Fame Breeds Trust These Days

According to Seth Godin, one of my favorite authors, trust is at the center of what makes a person sell a product to a particular market. In the United States, as he emphasizes, trust (for now) equates to fame for many. I think that Seth is right about this, as long as trust is defined by the people a “famous” person has on their side.

To Obama fans, Obama is trustworthy. Trump fans find him trustworthy. Putin is probably trustworthy among the people he serves. Now, all of these three leaders were famous before they were trustworthy. Obama didn’t become trustworthy on-line without fame off-line. The same goes to Trump, Putin or any other TV celebrity with millions of followers on instagram out there.  I dare to say that every recent big account on twitter was started by someone who already had some clout off-line (fame) which allowed them to be “trustworthy” on-line which resulted in them having engagement rates at ridiculous levels on a daily basis. Today, having trust equates to sales, or being elected, and so on.

No wonder why Kim Kardashian is able to sell so much merchandise. Her fame off-line allowed her to be a trusted choice for the people she serves on-line. She was Paris Hilton’s friend who probably made her “famous” by introducing her to her network which eventually turned Kim into a trustworthy brand for a group. Without off-line fame (or connections), at least in the United States today, it is very tough for anyone to build a millionaire business that deals with the public, I bet.

Reality…

I wrote over ninety columns for the Cleveland Daily Banner, here in town for about a year. There is no doubt that I became a famous local personality in this small city we call Cleveland, Tennessee, to some. How do I know this? Because people were constantly stopping me in the grocery store, gas stations, WalMart… making comments like, “Aren’t you the guy who writes for the newspaper?” “Man, I love your column!” “Would you like to come speak in our club about technology?”

The fact that my face was in one of my community’s main news outlets gave me tremendous trust in this community to a point of being invited to speak at the local Rotary Club, Civitan, United Way, WTNB, and two TV stations in Chattanooga. Think about this logic for a minute — “If Luis is writing for the Banner and people are talking about him so much in the community (fame), he therefore must be trustworthy (trust). Maybe we should bring him to our club to speak (sale).

I kind of knew this logic before through observation. Now that Seth has written about fame preceding trust in his latest book, “This is Marketing,” I’m convinced that anyone who threatens your path to “fame” (definitions may vary, of course), threatens your ability to be trusted and consequently sell whatever you offer to a viable market regardless of intentionality. More than ever, we need to pay attention to the former because appearances do matter these days.    

We live in a weird global economy where people’s fame gives them a certain level of trust. The edge of trust. At least, this is the reality in the United States, according to Seth Godin. Trust is at the center of what makes a person sell a product to a particular market. Fortunate will be those who position themselves to build “fame” in order to build trust, if their goal is to sell something to an audience. It is goofy but if Seth said so, I bet it is.

Are you a famous person to a particular group? If you are, I bet they trust you or your brand and being “famous” had something to do with it. If you are not famous, I suggest that you become “famous” to somebody if your goal is to sell a product or service. We live in a shallow world in America these days where appearance of “fame” seems to matter more than ever in sales. It is odd, I know and agree.

Are you famous? Who is trusting you? You may want to know the answer to the former questions. It may be the difference between you selling yourself (or something) to an audience these days or not.

Take note, ladies and gents.