It use to be that marketing involved seven touch points, ie seven points of contact with a consumer before a customer would make a buying decision. With scams reported in the news, a risky economy, and high unemployment, it will take a lot more than seven touch points of contact. Consumers have become less trusting as they continue to follow the news and react to investigative reporting showing scams and the operation of untrustworthy businesses attempting to survive in a more challenging economy.
In previous post recession eras, small business was the engine that jump started the economy and brought unemployment levels back down to pre-recessionary levels of around the five percentile range. The recovery has been slow in part because small businesses have not been able to make contact with consumers. The depth and length of this recession is greater than recent economic downturns. The combination of GDP decline, unemployment rate, and length of recession is also clearly seen by the public in today's modern media outlets. People see how deep we went and the scope of unprecedented bailouts and stimulus packages that were required to prevent a complete nose dive like the Depression of the 1930's.
The general consumer is scared and can't trust small business. For that matter, the Federal Government hasn't had good consumer ratings since the downturn at the tail end of George Bush's presidency. Now in his second term, President Obama continues to make progress in the recovery. However, the slow progress coupled with a second term president reduces consumer confidence. Not in all cases, but in many a second term president has more confidence from Americans than that of his first. Most recently consumers have lost trust due to costly, lengthy wars with longer tours of duty, the debate on health care reform, the IRS debacle with nonprofits and tea-party groups, etc.
Small business are in a new era and must operate in a totally new way to survive. The Great Recession changed how consumers think. The customer or client of small business doesn't exist any more. They have changed. They trust less and are more educated. They are looking at the benefits of a product or service rather than the features. They are looking for a definitive affirmation from a business as to what is being given to them. Consumers are looking for absolute promises that can be trusted. Proving that trust is what many small businesses fail at. Even trustworthy businesses may not be given trust by the consumer if they can't prove it. The actions of a business speak louder than the words in any pre-recession marketing material. Businesses must invest in acting on a promise rather than writing about it in marketing material. In today's modern age of social media and digital multimedia, the word of mouth and accolades is what will keep a business alive.