story and at the level of our users to say.

Adam: We’re a small business just like you, even if that isn’t always the case anymore. How do we still represent ourselves in a way that is transparent and accessible to say we’re learning to yes and we relate to us we still we come from small business and we relate to small business even in the case of Mailchimp where they’re, they’re longer but they still have roots there.
Margot: Right. I think that’s I think that’s fair that I think that applies to Mailchimp, that applies to even you look at big giant corporations like like Kellogg’s. Recently I was looking at our x bar the protein bar.

They were started by a couple of guys that I think were like childhood friends I think in the Chicago area, and they’ve kept the product, pretty simple, there’s only like half a dozen ingredients in every bar, the packaging also is pretty simple. It’s like they couldn’t afford a serif type face or so it works, it works pretty well. Yeah, it’s transparent, it’s blunt, they’re not putting on any errors. If you go to their website you can read sort of about their, their origin story how they started out knowing each other in elementary school, and they’re still humble and accessible.

Nowhere does it say that a few years ago they were acquired by Kellogg’s for $600 million. And now they’ve got this giant marketing resources behind them and doesn’t come across like that as a strategic choice that was a strategic decision to keep the product accessible and human scale and not mom and pop more like, dude, and dude, but it’s still pretty my idea. Yeah.

Adam: Do you, do you think about–Is this trust gap. Does it exist, equally across verticals, or does it besides media, you know, take the news out of it obviously there’s a different challenge there, but for CPG and service industry and fitness healthcare you know think about the broadest level of of verticals. Is it the same gap is a pretty equal or is it does it vary by by vertical?

Margot: That’s a good question. So, what I saw in interviewing different creative directors and marketers for trustworthy. Was that so many of these problems show up across industries, many of the same issues that the FBI had to wrangle with in in their content, those issues cropped up for, for other brands as well, that were far outside of the realm of policing or government, but where they needed to still project the same level of of access and had similar communication goals I think I compare the FBI and banana republic dealt with very similar issues, and we can see that kind of across industries.

I think some of the ones that you called out around public health and fitness and consumer packaged goods.
Those those industries in particular, highlight the need for, for people to feel a greater sense of control and understanding. I think certainly in their interactions and use with, with some of those different brands. People want to feel knowledgeable about what they’re putting in their bodies what they’re doing with their bodies they want to feel in control and like they have access to the most up to date information. And again, that’s one of those areas though where were false bravado and assurances around safety and research, and privacy.

Adam: When brands promise too much, and then people discover the truth.
Margot: Yeah, it’s tough to come back from that kind of trust deficit that sort of loss of trust, well you know we referenced political campaigns, and you know one slip up could derail a campaign in the past. Doesn’t anymore but it did. Once upon a time, Howard Dean made a funny noise at a podium he was disqualified for life from doing it right.

But is it not true like I see some of the same from a tax standpoint, some of the same brands are in the news every week with the slip ups that are like data got loose or we accidentally published the story about something terrible that we shouldn’t have. And it doesn’t seem to diminish profitability maybe it does diminish trust.

Adam: Do you see that in like when you work with Lovehoney, for example, or the FBI is also a freak story and in a certain way, because there’s so many facets to it. But Lovehoney like if they if they had a mishap like that- that’s, talk about the difference in scale as a part of the recovery from those types of trust breaking events.

00:30:19.000 –> 00:30:36.000
Margot: Okay, so yeah let’s talk about Lovehoney then so adult toy retailer the largest in Europe, and they’re in a, in a space in an industry where trust and privacy data security, all those things matter. I don’t know that it is so much an issue of scale because that’s the case where every transaction is incredibly personal and intimate by the nature of the transaction true when somebody is putting information into a search engine they’re they’re revealing their, their deepest, darkest desires.

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And so to engage somebody in a transaction through a website where you’re saying, Tell us what you want, and we’ll recommend the right thing. That requires a certain level of trust and respect and also building rapport. So the example that I share and trustworthy is about a sort of shopping wizard that they had developed to recommend certain adult toys and the tone that they offer in it in the final version is somewhat consultative. It isn’t cold, it isn’t overly academic, but it’s also not overly chummy or silly because all those types of things. Those are all elements that would let me rephrase that.

Because any kind of tone that incorporated those qualities, would be would be challenging to the overall process, it would make someone feel uncomfortable, and certainly when you’re working with any kind of interactive bot, and these are interactive chat you’re in that space of wrangling with with information in the uncanny valley. People need to understand that this is not live chat there’s not a person at the other end of it, but at the same time, it can’t be entirely cold and clinical, not in that industry, there’s a there’s a fine line.

