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MARCC event summary: The three components of Trust: Professor Grayson, Associate Professor of Marketing, Kellogg School of Management

Aug 15, 2023 by Michael McNerney

MARCC events are designed to help industry participants elevate their thinking – to get beyond the day-to-day demands and urgent issues to focus on critical concepts and trends driving our industry forward. This year’s July 31 event in New York continued that tradition by underscoring the fundamental importance of trust. 

Key Takeaways

  • Trust expresses our willingness to have others do things on our behalf. It has three critical components: competence, honesty, and benevolence. 
  • Just as trust is central to customer relationships, working with trusted partners helps brands build stronger bonds and increased revenue through brand association.
  • Preserving consumer trust in partner editorial is critical to the success of our industry and why savvy brands understand why content relationships must always put the customer first.
  • Trust also powers the scale and market share of Amazon, and brands need to consider their options for marketing with Amazon as they formulate future growth plans. New and established performance marketing products allow brands to participate in the Amazon ecosystem. 


Years ago, marketers focused enormous attention and resources on garnering shelf space at retail. But the modern-day “shelf space” fight is on publisher websites, where most consumers learn about and select products. Optimizing that shelf space is central to brands’ success.  Their partner relationships should reinforce the messaging, pricing, and product.

According to the thirteen thought leaders who spoke individually and as part of the event’s expert panels, trust is the most crucial element of a successful brand. Our diverse speakers' perspectives made a powerful case, stressing how trust relationships between investors, brands, publishers, agencies, and consumers make a crucial difference in driving results. 


Consumer Trust and “Trust Tests”


We are grateful to longtime Martech Record partner for sponsoring our first session, a lecture by Professor Kent Grayson of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Dr. Grayson kicked off our day by discussing his many years of work studying the importance of trust in customer relationships. Dr. Grayson is a leading authority on the centrality of trust relationships in marketing. While most people intuitively understand the importance of brand trust, Dr. Grayson’s work focuses on how trust relationships increase efficiency and profitability. 


“In trust relationships, we voluntarily ask others to do things on our behalf. In trust relationships, there are three dimensions: 1)Competence, that they are well qualified to perform the task; 2) Honesty, that they keep their promises and 3)Benevolence, or the sense that others have our best interests at heart.”


According to Dr. Grayson’s research, “trust tests'' are critical moments in brand relationships when problematic circumstances create stress on trust. These are moments when consumers ask:


  1. Is the problem the brand’s fault, or are there outside circumstances creating the issue
  2. Are they being straightforward or trying to pull one over?
  3. Are they trying to stick it to me?


Interestingly, Dr. Grayson’s research suggests that people are more forgiving of negative information on competence – that the brand made a mistake, than on benevolence and honesty, where the brand's character comes into question. These are important lessons as we navigate rapidly changing environments and economic pressures. 


Great Conversations and Networking and Networking


Making connections is an integral part of the MARCC model. This year, we are grateful to three fast-growing agencies who cosponsored our networking session, Gen3 Marketing, LT Partners, and PartnerCentric. With an unprecedented number of brand, agency, network, and publisher attendees, MARCC proved a great place to forge new partnerships.




Partners Share Additional Insights

In the spirit of collaboration, MARCC partners shared their own data and insights with attendees. Here are links to valuable partner resources: 

Gen3 shared their recently released State of the Nation Affiliate Marketing Report (including insight from Martech Record).

PartnerCentric shared their Incrementality Index & Power Rankings, a data driven assessment of content types and performance. shared their new Commerce Content Hub, loaded with insight for publishers.  

Rakuten Advertising recently published and shared their new eBook on Influencer Marketing.  


Martech Record thanks our sponsors, speakers, and attendees for making our fourth live event successful. We wish you great luck in forging new partnerships centered around trust.