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Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska

A Country Song Guide to Building Consumer Trust

November 6, 2013Farmers and Ranchers, Food, General Ag

Dust off your boots and polish your belt buckles for tonight's CMAs, when country crooners will no doubt belt out tunes about beer, broken hearts and big trucks. It’s music that cuts to the chase and, in some cases, cuts to the heart of what the agriculture and food industries can do to build trust with consumers…and keep them from boot scootin’ right out the door.

Here’s your seven-step country song guide to true transparency: 

  1. “A Little Less Talk (and A Lot More Action)” by Toby Keith.  Ethical principles must guide your behavior. You can tell the public you’re driven by ethics, but that won’t cut it. They’ll judge you by your actions.  (Motivation)
  2. “Tell Me Why” by Wynonna Judd.  Explain yourself, please. You must be forthcoming with information that might even be damaging – but important to consumers. And make it easy to find that information. (Disclosure)
  3. “Always on My Mind” by Willie Nelson.  Keep consumers’ opinions in mind. Always. Seek their input, acknowledge it and take their thoughts into account. (Stakeholder Participation)
  4.  “I’m not Lisa (My Name is Julie)” by Jessi Colter.  Oops. That’s just plain embarrassing. Do you really know your customers? Demonstrate that you know what information is relevant to them – and provide it. (Relevance)  
  5. “I’m a Ramblin’ Man” by Waylon Jennings.  Don’t beat around the bush and get bogged down in industry jargon and company-speak. Get to the point. Keep it clear, concise and easy to understand.  (Clarity)     
  6. “Check Yes or No” by George Strait.   You either did it or you didn’t.  When you make a mistake, take responsibility and apologize. Don’t be the coward of the county. (Credibility)  
  7. “Here in the Real World” by Alan Jackson.  Keep it real. Provide accurate, reliable information that’s complete and doesn’t leave out important information.  (Accuracy)

In an era where the public is more skeptical than ever and demanding more transparency, this seven-step plan will no doubt be music to consumers’ ears. 

What lessons can we take away from your favorite country classics?  

The Seven Steps to Trust-Building Transparency are the result of 2013 Consumer Trust in the Food System research conducted by The Center for Food Integrity.