Adam: Right, right. So, they work to make sure that as people are interacting with the product they’re always getting reminders that I’m just a chatbot, let me pull up the right information for you now, there’s not actually a person at the switch here that is picked that cares one way or the other.

Margot: Right, right.
Adam: And that enables people to have a more useful usable experience that helps them get to them on their way to finding a product putting in the shopping cart and checking out with it. So in that way they’re able to still maintain trust and a very transactional experience and it turns out that kind of trust that Oh I know I can go to this website, it will be a pretty broad comprehensive away array of products because I’ve
come to understand how they organize products here and, and I know I’ll be able to find what I want.

Also I know that I will get good recommendations because the analytics behind this, the analytics behind the search engine and the product array, there’s enough meta data to give me good recommendations.
That’s what people trust in the experience the ISC the security the guidance. And that’s what enables them then to trust the brand itself.

Adam: Yeah, and even beyond privacy. Lack of judgment. It’s not necessarily empathy, but it is nobody’s there, looking at you funny. You’re free to free to explore how you want and we were not that we don’t care but we don’t pass judgment on you, it’s a different writer was right.

Margot: When I first started working with Lovehoney. It was with one of their, one of their kind of luxury lines and had the opportunity to do some user research and see what the experience was like shopping in one of their stores in the brick and mortar store. And it was interesting to see the comparisons between how how the in store associates adopted this kind of more consultative style with customers that as you said was free of judgment.

Adam: Yes
Margot: We were looking at what does it mean to translate that into the online experience. We always say in design and in business strategy as well. God is in the details like it’s those details that make relationships, more, more valuable and when you get them wrong. That’s, that’s what causes a brand to lose trust, and certainly in this kind of environment with with that kind of brand and that sort of subject matter. There are so many opportunities to to lose your customer. Yes, but they didn’t, they’re successful because every step of the way. They’re building trust they’re meeting their customer where they are, with the kind of language they use mirroring back and things like the architecture of the website. The level of detail around instructional copy and reviews and whatnot and offering them just enough information so that people feel feel smarter about the product they’re about to buy or smarter and more confident about the decision they’re about to make that maybe expensive might be at a higher price point.

So they want to feel good about it, they want to feel good about themselves.

Adam: Yeah, yeah, you want to leave them with that feeling that they made the right choice and confident that they got what they wanted, because they felt free to ask the questions they needed to ask and they didn’t feel intimidated which is huge in that industry.

Margot: Right, right. There a very empowering brand, I write a lot about America’s Test Kitchen and had the opportunity to speak with Jack Bishop their Chief Creative Officer in something that he said, just really stuck with me and I think I brought it into them probably every other interview that I conducted and every other bit of research the that I uncovered.

This idea that success breeds confidence and America’s test kitchen with all of their investments in different content types and cookbooks and a cooking show a cooking school, the Instagram feed, they’re always trying to set up their audience of home cooks, to be successful. So they feel confident in themselves and then confident in the brand. And I think that idea of of empowerment and how we invest in helping our audiences be more successful.

That affects transactional websites like love honey calm. It affects interaction with the FBI crime center database where they’re looking at how people can pull information from it if they’re journalists or people working in in tracking crime and municipal policing.

It comes through, I think, in every example that if we’re not helping our hurt our users feel successful, they will lose confidence.

Adam: Yeah, it’s the whole thing.
Margot: We’ve talked about two of your three we talked about voice we talked about vulnerability. I want to talk about volume, that’s the one that I was surprised to see the way you considered volume as a component of building trust or ingredient to trust one way or the other, actually.

Adam: Give me, give me a high level view of how volume of communication factors in.

Margot: So in, in that framework of voice volume and vulnerability by volume, I mean, how much a brand needs to say in terms of length and level of detail in verbal and visual components. So, how long should your blog posts be how many bullet points do you need in a product description, length of your pages how many images in a photo gallery. And then also within those images are you using diagrams that are incredibly detailed or you taking more of the IKEA approach of simplicity, right products to design and everything in between. And that that challenge around volume comes to a fundamental question that I think we hear more and more and organizations have, how much is enough. How much should you right. How much should you say and how detailed does this all need to be, because I think in some respects that gets it how much work, do we need to do.

Adam: Yeah. How much do we need to invest, you said it very well. You say, there’s a big difference between complete versus comprehensive.

Margot: Right, right. And I think in some brands The, the challenge to be comprehensive to address every facet of of a product every bit of detail that you can share it overwhelms your audience. Sometimes that can be a good thing, they gain respect just knowing that you’ve done that kind of research they don’t need to read about it, but good to know that it’s there.

