Consumer confidence in media has declined dramatically. Only 12% of consumers trust television news, down from 55% three years ago. The percentage of people who believe in organizations is also down from 28% to 12%.

The simple and ugly fact is they don’t believe you as much as they used to. What makes these people so skeptical?

I believe there are two primary reasons:

1. North Americans are exposed to 4 times the amount of advertising Europeans are exposed to. One study shows the average North American decision maker receives upwards of 30,000 commercial messages per day. This mostly means messages get lost in the clutter.

2. Many college graduates have done at least one marketing course and so have a much better feel for hype and what’s going on. Too much marketing is simply hype and knowledgeable people see right through it.

So what can the average business owner do to combat this?

  1. Generate word-of-mouth marketing. Referrals are still the most powerful method of marketing because people trust their friends as credible sources of data. Referrals are free and close at 5 times the rate of leads from all other sources. 85% of all buying decisions are made on the recommendations of others.
  2. Influence people who are centers of influence. Why do you think firms like Nike and L’Oreal use celebrities like Michael Jordan and Penelope Cruz to endorse their products. Who would be the most likely people to influence your customers?
  3. Focus on what’s most important to your target audience. Understand their pain and offer solutions to their pain. This kind of educational marketing will always outshine image advertising and marketing. If you don’t understand their pain, you’ve got work to do.
  4. Go for share of mind over share of market. It’s better to have a small well defined niche of customers so involved with your product or service that they promote your products freely and willingly. Some Harley-Davidson customers tattoo the brand’s logo on their bodies and become permanent walking billboards.
  5. Use guerrilla marketing tactics. These tactics are generally inexpensive, but provide great exposure. A great example, despite its going wrong and getting the people involved arrested, was the activity with the Aqua Teen Hunger Force cartoon and the blinking light electronic models set up in Boston during the last week of January 2007.
  6. Expand your advertising with direct marketing and public relations. If people don’t believe advertising, they are much more likely to believe what the media tells them or personalized communications that speak to them as individuals. PR and direct response give you the opportunity to put forth personalized and believable messages.

Street Smart Marketers willingly face the reality that consumers are wise to the ways of marketing. It’s time to use marketing that looks less like hype and more like news, education and personal communication. As David Ogilvy said; “The consumer is not an idiot, she’s your wife.”

You can learn more about how to do each of these in my Rapid Growth Mentoring Program.