Accelerating Value
Accelerating Value

Episode 1 · 1 year ago

Russ Somers, Trust vs Confidence: Why You Need Both

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

On this episode of Accelerating Value, we talk with Russ Somers, the CMO at Trust Radius.

Our conversation centered around:

- The difference between confidence and trust

- Why incentivizing things like software reviews actually establishes trust and creates more statistically sound data

- Positive manipulation

- How the B2B buyer journey is like a marriage

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Today. Every budget approval is an investment deal. If you're a marketer, sales or business leader, you had to promise to deliver value and impact. Writing the wave to get there is hard enough. Finding your way through the storm is even harder. If you're looking for that path forward so that you don't wipe out, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. For those of you who are just joining us, this is accelerating value. My name is Mark Stucee. This is a, I think, a really unique podcast in that we talked to all kinds of people, all kinds of functions, all levels of seniority and experience in for profit, not for profit government other kinds of organizations, about one thing, and that is how do they think about value creation? How do they invest in it, protected how they communicate it? How do they prove it? So Rust Summers is somebody I've known for a while now and his good friend and he is the CMO of trust radius. So we have just been talking as sort of like a little prelude to this podcast, and we have already talked about twelve string guitar ours and octaves and all this kind of stuff, and then we kind of merge that into a conversation about lingo, right, and how you you have a set of vocabulary that is used within specialist groups of all kinds to communicate ideas quickly and succinctly. You know this is jargon, right, but that jargon is only rarely used to exclude people, although I guess it is used that way, but most of the time it's a fast and easy...

...way of communicating in a very precise and mutually understood kind of way. So one of the things that is goes straight to is the creation of value and how we communicate it, how we talk about it, and I think that that rus you have. You have been in a roll now for a number of years with trust radius, where this is exactly, in a sense, what trust radius is all about. Right. It gives people a platform to evaluate be, to be software and to do it both technically and experientially. Right. You're a hundred percent right, and that's one of the cool things about it is we have our reviews tend to be very detailed, where process is designed to elicit a lot of useful detail. So as you go through, typically a good reviewer will actually elicit this is here I'm to how I'm defining the value that I'm getting from this piece of software, and that makes it super interesting and super useful in two ways. Number One, as a buyer, you know software buyer, I can go this person gets me, this person gets my use case. Are Using it the same way I do. They think about value the way I do. Makes Great Sense. And the flip side is for the vendor, you can actually do a match much better job of marketing yourself because you've got that value that you talk about all the time, which is hard for marketers to convey in customer language. Innately, it's in the customers language and that makes it very, very powerful, because customers stressed it right, absolutely so, when we when we talk about this, and and I really want to kind of pull on some threads here, and and and and certainly this relates to trust radius and things like that, right, but it's it's kind of far more profound than any one product,...

...and that is the role of confidence and trust in value creation. How do you how do you see this kind of playing out? Obviously this is happening in the context of trust radius, but when you read what people are writing and then how that is, how that values being created both for the vendor and for potential customers. How do you see that in terms of the confidence and trust piece? I mean the core thing is you know what happens in business without trust, right mark Ye, it all grinds to screens and, all right, no one buys anything. Right. And where people? We've always looked for information to justify our decisions or to inform our decisions, but where we get that information has changed a lot based on demographics and an interesting statistic, and one that many people don't believe on first hearing it is last year, sixty percent of major software purchases were driven by millennials. And we tend to think of millennials as people eating avocado toasts and dodging their student loans or whatever, but that's not true. millennials are if you look at the age on the cohort, they're now in their S, they have mortgages, they have kids, they are full fledged adults and, most importantly, they are driving the software purchasing process and they buy vary differently than gen X or boomers. They look to social proof first, not last. A classic, you know, sort of Gen x boomer thing is you're going to evaluate the software based on what the site says and what the analysts say. And last step, before you implement, you're going to call a friend WHO's used it. And millennials flip that on its head. Before they ever consume marketing that's been put out, the first thing they look for is what do their...