One of the examples that I share is Crutchfield electronics. They are known for publishing tremendous amounts of content, looking at the different products they sell, maybe if it’s a, a home audio system, they’re comparing it offering you a lot of information about how to determine like the right the right stereo system for your needs, depending on the number of soft surfaces and hard surfaces in the day, and also known for giving you the tech specs if you if you really want to get into the homes and all that delta they can get it there. Right, yeah you can get the tech specs. You can also see inside the products if it’s like some really high tech cooler, let’s say, you can see the video of when they saw it in half, out in the parking lot or how tough it is to install that stereo in a car out in their parking lot as well they’re, they’re doing a lot of stuff creating a lot of content out in their parking lot and a lot of different content types if you’re more of a visual learner verbal learner. And what they’ve seen on these very long pages on their website is that when people get to the end of those long pages. They click to read more because they, this is an audience that loves to take in a lot of information so it’s right for their target audience.

Adam: It’s also right for the price point of the products, it’s the combination of those two things that is the key.
Margot: Yeah. Yeah.
Adam: And no, using the analytics to determine that those people that scroll all the way down take another action versus lookin at scroll depth on its own and saying well people are reading it, that’s good. No, we need to know if they did, if they engage more next.

Margot: Yeah. Right, right. And I think what they’ve determined is that that process of reading and taking in more information before you put the product in your shopping cart. That’s the opportunity that sort of slow content strategy opportunity for people to sit with their choices to say, am I, comfortable in this decision to go through a cycle of confirmation and validation and confirmation and validation to say yes, this is still the right product for me. And they know that content works. They measure the success of it and they effectively measure trust. by seeing that after people finally buy a product.

It’s very rare for them to return it. they feel good about it they feel confident about the product because they feel confident about themselves, and they got every, every possible detail they wanted, including wiping the thing gets half.

Adam: Right. Who doesn’t want it.

Margot: Will It Blend?

Adam: I still will get sucked up watching those dumb things.
Oh, go go go.
Margot: I was just gonna say, at the same time though. I don’t want to say that more content is always better content, because there’s also the example where having more content, sometimes just confuses your audience I share the example from, from gov.uk, where they went from something like 75,000 pages of content spread across nine different websites like hello maintenance nightmare down to 3000 pages, when they realized that what they were offering was more content but it was not useful content, it was not complete, and going to your point around being comprehensive versus being complete they realized they could say less and help their audience feel more confident that they had enough information to know how to get the right forums how to file
taxes how to take advantage of government services, all those types of things. Yeah, I think those sprawling pages are put sprawling sites are there, the relics of post.com, like, let’s get everything we have on the internet.
And people are now over the past 10 years I’ve realized no no we just need the important stuff and give them away to ask the deeper question whether it’s through a chat bot or one 800 number that they can, or a form.
Adam: I know you don’t believe this but some people will still use a form. It doesn’t have to be a chat bot, but give them a way to get that information that they want. If they want it. Right, especially for for the example you decided, we don’t need to have thousands of pages of regulations people are not going to read it.

Margot: Right. And I think they also realize that they were offering content that it went far beyond regulations and the kind of information that government should be offering. They had content on there like if you were interested in beekeeping in in Great Britain and information on different types of these species how to build your hives and all how to react in different types of weather, which is great information and government had no business publishing it and maintaining it. That’s better left to maybe an agricultural organization so they adopted the mindset that government should only publish content on the things that only government can publish content.

So let’s tell people how to pay certain that taxes and whatnot and importing bees to the country. But the rest of it we don’t need to do. Yeah, and that’s for only further reinforces confidence that we’re, we’re going to stay out of the things we don’t own and we don’t manage and we don’t control and therefore will make less mistakes, and therefore, you’ll know when we tell you something, it’s something we know about.

Adam: Right, right, gets to be common sense once you get to the end of it but it’s hard when you’re looking at that first step for people to recognize we got to cut 70%.

Margot: Right. And I think to go through a content auditing process that lacks that mindset or lacks some sort of guiding belief is few tile because it’s great to see what you have, but how do you know if it’s any good and how do you know if it’s relevant. Yes. And that question of relevance and quality. You only know if you if you first figure out, well how do we know if our content is good well maybe if it upholds specific communication goals let’s figure those out first, and then how do we know if our content is relevant. Well let’s first figure out what is the, what’s the information that only we can offer, and that our audience wants, like if you picture that as a Venn diagram, you need to operate, just in that middle portion, and it’s harder, easier said than done,
Adam: Right from for many organizations who that that they have someone that is passionate about that beekeeping angle that does not. Sometimes it just becomes a challenge you know how those pages got added and now you know what you have to do to get rid of them and that always is a. Yeah, the key spot. And I think it’s tough to turn to your client or into your own organization and say, are we publishing this information because we should or just because we always have.

