Earning Trust in Business


Trust can’t be bought, it must be earned. In business, so much of our dealings are based on trust. Even though we have moved away from handshake deals to lengthy business contracts, we still ultimately like to do business with people we truly trust. As service professionals, we all want to be “trusted advisors.” When discussing trust, I always think about Robert De Niro’s character in the movie Meet the Parents who tells Ben Stiller’s character that he is outside the “circle of trust.” None of us wants to be outside the circle of trust with friends, family, or clients. Stephen M.R. Covey (son of Stephen Covey and author of the bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) wrote an interesting book a few years ago entitled The Speed of Trust in which he gives practical guidance on how we all can develop a greater level of trust in our relationships. He convincingly argues that trust is not a touchy feel emotion, but something that is real, quantifiable, and that measurably affects both the speed and cost of doing business.

When it comes to choosing an advertising agency, businesses are placing trust in who they get to help them achieve their business objectives. There are many very good advertising agencies in the state of Mississippi. I recently had the opportunity to sit down and visit with Sutton Marks and his son Peter Marks, who represent two generations of leadership in the advertising industry. Sutton Marks’ father founded Gordon Marks & Company in 1939 when Sutton was eleven years old. Sutton grew up working in the family business and joined the company full time in 1951. His father, Gordon, worked well into his 80’s and came into the office until weeks before his death. Gordon would often say that, “I wish I was young enough to do it all again.” It sounds to me that he was a man who loved his life’s work. Sutton ran the firm until he approached retirement age and decided in 1990 to merge his agency in with Maris, West & Baker which had been formed in 1970 by Gerrit Maris, Norman West, Roy Baker, and Harry Brown. Today, Maris, West and Baker is a full service advertising agency with twenty two employees.

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