Judging by the content that’s out there, content marketing appears to be all about generating content in the hopes it’ll go viral. We want our articles, blogs, thought pieces, videos, vines, tweets and posts to be the magic bullet driving sales to new heights.But level with me, is yours doing that? Have you produced a single viral anything? What’s the latest ROI for each piece you’ve produced? Are you happy with the results of your current content campaign? Is your strategy based on buzzwords or hard data? Do you really know what makes one piece of your content more popular than another? Do you care about any of these questions?If you care, and the answer to these questions is a shake of your head or a shrug (like 70% of CMOs), I’ve got the answer to why your stuff isn’t working. Your content isn’t trusted. (Boom! Mic drop!)
The Cruz campaign aside, trust isn’t a label you apply to yourself or your brand, it has to be earned. And it’s earned incrementally over time. We’ve all been there. How long did it take you to earn your parent’s trust when you wanted to start dating, drive, or any one of a dozen different milestones in a child’s life? And it’s not just about you. In my family, trust was earned at different rates for each of us, and sometimes, a younger sibling took longer to earn trust based on an older sibling’s actions. (We’re over it, mostly.)
In the digital age, brands need to be focused on earning trust, not selling. And that means understanding the psychology of trust and how to build it. Here are the five aspects of trust you need to address if you want to succeed:
Trust is incremental.
Every relationship is at some point on a continuum. My level of faith in the government is at one level, while my faith in my sewing machine is higher. Ideally we trust our spouse the most. Smart companies accept this and continually work to address and improve their trustworthiness across the entire spectrum.
Trust is difficult to earn and easy to lose.
Today, consumers value information and recommendations shared by their friends rather than brands. Younger consumers (Millennials especially) prefer to be the one to approach a brand rather than the traditional sales approach of brands broadcasting to consumers. Once trust is earned to the extent a purchase is made, if the user’s experience is less than optimal, the level of trust drops. One horrid experience, and trust is lost forever. On the other hand, a great experience transforms consumers into strong brand advocates, urging their friends to use your products creating more brand advocates. You literally can’t buy that kind of marketing. All I’ll say is Volkswagen.
Trust is authentic.
You really can’t fake it. Exaggerated claims, shady content or anything remotely disingenuous costs you the first step in building trust, the willingness to spend personal time getting to know you and learning more about you as a brand. In our world, time is a precious commodity not spent lightly. So if you waste my time with a bait and switch approach to content, pretending to value me as a seeker of information and then delivering a traditional sales pitch, you’ve lost me; worse, you’ve lost any possibility to repair the damage done.
Trust is a reciprocal relationship.
Consumers are increasingly less loyal. My mom bought Duz laundry soap from the early 1950s to the mid-1960s; the payoff was a complete set of the Golden Wheat 22k-trimmed china collected one piece at a time from each box of laundry soap. Once the bonus items no longer interested her, she switched to Tide for the next 30+ years. On the other hand, Millennials are loyal consumers until they find a better price or a company combining sales with philanthropy. Remember the fiasco that was “New Coke?”
Trust is a precious asset.
It’s not an inconsequential aspect of your business; 84% of an S&P 500 company’s assets are intangibles according to a 2015 Ocean Tomo study. Intellectual property, trust and brand recognition constitute those intangibles. It matters to consumers, and it matters to your employees. Does it matter to your bottom line? You bet it does. A study by Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration found hotels with managers who were trusted by their employees were significantly more profitable, to the tune of more than $250,000 per year.
No matter what business you’re in, trust is the bedrock of your relationship with your audience. Earning and growing their trust should be the guiding light of your marketing. It’s human nature to avoid bad decisions or putting our faith in the wrong company. Finding the right ways to build the relationship takes creativity, vision and insight. It doesn’t require another piece of content blasting out another gimmicky message.
If you’re wondering where to start or how to do this, give EVG a chance to show you how we build trust, one partnership at a time.
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Kathleen Gossman – Project Manager