...peers think? What do other people who have used it? You know, and certainly there's always we know that word of mouth is super powerful and if you can ask a friend who's implemented that piece of software, of course you'll always do that. But a lot of times you can't, and that's okay because we are now very socialized to if we're going to buy a pizza, if we're going to rent a hotel room, we look at the reviews. We go what do other people think about this? And that's precisely now what software buyers do, which is actually a critical problem for software vendors, because you can no longer assume that the journey is going to start on your site or state, start with your trade show conversation. The journey starts in a place where, if you're not paying attention, you may not have visibility to and that is obviously searched but then looking at review sites, comparisons, etc. Right. You know, one of the one of the things that this really plays into is particularly in the text space, right, where you have a lot of startups and it's sort of a which comes first, the chicken or the egg, kind of situation, right, because one of the biggest head winds for a start up is that they don't have customers, or they have very few customers, right, and so there's not a basis for the kind of this play it forward, trust and confidence creation activity, right, and so they get kind of they can get stalled out based on this whole issue. I assume that you're probably seeing evidence of that in your own platform. I mean not not for Your Business, but I'm talking about people who are being reviewed there or not. It would be you've got a great point. They have to start somewhere and it's hard because you've only got a handful of customers. It's not like you're going to have a lot of reviews. So you know, there's there's a couple things. And Bear in mind you know me and as a marketer, what I specialize in often is being early...

...and building that early stage go to market. So getting past things like this. So there's sort of two answers. You know, the trust radius answer is you may have a hard time driving a lot of reviews, but you can still sort of claim a profile, put your content there and when you've got your one or two good customers, literally call them and say please write me a review, just to start the engine right. And then the other piece of it, which you know I've learned as a practitioner, often being, you know, an early marketer in a company, is get those first few customers and hold them close right. Just make sure that you're really engaged, that you know what they're thinking, because you get one customer and a great customer and you can repeat that all day. You look for customers like them, but you have to hold them close, which again goes to would you write me of review? Would you do this for me? Would you speak at a conference with me? Would you speak on a Webinar, etc? This is sort of a random tangential question off of this, but can if you guys got to the point when you look at all the reviews, can you tell a difference between the ones that have that are the result of a deal between the vendor and the customer, and the ones that are purely organic. That's a really good question. Oh my gosh, because we we obsess about content, quality, objectivity neutrality. We have an algorithm called tr score that's designed to weight reviews based on a number of criteria, and an obvious and non controversial one is recency. Obviously, review written last month is probably better than one written three years ago, only because software changes over time. So that's incorporated. But sources incorporated as well. Understanding. Did it...

...come from one of our campaigns? Did it come from the Vendor's campaign? If so, was the bender vendor behaving in what we deem a trustworthy manner right, or is it strictly a I'll scratch your back, you'll scratch my back? I know of one learn enterprise software company that is offering a bounty of a thousand dollars for a five star review on Gartner peer insights, and that's fine. Maybe Gartner Perry in size doesn't care about that. We do and we will watch for that and we will we may keep the review if it's an honest, trustworthy review from a real, real user, but we will change how much that affects the scoring based on if it's trusted. The other super interesting thing here is most vendors, and we on their behalf, incentivize reviews, you know because frankly, writing a review may take, you know, twenty, thirty, forty minutes. Most business people won't take right time to do stuff just for free for that. But what we find is it when we incentivize we get sort of an even distribution of scores and when you don't, you get the really mad people and the really happy people and nothing in between. So actually, by properly managing incentives and properly assessing the motivation of WHO's reviewing, which our algorithm does, you end up with a good, normal distribution of scores. It actually gives you information. Yeah, that I can see where that would be really important, because if we look at just in the on the consumer side, you know, all the different review sites and all that kind of stuff. I mean it's completely polarized. I mean if you just had the most mind blowing experience at restaurant a and your why for partner was just, you know, completely loosed and you just it was, you might be motivated enough to leave a glowing review, but otherwise it's going to take it kit you know, absolute catastrophically awful experience to get you the same level of motivation, and so I could see where that...

