Re-establishing Trust in a Post-Pandemic World
Jordan Kelley, Content Director, BrandStorytelling.tv
We’ve experienced between eight to ten years of social innovation in the last five months, yet almost none of it is based on technology. In that time, technologies and systems that were once deemed sacred have demonstrated that they are no longer sacred and things we counted on to be reliable have proven not to be reliable. While there tends to be an impulse amongst the masses in this country that things will return to the way they once were, there’s also a majorly pervasive lack of trust abound in the present. Preoccupation with waiting for things to “get back to normal” means missing out on a massive opportunity to shift your brand’s perception and provisional value in the immediate future.
Recently, Shelly Palmer (CEO, the Palmer Group) dove deep to discuss some of the implications of this immediate future. Palmer has made a career of this - his consulting practice helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. He is the co-host of the “Think About This with Shelly Palmer & Ross Martin” podcast, covers tech and business for Good Day New York, writes a weekly column for Adweek, and is a regular commentator on CNN and CNBC. Suffice it to say his opinion is highly valued, and in his opinion, the upheaval brought on by the global pandemic and our social and behavioral shifts as a country present a serious opportunity for businesses to change. “There are massive changes you’ll likely make in the present and near future,” says Palmer, “the question is how will you evaluate your opportunities and resources going forward? What should you trust?”
There are those who see new opportunities in a post-pandemic world, and there are others who don’t. According to Palmer, that is a mistake. “There doesn’t seem to yet be enough awareness around the massive changes coming in a post-pandemic world” says Palmer. “People want to gather, and nothing is going to stop that, but other things, like telemedicine, video conferencing, streaming, and more are going to have a longer ripple effect on society.” According to Palmer, people’s habits and perceptions are obstacles to a more universal understanding of where the world is headed. Rather than looking back at what was working or to the masses for their opinion that things will “go back to normal”, look at what has not just survived, but thrived during this moment of upheaval. Odds are there’s something there worth betting on. But this raises the issue of another commodity in short supply during this moment: Trust.
Trust is the least available and most valuable asset a person, product, brand, even a government can have right now. Society at large is looking up at the systems and infrastructure that previously provided them the comfort and safety of trust, and now that trust simply isn’t there. With the State and Federal Governments at odds with one another in a very public way and an election around the corner, the emergence of the largest anti-racist movement in many people’s lifetime, and the call for capitalist organizations to speak to these very public issues has put trust (or lack thereof) in the spotlight. And yet for any company trying to weather the current storm, trust is paramount. Right now, the only way to get it is to earn it, and the only way to earn it is to listen to and communicate with the consumer base. What can you do right now to identify the people’s needs and work to respond to them honestly? Some industries are in a much better positions than others to make this happen right now, but all are faced with the same uphill climb: working to provide value and build trust in one of our nation’s most distrusting moments.
Although the circumstances can seem bleak, ultimately now is time to simply observe. Keying into Palmer’s observations and turning them into actionable items means asking some key questions. What innovations are here to stay? How can you utilize and take advantage of those innovations? What reason did consumers have to engage with something pre-COVID? Can it be replaced with something safer for the moment? Data is not enough to determine what to do next, says Palmer. It requires the combination of information, observation, and innovation to find the creative solutions that will bring you through the current moment. If you can learn to reflect the culture that you serve, you can learn how to operate in an uncertain future and rebuild consumer trust.