Building on Trust: Account Statements Should Be Personalized and Integrated

In October 2008, The Journal of Communication Distribution published an article by Tim Rosenthal that shares his thoughts on how businesses can build trust with the customer and deliver messages in a chaotic marketplace. In the article, Rosenthal identifies the one channel that marketers both overlook and underutilize, that still cuts through the clutter better than any other: the monthly account statement.

In today s world of NASCAR-style marketing, consumers are inundated by unsolicited marketing messages. The decline of the traditional mass communications vehicles—i.e., large-circulation magazines, daily newspapers and radio and network television—is partly to blame. Quite simply, with the exception of expensive mega events like the Super Bowl, Olympics and World Cup Soccer, it is no longer easy to reach a wide audience via mass communication.

Also to blame is the parallel proliferation of new communications outlets, such as the hundreds of specialized cable TV channels that have and are still emerging. Perhaps even more significant is the rise of the unlimited capacity of the Internet to deliver news and information, and especially its ability to allow consumers to be proactive and search and locate information on their own terms.

Marketers themselves, who famously suffer from a herd mentality, contribute to the problem as well. Once a new and viable communications channel is discovered, marketers tend to pile on as the herd instinct for survival takes over. And an otherwise innovative communications channel, such as outbound telemarketing, is overwhelmed and eventually spurned by consumers. And even an essential stalwart in business communications such as direct mail is under attack from misguided Do Not Mail advocates.