...would be. It's a that's a really important nuance. It's kind of you know, we think about manipulation, right, and manipulating experience and value and all that kind of stuff. In the word manipulation has a negative connotation to it, but as a parent I can tell you that there is such a things positive manipulation. That's a great perspective because, yes, sometimes I go I've manipulated you to unload the dishwasher and my evil plan works really right. I mean I honestly think of it in that regard. I think of it a couple different ways. I really think of it as compensating people for their time for a thing they didn't have to do, and as long as that's not tied if you say I'll give you a gift card for a five star review, you got problems. If you say I'll give you a gift card for an honest review and using that just to compensate people for time, it makes more sense. We also have a program called true, which stands for transparent, responsive, unbiased and ethical, and this recognize as vendors like you know, thinking about who comes to mind? AVOLARA comes to mind. I believe sap is true certified. I know that Cisco is, and it just you can think of it as GMO free for reviews. When you see that a vendor is true certified because a lot of people are trying to game the system, and when vendors are willing to make a commitment and show the proof that they're not gaming the system, then we believe those vendors ought to be elevated and perceived as even more trustworthy. Well, I think that the other part to this too is that when you're doing the promotion, so you're creating value potentially for your customer, right, and for anyone else who wants to read up on whatever their customers offering. Is Right. But but you're also...

...creating value for trust radius in a statistically valid sense, because the more reviews you get, the more statistically valid each one of them becomes. So that's a really great example of creating responsible value, real value, right, not only for all of your users individually and collectively, but for trust radius as well. Would you? Would you say that that is a one of your biggest investments as a Como is in that kind of campaign. It's I mean it's pretty big across the business for us as a company, because the value from that goes beyond marketing value. It goes to value to the overall market place that we serve. So not only do I care about it, but our chief product officer, our head of research, all of those people care about it as well. I will, if you don't mind, if I heavy out one during I get you and I both think mathematically. I grew up in the data minds, as were my first roles. I know how you think. You're very data driven. The one thing to consider is not all data points are created or Drubal and that sort of the important thing about to our score. So if it's strictly the more reviews you have, the more trustworthy the final score. Well, if your if your behavior in your review site encourages people to game the system, then you may add a lot of observations that cloud the value rather than UNV unveil at and that's why I'm you know, yes, number of reviews matter, as does are they vetted? Are they trustworthy? Do We know the source? And that that to me, is a secret sauce because what people are really looking for is, can I trust this in for absolutely? That's all they want to know. Do you? Do you guys, differentiate in your own minds? Not, I mean done. It could be on your platform as well, but between confidence and trust. But confidence versus trust? Tell me a little more.

This is an interesting question. So confidence, you know, if you look at a lot of the decisionmaking, psychographic reason search that's been done over last, say, twenty years or so, confidences as I believe you can do what you say you can do right. If you're going if you say your software can deliver all this value for me, right, then then that's I either am confident in that or I have something less than full confidence in your ability to do that. And that has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not you're a good person or a good organization where I can trust you right. So an example of this in real life that I use a lot is that I trust my wife Right, I trust it with my life literally, but I have zero confidence in her ability to drive, for Formula One race car at two hundred miles an hour, particular, with me in the in whether right. So this would this would not be a good thing. But it says nothing about how much I trust. So in a business kind of situation, you know, we there are some companies, you know that we're probably both aware of, where they are known to be past masters in their specific area, but very few people trust them, and so you kind of if you're going to use their product, you go into the negotiations with Your Eyes Wide Open, right and you understand what it is that you're going to have to bear against on the trust side of the question. So that's what I mean by the difference between these two. They know that's super provocative and I like the way you're thinking about it, because what that means is, fundamentally, confidence is about capability and trust is about character. So does your wife have the capability to drive that Formula One race car or not? Open...

