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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Trust, "scams" and the Great Game of Construction Marketing

Bruce in the PSMJ Resources Blog uses the story of the late Walter Cronkite's influence in ending the Vietnam war to validate the power of trust in marketing. Meanwhile, a few days earlier, Matt Handel in Help Everybody Everyday posts a couple of videos of Brian Brushwood's presentation at SXSW Interactive 09 with a rather direct title "How to Scam Anybody". Bushwood explains how scammers -- and marketers -- use psychological manipulation techniques to influence results, and get what they want.

For many of this blog's readers, of course, Walter Cronkite is some old figure from the past. You may have been a little kid when he disappeared from the little screen (the picture I've used is of his broadcast announcing the Kennedy assassination), or weren't even born yet.

As I'm 56, I certainly remember pulling an all nighter (at age 16) watching Cronkite comment on the 1969 Apollo moon landing.

Conversely, Bushwood looks like a kid to me. But he's having fun poking holes in the assumptions people have and perceptions of what is right and what is effective. He is disarmingly trustworthy as he shows us how to play tricks with our friends (and clients). Of course, he also is on television -- web television, that is.

As you review Bruce's blog and Bushwood's videos, here is some food for thought.

  • How important is "being on television" (as yourself, not some artificially concocted "advertisement") effective in building trust? Just for fun, I prepared for this blog a brief video clip of myself. (But if the video isn't good, should you really use it? I looked at what I had prepared for this blog and, thought, "No way do I want people seeing me that way." If you want to see some really bad video, you can look at this link, however.)
  • How much time do you spend following the cliches of marketing and sales, without realizing the real focus should be on the quality of your business relationships? If you can't truly earn and sustain your clients' trust, ethically, you won't be in business long. And if you engage in unethical "tricks" to manipulate people to earn the trust, you are a con artist (and maybe should join Bernie Madoff in a federal institution.)
  • In 2009, how much more control -- and choice -- do both you and your current and potential clients have over the marketing process and relationship-building channels, than you would have had in 1969? Of course, then, as now, you could attend "Networking Events", but could you build the whole relationship-development process in online forums and with blogs like this one?
You may notice I've framed these points as somewhat rhetorical questions. Thankfully, the science and art of marketing in the construction industry has progressed far in the last 40 years.

After all, when Walter Cronkite had enough trust-generating power to influence the decision to end the Vietnam war, the association representing architectural, engineering and construction marketers, The Society for Marketing Professional Services, didn't exist. Now it has more than 6,500 members in chapters in most major U.S. cities (and one in Toronto.) Marketing has certainly advanced far and fast in this industry.

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