NCDM 2010: Peppers urges 'trustability'

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Miami—A new marketing paradigm is emerging, driven by social media and an accompanying customer demand for "trustability," according to customer-strategy consultant Don Peppers, in his opening keynote speech at the annual expo and conference of the National Center for Database Marketing, here Monday.

"Because of rising customer expectations for trustworthy business practices, previously acceptable marketing and sales policies are rapidly becoming obsolete," said Peppers, co-founder of consultancy Peppers & Rogers Group, in his address, "Death by Tweet: What Social Networks Can Do for Your Business."

"People now expect their interactions with companies to be like their interactions with friends," Peppers said.

Peppers said the concept of trustability connotes a higher type of customer confidence, more suited to social relationships than business. That might take the form, for example, of a company sending a customer to a competitor if his needs can be addressed better there, or refusing as company policy to make a profit from a customer mistake, he said.

"It's difficult for businesses today even to imagine this type of operation," Peppers said, "but the social revolution means trustability will soon be required of all businesses."

Peppers stressed a number of business uses of social media, including its power to create buzz around a brand or product; to engage enthusiastic supporters; to improve Internet search results; to gain insight into customer preferences and needs; and to marshal loyal customers as volunteers to help other customers with their problems.

To increase trustability, he urged companies to encourage customer reviews of their products and services directly on their own websites.

"If you're not, what are you hiding?" he said. "You must be afraid of something."

NCDM, sponsored by the Direct Marketing Association and running through Wednesday, is enjoying higher attendance of about 20% this year over the 2009 edition, with registered attendance at about 540, according to event registration personnel.

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