Margot: Right, we do a blog because it meets a need for us and our target audience, or because somebody here just loves to blog, right, and what are they are they posting recipes on our side is that good.

Adam: Right, right. You, you end the book with, with something that I read twice. Your vision for the future.
I don’t know why I found it so unexpected, that you that you put that in there, would you would you talk a little bit about. I don’t you know I don’t want you to narrate the vision for the future I want people to experience it but talk about what got you there thinking about thinking forward that way because it, because the book is very much of a time, and it’s like we talked about at the top. I was pleased to the vision of the future is that like okay, there’s hope because of these things, how did you what what compelled you to say I really think it’s important that we close the book with this with this idea.

Margot: I mean, I think, in any sort of any sort of business book or guide for doing things differently.
We should always know why and then go. So what if we do these things if we embrace this kind of challenge and opportunity as people in design or content strategy or marketing or or any kind of professional communication if you’re a CMO that picks this up and says, Yes, this, this is our. These are our marching orders. This is our path forward. I think that’s great, but then you should also realize what’s the impact, what sort of change you should create that you could create in society because that’s

I think a real opportunity for business as we’ve seen, people have lost trust in institutions as cynicism has increased. We’ve seen how people have have pulled away and the opposite of cynicism is connection so when they’re pulling away from opportunities to to connect with with society with their neighbors with their community with maybe the businesses and brands that they used to support because they they identified with them. But now they’re pulling back. That’s a real problem. And I think there’s an opportunity for business and for brands to step into that void now and say business can be a force for good. And you may operate far outside the realm of government and politics and media. But that isn’t to say that you can’t do anything to affect those arenas that isn’t to say that you can’t do anything to effect a problem that now plagues, every industry, and our entire society and I’m fundamentally optimistic about that.

And I think as, as somebody working as a consultant. I have to be optimistic I think we all need to be optimistic because otherwise why we do this.

Adam: Yeah, and how can we move everything forward if we don’t believe we’re going to make an impact.

Margot: Right, right. And I think we can look at the world as it is cynics look at the world as it is and say, it’s worse. I think designers and people in communications and builders of brands and brainstorms we look at the world as it is and say it can be better. Here’s how.

Adam: So that’s what I wanted to give people the how I got it I received it and I was like, Oh, I feel like this was written just for me. I needed that positive runway to see okay this is what we’re doing and that reminder so I I definitely enjoyed that like I said I read that but twice.

Margot: I’m so glad to hear that and you said that it was surprising because this is of this moment.

Adam: I don’t think this moment is going away. Yeah, No, that’s a that’s a great point. Yeah, we are. This is the, this is our president for a while.

Margot: And if not indefinitely but but I think if people start. If brands and people in strategy roles, start driving towards trust and confidence in institutions and in whatever we’re peddling whatever we’re offering, whatever we’re saying we can’t get to that, that next phase which should be brighter.

Adam: Right, right. Well, I think we, we make it brighter.

Margot: By looking at how we reinvest in building confidence in in our audiences, empowering our users so then they can bring that knowledge, and that confidence, they know how to assess information that they can go out and learn more. They can bring that then into all of their other interactions as well.

Adam: That’s great. Margot thank you so much for making time to chat with me today. It was really great, getting on with you and having this conversation I really enjoyed reading the book. Thank you so much. This was so much fun. Oh good. Now the book is Trustworthy, How The Smartest Brands Beat Cynicism and Bridge the Trust Gap. Our author today so nice to be joined by Margot Bloomstein. Thank you. And again, the book is available, pretty much everywhere. Amazon is always a safe place to look for a book, but also available at independent booksellers as well so check it out. I think you will be well rewarded for your, your time reading it as I was. Thanks again Margot.

You can find the book here: https://appropriateinc.com/trustworthy/ and on Amazon, here: https://www.amazon.com/Trustworthy-Smartest-Brands-Cynicism-Bridge/dp/1989603920/ref=sr_1_1?crid=13G2K9H7LCR68&dchild=1&keywords=margot+bloomstein&qid=1617035384&sprefix=margot+bloomstein%2Caps%2C235&sr=8-1

Categories: Podcast