...question. I don't know. I haven't evaluated her skill, but let's study that she let's say that she hasn't. Okay, let's say she's not trained in experience. That way, then confidence would be I'm not going to get in the car with you because I don't have confidence in your ability. Trust would be, I believe that if she's not capable of driving this race car with me, and at she's going to say mark, driving race cars is not in my wheelhouse. I can go around the track at thirty miles an hour, but I'm not going to put the hammer down and risk both our lives. So trust to me. The key thing is it always comes back to some element of character. And both, I think you will agree, both people and companies have character. You know, there are companies that act with integrity and there are companies that have developmental opportunities, and so the more I will always choose to do business with someone that's proven to act in a trustworthy fashion if I possibly can. It's not just capabilities. This is a great segue because one of the things that we talked to guess about on accelerating value is not just business value, but there's the whole rest of our lives. Right. So marriage is actually a really great stand in for a lot of this kind of stuff, right, because a lot of the things that you go through in route to deciding to marry somebody are remarkably like a be to be buyers motion rights, like the bottom part of that whole decisionmaking process is essentially it's no longer about you know how much fun we have and all this kind of stuff. It's about due diligence and risk mitigation. Right. So so my wife would say, she hasn't said this to me, is that I can remember, but I I'm pretty solid ground. She would say...

...this, that when that, when we were dating and everything and getting and getting progressively more and more serious, that she was evaluating two things. Am I good person? Can Am I trustworthy? Am I ultimately going to stay there with her, be a part of her life in a constructive way? All that love her, all that kind of stuff. Right. And can I hold a job? Can I make a a decent amount of money? Can I provide for my family? Can I teach our kids good life skills? All this kind of stuff, right, and that, and that and that. Both are really really important. So when you kind of think about how you see the rest of your life and the way that you create value and your family, in your community, in your advocations, music is a great one. Right, we can kind of just set some of these. How do you think about that? Like is it a do you kind of have metrics sort of or priorities? Not maybe metrics, but priorities. How do you organize value creation in your relationships with that's a really good question and super interesting, as I now deal with two teenagers as well as of my way, you taint. Yeah, you know this right. You and I live this every day. I mean the interesting thing is, and I'll go back to the dating analogy for a minute, as you're evaluating your wife and she's evaluating you and such, and my wife and I have been together something like thirty four years. So evidently the trial period was successful and we converted. But a big piece of it at that phase, if you think about it, is information asymmetry. Right, in terms of whether you're thinking about buying software or thinking about, you know, choosing to commit your life to...

...this person. There's stuff you know and stuff you don't know. You know, will this person leave their socks on the floor? Right? You know. Will this person? You know? And there's things that you can know that are what they do. Now there's also, here's the intriguing thing, there's what will they grow into? I know this person will be a great partner. Will they be a great co parent? I don't know. Will they be a great grand parent? I don't know. So you look for the leading indicators there and just to bring it back to be, to be software as an analogy. You know, a piece of that is road map, right. You know you want this is why when people buy software, they don't just buy capabilities. They want to know what the software product believes and where it's going, because that determines if you're going to have a good, long run together or if it's going to be a couple years in an upgrade, and I have always preferred the long term commitment. The other thing with the information asymmetry is if it's you and a potential spouse, there is the information they can choose to share or not. I lose my socks, leave my socks on the floor. And the information in terms of their road map. Teenagers are kind of bluntly discovering their road map. They a lot of times don't yet know what they like, what they value, what value is or value isn't. So in a lot of ways a conversation with a teenage jer is nothing more than a really enlightening discovery call. Now it's true. I mean teenagers are SASS, right, they're constantly going through modifications. So this is intriguing because you said teenagers are SASS and I'm going to say no, matter how you spell it, you're a hundred percent of ever, it's excellent. So when you are when you're sitting there with your fellow musicians,...

...how do you think about the value that you deliver to them, to other musicians? What a good question. I mean, my foundational roles musically were always base. I play Guitar, I write, I do many things, but my first roles foundationally were I bought a base and two weeks later I started a band, because it's like, how hard can that be? And the Nice thing about bass is you are inherently in a service role. You're inherently I mean there are flashy bassists. I love John at Whistle, I love Getty Lee's playing, lots of flashy people, but at the end of the day you've got to say, is this serving the song? Is it linking? And this is where you get really into music theory, but you're linking both the rhythms coming out of the drummer to the harmonic structure and they're you're also typically leading that harmonic structure. If you listen to a good basis, you will hear the chords about to change because the basis just did this. So I think of those things as basically, you know, having grown up a basis has taught me to think in terms of service, in terms of music, not just as what I'm playing look good, but does what I'm playing serve the song? Does it serve the audience? Does it serve the other players? And all good players do that. They call that heaving ears, like radar. So one of the things, you know, that marketers are really known for is valuing orchestration and and it's also, you know, in my career, one of the things that has struck me over and over and over again as how many marketers and communicators avocationally are musicians. Let Me Cory to Brawla, great example that he rewrites about it and he plays right. Do you feel like that your work in a band has, from a value creation perspective, has made you? How has that impacted your...

