Effective Marketing is Freedom of Choice & Building Trust

effective-marketing-freedom-choice-build-trustOne of my most effective roles is playing devil’s advocate. I have always had a knack for thoroughly thinking through an idea and picking it apart piece by piece until it is either abandoned or reinforced to the point where it is a sure-thing. Why does this matter? Because I am about to go against some well-supported marketing practices.

I have read numerous articles and heard from many consultants that the best way to do marketing is to offer the consumer something and throw a form at them to fill out. Although this is great for tracking marketing results, it leaves consumers with 2 choices: fill out the form, or get the hell out. I think this is a problem.

Many marketers believe that the most important thing is to capture consumer information so you can ‘market’ the hell out of them later. Instead, I suggest that marketers focus on bringing consumers to actively engage themselves. Give consumers an option! Allow them to call you, email you, fill out a form – whatever they want. If you hide all your information behind a form, many will people will baulk – leaving you with nothing. Instead, give them options like: “or give us a call” and provide a phone number.

Perhaps a campaign could be designed to inform them through a number of steps before asking for information. The point is, people need time to develop an interest in your product/company and gain trust before they are willing to give you all the goods. Some people are particularly protective of their information and they will be unlikely to comply to a simple offering if, in order to receive said offering, they need to give up their personal information. Perhaps try offering something first and then asking for information instead of the other way around.

Consider the following example: a guy is out making his rounds at a bar asking girls for their phone numbers and asking if they want to come home with him. Would he be more likely to succeed if they first get to know him, see what he’s all about and then he asks? Or should he simply offer a pickup line and hope to take her home? (a crude example, I know, but hopefully a good one).

Is it more important to get the information immediately at the cost of some customers walking away? Or should we work on building trust and work on our patience in dealing with customers?

2 thoughts on “Effective Marketing is Freedom of Choice & Building Trust

  1. Great post Dave!

    I certainly agree with the idea that consumers should have options (forms as well as other things). I guess the biggest argument against the idea of giving something away for free online is conversion tracking, which ultimately falls into lead generation and lead nurturing. The primary reason why things like whitepapers/case studies etc are put behind a form are because then companies can use them to track conversion rates on websites and that can become a first step in the lead generation process. Depending on the site of course there are other methods of tracking conversion; however, especially among B2B sites (which I’m sure you know), this method is quite common.

    It’s a great idea though and I think offering goods for free and having consumers come back with the intent to fill out a form is pretty effective way of finding customers who are genuinely interested!


    1. Thank you for elaborating Shum. I point out in my post that it is a trade-off between this tracking and properly engaging users. Many marketers choose to worry less about the user and more about their own stat-tracking. I believe it is a shame

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