Saturday, March 15, 2008

Trust Economies

Chris Brogan links to an abstract for a downloadable document that he co-authored.

Trust Economies: Investigation into the New ROI of the Web

Julien Smith and Chris Brogan “If You Build It, They Won't Come What happened to the early days? You built a baseball stadium, a store, a web app, and people flocked to it... now what? We are suspicious of marketing. We don't trust strangers as willingly. Buzz is suspect. It can be bought. Instead, consumers and business people alike are looking towards trust. We want our friends to tell us it's good. We want someone we know to say we should look into it. Marketing spend might start at awareness, but in the Trust Economy, communities are king, and ROI stands for Return on Influence.”

And yes, it sounds similar to the Seth Godin "Marketers are Liars" book that I previously tweeted about (more here at my ego post), but I can't judge that because I haven't read either work yet. I suspect that Smith and Brogan will be read first; I'm downloading the piece now.


I read the piece, and posted my comments in Chris Brogan's blog. In case Chris has another blog problem, I'm reposting my comments below.

Thanks for providing the paper, and thanks for soliciting feedback. Personally, I think that the paper was lacking in two areas:

1. The paper talks about a “Return on Influence,” but doesn’t really provide evidence of any such return. Page 3 states that “it’s possible that building a stronger relationship will drive more recurring sales and referrals and further adoption.” Page 9 includes the phrase “when you reap the rewards.” I really want to believe you, but the paper doesn’t give me any evidence that there is such a return. I appreciate that a multi-year quantative study would be prohibitively expensive, but at least some anecdotal evidence would be good - i.e. someone who states, “Even when the guy from company A lost the sale, he continued to check in on me, not in a pushy way, AND I REMEMBERED HIM WHEN THE CONTRACT WAS REBID TWO YEARS LATER.” Without such anecdotal evidence, the claim that true engagement results in financial returns sounds like wishful thinking. (Perhaps faking friendship pays off in the long run; it’s sad to think so, but it might.)

2. Are the behaviors promoted in the paper designed to promote the company, or promote the individual? The behaviors that are discussed are individual behaviors, and if they’re only promoted on an individual basis, then the company may not benefit. Let’s restate my example above: “Even when the guy from company A lost the sale, he continued to check in on me, not in a pushy way, and I remembered him when the contract was rebid two years later. HOWEVER, HE WAS NO LONGER AT COMPANY A, AND THE NEW GUY WHO WAS AT COMPANY A WAS A REAL JERK.” Perhaps this is outside the scope of this particular paper, but what about the challenge of changing the behavior of an entire organization so that they work on nurturing relationships with their customers and potential customers? Again, anecdotal examples would work wonders.”

I hope you don’t mind my quibbles, but I just feel that the paper would have more influence if some of these things were tidied up. I noticed that the paper that I read has a “born on date” of March 5 (hope you don’t get sued by a beverage company), so perhaps these issues could be addressed in a future revision.

Again, thanks for the opportunity to comment.

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Chris Brogan said...

Hopefully, and one never knows, my blog is here to stay. : )

I really appreciate your feedback, and will comment on it.

Further, I might have the opportunity to correct the shortcomings you point out in a follow-on piece, so thank you all the more.

Ontario Emperor said...

Look forward to your comments.