In 2012, an Adobe study found that advertising/marketing was one of the least valuable professions to society--just 13% of survey respondents ranked it as valuable. In 2015, a 4As study found that only 4% of Americans think the marketing industry behaves with integrity, ranking it below Congress and cable news. This trend is not recent; in the four decades Gallup has surveyed Americans about the honesty and ethical standards of different professions, no more than 14% have ever ranked Advertising Practitioners very high or high. Currently, Advertising Practitioners share the bottom of the list with car salespeople, telemarketers, and lobbyists.
And if consumers don't trust us, they certainly cannot trust our work. A recent study from Experticity found what every other study has about consumer trust in advertising and marketing communications: Less than half of consumers—47 percent—trust or believe advertising, and the same is true (49%) with social media campaigns. By now we've seen so many of these studies that it hardly needs to be pointed out that family and friends, along with online reviews, earn 50% more trust than the output created by marketers.
And if you think the issue is only with consumers, guess again. A 2012 Fournaise study of CEOs found that "80% of CEOs admit they do not really trust and are not very impressed by the work done by Marketers — while in comparison, 90% of the same CEOs do trust and value the opinion and work of CFOs and CIOs."
If only there were a profession to which marketers could turn to influence public perception and impact consideration of the profession! I'm not sure what it says when the discipline responsible for promoting and selling cannot promote or sell itself, but whatever it is, it isn't very complimentary.
What can the marketing industry do to begin to have a positive impact on its reputation and trust? I suggest four courses of action:
- Action #1: Champion the difficult
- Action #2: Stop celebrating the meaningless
- Action #3: Embrace your inner geek
- Action #4: Adopt customer experience
To learn more about each of these action items and what it will take for the profession of marketing to rise to the same level of respect and trust enjoyed by pharmacists and accountants, please continue reading my complete blog post on Gartner.com.