Trust is important in life and content marketing. Let me explain…
Like most dogs, I love car rides. Head out the window, wind blowing back my ears, the landscape whizzing by – what’s not to like? Plus, car rides usually take me to places I want to go, like the office, a friend’s house or the park.
But, every now and then, I end up at the vet. The worst part of this experience is that I feel like I’ve been tricked. My human says “car ride” in that happy, excited voice that I associate with adventure. He pretends we’re going somewhere fun, but then I see that scary building and my legs start to shake.
I look up at him with shock and think, “Hey, I trusted you!” I might think twice about getting in the car the next time.
Dogs and people do not like to be betrayed. You can lure us over with the promise of treats, but if your motive is trickery, you’ll lose our trust.
Why Trust Matters?
According to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, which is the most authoritative annual study of trust and why trust matters – the U.S. suffered a serious loss in trust regarding major institutions (government, media, business) during 2017. Even trust in social media, such as Facebook and Twitter declined.
This erosion of trust means that it’s harder than ever to gain the public’s confidence. And, without trust, it’s nearly impossible to form a relationship and make a sale.
There’s plenty of evidence that supports the fact that companies win business from competitors due to trust, rather than simply price and features. Customers believe the promises you make regarding your products and services. In fact, more than 73 percent of consumers consider transparency more important than price, and nearly 40 percent say they would switch from their preferred brand to one that offered more transparency (Inc. 2018).
There Are No Secrets
This makes sense when you consider that today’s consumers have information at their fingertips. They want to know everything about a company and its products or services before they make a purchase decision. And, savvy consumers know the difference between “quality” information (i.e., the benefits of giving your dog highly-digestible rawhide) and a sales pitch (i.e., our rawhide bones are the most awesome!). If all you’re doing is offering features and benefits in your content marketing, you’re probably not earning trust.
Content marketers need to put themselves in the shoes of their audience and ask: What problems can I help them solve? How can I make their jobs/lives easier? What information do they need to justify a purchase? How can I simplify their decision-making process?
And, while you’re educating and informing your audience with content marketing, you need to be more transparent than ever.
1. Educate your customers.
You can give commands to your dog all day long, but if you haven’t taught him or her to do what you’re asking, it all sounds like “blah, blah, blah.” The same can be said for potential customers. Instead of talking at them, teach them something with your content.
“Educational content creates the kind of cheerleader who will outsell your sales team by a 10-1 ratio,” says Laura Casselman, CEO of JVZoo.
2. Listen to your audience.
When my human is not paying attention to me, I whine. If that doesn’t work, I bark. Are your customers barking at you? Effective communication goes in both directions. So, instead of just pushing out lots of content that may or may not be relevant or interesting to your audience, try getting some feedback first.
When you post something, ask for a response. Then use those responses to build future posts. You can also try surveying your audience, hosting focus groups, and asking your sales team what customers are talking about. If you use a marketing automation platform, you can also see what types of content potential customers are engaging with at each stage of the buying journey and nurture them along the way.
3. Admit your mistakes.
I know this can be hard to do. Who wants to own up to stealing food or chewing up a rug? However, admitting you made a mistake is the best way to retain a customer’s trust. The best scenario is to acknowledge a mistake before you receive negative feedback. But if that’s not possible, responding “after the fact” with sincerity and solutions is far better than trying to hide the truth. (Trust me, people will eventually figure out who chewed up the rug.)
4. Keep your promises.
Actually, the first step here is to not make promises that you can’t keep! People already distrust advertising – claims of being the biggest, best or most beneficial can come off as insincere without facts to back them up. Content marketing that simply brags about your company and makes empty promises only destroys trust.
Case in point, I once destroyed an “indestructible” toy. However, when my human returned it to the manufacturer, they replaced it without questions because it didn’t live up to its lofty claims. While we weren’t happy that the toy didn’t last, the manufacturer earned our trust by standing behind its product. Perhaps, saying the toy is tough, rugged or long-lasting is more “truthful.”
The bottom line: Position your products and services in the most honest light – addressing both what they can and can’t do. And, then work tirelessly to meet promised deadlines, budgets, training, support, etc. Let your content reflect these brand promises.
We have a new puppy in our office family. He wanted free reign in the office and was whining because he had to be supervised. I wisely told him that trust is earned. As soon as he proved he could be trusted, he would get his freedom. It hasn’t happened yet, but we’re working on it.
Take the time and make the effort to earn your customers’ trust and you’ll be rewarded with their loyalty (and possibly other treats).