...ability to be a marketer? I guess the core way it's impacted. It's a good question and I think the core is it forces you to realize that you are not the whole. You are just a part of the whole. Right, you know, and and again bases. You know there's a few people you will go and watch play Solo base with no other backing, but typically you won't. So sometimes you find yourself saying, I have this Great Guitar Lick, I have this great piece and you know what, it steps on the vocal. So I'm going to take down my guitar playing, which was at Aden in terms of I was doing something awesome. I'm going to take it down to a six, not because I want to be allowsy guitar player, but because the vocal here needs to cut through. And so, even though I love this part, I'm going to change it to something less interesting on purpose. And you know what, do you mention orchestration? That super important, because you are as a marketer. You're not playing the whole song, you are just a piece of it and you have to go what role does sales play, what role does product play, what role does sees play? And if you think about those things carefully, then you can orchestrate a really great experience for your customer and if you don't, you run the risk of being a great marketer that is not moving the business forward and sinking with the others. Have you seen? There's a viral youtube video and I think the title is something like this drummer is at the wrong GIG and you have a wedding band playing a very simple, traditional song and this guy is just super showy all over the place. And that's what your risk being if you don't think about orchestration in terms of, yes, is what I'm doing good or not, but how does it fit with what everybody else is doing to the greater and which is let's create a customer, let's serve a customer,...

...let's delight a customer. So what? So, for those of you who may not know who cory to brow is, he is the Google alphabet corporate affairs and chief communications officer and he's kind of a titan in that in that line of work. One of the things that Corey talks about a lot to since he's he stands astride the same two areas that you're involved in, right, is that as a musician, he, he, you know, he grew up, you know the kind of the classic statement is, I don't read my reviews right, I don't care. I don't care what anyone says about my performance. It's not why I do it right. And that in yet that one of the things that he really learned pretty early as a communicator and as a marketer and as a business leader, is that if the only people, the only did people who determine his value is everybody else? How do you how do you think about that kind of an abroad front write your own performance, the performance of your team, the performance of trust radius out there in the market place, and how do you square that with the fact that at the end of the day, you also have to still be you or, in the case of trust radius, trust radius has to still be itself? That's a really good question. I mean, I think no business and no musician is for everyone. Right. So you know the I don't read my own reviews. You actually kind of want to because you want to know what people say, but you also want to be cognizant of the fact that the people writing reviews may actually not be your end user, your customer. So I would say you want to read that, but you also want to look at the floor and go, are people dancing right, right? Are People responding to the music in whatever way? And I think that's...

...the way you have to think about it. As a marketer, you're always going to get you know, sometimes you'll get Kudos for that was a brilliant campaign when it was literally something you did over a weekend, and sometimes you'll put months into something and it will absolutely fall flat. You can't entirely judge yourself worth based on what others think, but you have to ask what was the objective and who was the audience? Because if people that are not my potential customer ignore my marketing, I'm cool with that. It doesn't much matter if the people that I want to influence, whether it's people coming to the site to read reviews or people, you know, vendors that are can potentially use the content and tools and intent data and such to reach an audience. If the if it falls flat on them, that's a very different proposition. So, of to me I've always got to ask who's my audience and what does my audience think, and everything else is just a proxy for that. Russ has been a great conversation. Thank you so much for all you guys were on weekly. Pick your pick. You know the best way for you to consume podcast, whatever that is apple or whatever right you can. You can access accelerating value on that platform. Thanks so much. See real soon. The sooner you can optimize your marketing spend, the quicker you can start delivering clear, measurable value to Your Business. That's exactly where business GPS from. Proof analytics can help learn more at proof analytics DOT AI. You've been listening to accelerating value, where raw conversations about the journey to business impact help you weather the storm ahead. To make sure you never miss an episode,...

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