3 min read

The Trust-Commitment Axis

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As marketers, there are no shortages of ways we can invest ad dollars. In fact, I'm sure you get plenty of pitches in your inbox every day with promises of a "top secret, proprietary algorithm GUARANTEED to 10X your RoAS". So while the allure of shiny objects may occasionally be entertaining (see also: after a "bad month"), one of my favorite exercises to actually generate higher returns is called The Trust-Commitment Axis.


What is The Trust-Commitment Axis?

The Trust-Commitment Axis was born out of one too many conversations about last-touch attribution, specifically as it relates to Out of Home advertising. Most specifically, billboards.

As data and insights evolve for the final frontier of advertising, there was an early rush to associate someone seeing a billboard and a measurable lift in foot traffic. And while that was initially quite appealing, it was flawed logic and did not account for a number of variables. Variables like how established is your brand? What is your typical sales cycle? And how does that all relate to your target audience?

For McDonald's, it could make sense to measure how many people were exposed to specific billboards and subsequently visited a McDonald’s. McDonald's is a household brand, and they sell hamburgers, not something that requires a lot in the way of resources like time for consideration of alternatives or financial commitment.

CONCLUSION: They have a trusted brand and are low in terms of commitment (inexpensive, easy decision).

Here's what that would look like in practical application…

Okay cool, how do you use it?

Self-awareness is a good thing and The Trust Commitment Axis is a great exercise for a quick reset or realignment because once you’ve got that right, then we get to have fun.

Here are 4 strategies to get you started:

No one knows me...yet + Low Commitment

Good news here is that the thing you sell doesn't require a lot in the way of consideration, be it time, money or both, which means customers are probably already spending money on what you have.

The bad news is that because of that, there is probably a lot of competition. I'm assuming you have product-market fit, so we won't get into whether people are spending money on what you sell (or are willing to) so finding a way to differentiate is going to be key.

Considering the nature of this quadrant, decisions are likely to be made quickly so emphasizing convenience, ease of access, and instant gratification are going to be important.

If you can get to the top of the Trust axis, the world is yours so always be building trust throughout all parts of your business.

PRO TIP: Not sure which one to emphasize? Go check out your competitor's bad reviews. Then, do like Pitbull does "turn a negative into a positive". Make their weakness your selling point and use the bad review for copy inspiration.

No one knows me...yet + High Commitment

Okay, we've got some work to do, but you probably knew that already.

Building trust is going to be important, so where 'convenience' and 'ease of access' were important for Low Commitment decision-making earlier, you're going to want to focus on proving you know what you're talking about and how you're the expert/authority.

PRO TIP: Focus on campaigns that demonstrate you are a Top Brand in your category. Incorporate lots of social proof from people who have already given you money and like you. If you're just starting out, demonstrate your expertise by giving ideas, tips, and tricks. Make your audience think about the problems they have and consider how you may help them.

I’m kind of a big deal + Low Commitment

Congratulations, the world is yours but don't rest on your laurels yet...or ever because someone else sees the nice kingdom you've built for yourself and how it just prints money, and they want in.

Challengers to your kingdom will be plenty, so you'll need to continue doing the things that got you to the top, every day. Be scrappy, be a gamer, and crush all those who challenge you because you’ve got the bankroll to do it now.

PRO TIP: The best defense is a good offense so stay hammer down. GEICO could take their foot off the gas, they've built an iconic brand! And 30 days later after slowing down they’d watch their market share evaporate. Keep evolving and never take a day off from what brings you success.

I’m kind of a big deal + High Commitment

The Great White Buffalo - a high-trust superpower in a high-commitment category.

You are T. Rowe Price (no relation, I swear. I probably wouldn’t be writing this if there were) and people trust you to take care of their finances for the duration of time we are flying through space on this bright blue orb. That's a big deal.

Getting here is a game of patience, persistence, and a true passion because without it, you'll give up and pivot to something else.

PRO TIP: Do all the things that the other quadrants have to do and make the commitment to do them longer. Consistency is the key, as it is with most things in life, but especially here. Keep going.

So, that's The Trust-Commitment Axis.

How can you use it for a realignment for your next campaign?

Read the case study!

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