Four Ways Advertisers Can Gain Trust and Connect with Target Audiences

July 11, 2015

It probably wouldn't come as any real surprise if I told you that consumers don't trust marketers. We've been hearing about skepticism toward advertising for years and it's only been growing. According to our recent survey, Consumer Skepticism of Advertising and Marketing, only 22 percent of women and 30 percent of men trust advertisers. If you're in advertising or marketing, the numbers are disheartening. To complicate matters, the survey reveals that distrust in advertising varies significantly by age and even gender.
Think about it: Today, consumers are bombarded by messages in every aspect of their lives. Because of that, they're reluctant to believe what they hear. Not only are they skeptical, they are resourceful. If a person doesn't trust an advertising message, he or she has the ability to quickly fact-check that message. And if they've been lied to? Look out. There are long-term ramifications when a brand is untruthful - especially with the accessibility and exceedingly wide reach of social media.

Here are the key findings from the survey, which polled 1,700 men and 1,700 women in the U.S., ages 18-to-67:

The main takeaway from this survey: While consumers do seem to gather information from advertising, they are skeptical of claims made and data presented. Because of that, it's critical that advertisers and marketers stay on message and provide reliable, trustworthy facts in order to gain trust in the marketplace across all generations.

1. Know your audience. The study reveals that Boomer men (26 percent) and women (21 percent) are the least likely to believe what advertisers and marketers say about their products and services, while Millennial males - a whopping 47 percent - followed by Millennial females (34 percent) are most likely to be believers. Gen X is solidly in the middle, with 32 percent of men and 29 percent of women who believe messaging. The idea that Baby Boomers are less trusting likely speaks to their life experience. These are the men and women who grew up during the birth of television, watching advertising grow from its infancy to maturity. It's safe to assume that many in the Baby Boomer generation bought products based on half-truths, learning their skepticism the hard way. If you're targeting Boomers with your messages, it's important to communicate in a simple manner, with clear, concise language to gain their trust. It's also important that the ads apply to situations that are relevant to them and reflect real life, allowing them to relate to the message.

2. Trust builds strong brands. Building and maintaining trust isn't just important for Baby Boomers, it's key for all consumers. To build and maintain trust, you must be trustworthy. That means if your ads are portraying a real problem, those situations should be relevant, realistic and relatable. Marketers and advertisers that are doing well in this realm have done extensive research. They've researched their products and tested communications and messaging with consumers to ensure that the message is compelling.

3. Do your homework. Advertisers who are missing the mark with their audience haven't done their research. If you don't know your product, your audience and how the two interconnect, you risk coming off as disingenuous and insincere to consumers. That can lead to long-term distrust associated with your brand.

4. Reach the right audience. Get to know your target demographic and seek to understand what attitudes and personality traits drive their behavior. When you know this, you'll better understand how to communicate with that audience, what they relate to and what your brand should say to them. By understanding how consumers feel about messaging, you're able to present a product or service in a way that's meaningful and memorable to them.

In the world of advertising and marketing, trust is one of the biggest challenges. You can't make someone trust you, nor can you make him or her buy your products. Trust and loyalty are earned. The best way to build trust is by developing a long-term messaging strategy that continually delivers a consistent message. When that's established, it's up to both parties to develop a lasting relationship and, hopefully, grow together for years to come.

Sign Up for the Latest News

Join the IIM Community and get helpful tips, ideas and solutions for capturing the consumer voice.