The role of trust in the marketing activities of entrepreneurs establishing new ventures

Ali, Haider and Birley, Sue (1998). The role of trust in the marketing activities of entrepreneurs establishing new ventures. Journal of Marketing Management, 14(7) pp. 749–763.



The 'credibility gap' is not often cited as a problem by marketers; for this reason marketing texts pay little or no attention to it. Yet, for the entrepreneurial marketer it may well be the most fundamental marketing challenge. Addressing the credibility gap may not have received any previous research interest, but theoretical support for its relevance abounds. Risk and its corollary, making use of trust have been seen as quintessentially entrepreneurial activities. If they do epitomise entrepreneurship, then surely, studying how entrepreneurs use trust ought to provide valuable insights into what entrepreneurs do.

While there is increasing research into trust, particularly from an organisational behaviour perspective, there is none in an entrepreneurial context. This lack of research provides the reason for the exploratory nature of this investigation.

The search for trust in this investigation focuses on entrepreneurs' usage of elements of the marketing mix. Respondents are asked about what they have done, why they have taken that course of action and what the outcomes have been.

We find that there is a wide panoply of ways in which entrepreneurs use trust, for example 'enthusiasm' and 'shared values'. The latter two are particularly important because they can lead to trust in situations where there may not already be existing relationships (the most likely place for finding trust). We also identify the methods entrepreneurs use to build trust - which they can then use to mitigate customers' perception of risk.

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