Unfiltered Marketing: 3 Trends Every Marketer Must Know

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If you’ve been paying attention to, well, anything for the past few years, you’ll know it’s getting harder to know who you can trust.

And knowing this can make you a better marketer.

That’s one of the key insights Stephen Denny, Managing Director at Denny Leinberger Strategy, learned writing his book Unfiltered Marketing.

In today’s episode, he and I discuss the 3 key insights from his book:

  • Why trust is collapsing
  • Why people now only trust themselves
  • How brand loyalty has changed in light of these facts

The death of trust

Consumers have had whatever trust they once had beaten out of them, which means brand marketers have a difficult job these days.

But if you understand how trust has collapsed and what that means for consumer behavior, you can adjust and be an even better marketer.

And the first thing to understand is people, in the absence of trust, need control.

“It’s not just that we’re living in an age of collapsing or collapsed trust — we are seeking control in an out-of-control world.”

Stephen Denny of Denny Leinberger Strategy

When the world seems crazy, you have to take care not to go crazy yourself. So, it makes sense people crave control in an out-of-control world.

The birth of “raw”

As humans, even in the absence of institutional trust, we need something to hold onto as true.

But how do we find what is true when we don’t trust the institutions responsible for figuring out those things?

In writing his book, Stephen realized the world now wants raw truth.

One of the consequences of a world marked by declining trust is that people only trust what they see, hear, and experience themselves.

“Because we’re living in an age of collapsing trust, the only thing that we’re willing to trust now is ourselves.”

Stephen Denny of Denny Leinberger Strategy

Your customers are the same consumers of news media who have grown jaded and untrusting. They learned long ago that they can only trust themselves and their own evaluation of the evidence provided to them.

Which means the only way you will be able to get your message across is to be able to show real evidence.

No one trusts the cliff notes anymore — they need to read Hamlet themselves before they believe Shakespeare wrote about a guy with daddy issues who hung out in graveyards chatting with skulls named Yorick.

As a marketer, your role is to provide tangible evidence to the consumer — something they can believe after evaluating it themselves.

And you may need to teach them to interpret this evidence, too, turning them into experts on your product in the process.

The rebirth of brand loyalty

Brand marketing isn’t dead.

But in the age of collapsing trust, it’s not what it used to be.

These days, people will still connect with a brand — but only those with values matching their own.

“We haven’t turned off to brand messaging. However, the biggest and boldest messages we’re willing to connect ourselves and show loyalty to are those that align with our personal values.”

Stephen Denny of Denny Leinberger Strategy

But this comes with a huge caveat:

People can smell BS a mile away. You need to actually practice your values in order for them to give you a leg up.

Your values need to be authentic.

Just look at the companies in the wake of the George Floyd protests who put black squares on their social media — how many of them did you believe cared about the issue?

While some genuinely did, it was transparently obvious others were seeking to capitalize on public sentiment after his tragic death.

That’s not a good look — and no one wants to buy from someone whose values would lead them to do it.

Now juxtapose this against Patagonia. Whether your values align with the CEO or not, nobody has any doubt he’s living his values.

So, it’s no surprise most people who care about advocacy for the natural world, sustainability and preservation of the environment — who often overlap with the people needing Patagonia products — are fanatical about the company.

He once was asked why so many brands fail to court customers with their values and his answer was simple:

It’s because they don’t have any.

If you want brand loyalty in the age of distrust, you need to be credible and live your values.

This post includes highlights of our podcast interview with Stephen Denny, Managing Director at Denny Leinberger Strategy and Author of Unfiltered Marketing.

Subscribe to hear this episode and many more like it. For the entire interview, you can listen to The B2B Revenue Executive Experience. If you don’t use Apple Podcasts, we suggest this link.

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