content marketing

How to Build Audience Trust with Content Marketing

Any sales trainer will tell you that three things must be in place before someone will buy from you:

  • They have to know you
  • They have to like you
  • They have to trust you
  • Well-placed advertising can go a long way toward making your brand known among your target audience. As for being liked, if the way you present yourself resonates with your audience, they’ll probably like you. But audience trust? That’s a harder goal to achieve.

    In an environment where just about anyone can have a website, a business address, and a video channel, buyers are often at a loss in figuring out whom they can trust. Smart marketing teams understand they can’t advertise their way into a trusting relationship. Trust is always earned, and one of the best ways to do that is through content marketing.

    What Is Content Marketing?

    According to the Content marketing Institute:

    “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

    In other words, content marketing sets aside the old marketing adage “always be selling” and focuses on delivering valuable, relevant content to your audience on a consistent basis. How do we do that? Fortunately, we have a plethora of tools at our disposal, including: blogs, social media, emails, videos, podcasts, webinars, and live events.

    Why Content Marketing?

    Consumers — both B2B and B2C — are being marketed to in every way possible. Everywhere they turn, they find another brand waxing eloquent about why its product or service is the answer to all the world’s problems. No wonder marketers have problems building trust, with all the noise out there.

    Content marketing takes a different approach.  Instead of pummeling consumers with marketing messages, we can engage them with content that’s educational, informative, inspiring, or even entertaining. Over time, a foundation of trust will emerge, and when these consumers do see your marketing messages, they’ll be more likely to take notice.

    Think about what American Express is doing with OPEN Forum, for example. They’ve created a complete online publication packed with valuable information for business owners, with no sales pitch in sight. That’s because American Express knows the value of building trusting relationships which can eventually lead to new business. This is content marketing in action.

    Who’s Your “Audience of One?”

    The days of one-to-millions messaging are gone. The key to successful content marketing is understanding the individual who represents your target audience — her needs, her interests, her frustrations, her ambitions — and delivering content that speaks directly to her. By refining your content marketing to speak to this specific target buyer, you stand a significantly greater chance of earning his/her trust.

    As you think about defining this “audience of one,” be sure to think about your overall target group as well as sub-groups and niches:

  • Once you’ve identified your primary target group, break it down into smaller sub-groups, which enables you to create content that’s based on common needs and wants.
  • Using intent signals, designate additional segments with common denominators to reach specific niches within your target markets.
  • Create personas representing the ideal customer in each segment, including specific needs, interests, challenges, and ambitions.
  • Targeting Buyers with Content Marketing

    With your market segmented and your target buyer personas created, you’re ready to start publishing content designed to resonate with those buyers. As you move forward, keep the following best practices in mind:

  • Be creative. Don’t just write your version of content that everyone else in your industry is already publishing. Offer your target audience original ideas, presented in an engaging format, and they’ll keep coming back to you.
  • Become an influencer. Instead of telling your targets to buy your products or services, be the trusted guide who helps them address their biggest challenges. By consistently publishing content that speaks to their specific needs, you’ll start building a foundation of trust that can eventually earn you a new customer.
  • Listen and respond. Monitor your blog and social media channels for comments and questions, and respond to each interaction promptly.
  • Be humble. If someone submits a question that stumps you, admit you don’t know the answer, then do your homework, and report back with the information. This will humanize your brand and help you build loyalty.
  • Become the “go to” source. Pick a few topics that represent the “sweet spot” between your expertise and your target audience’s needs, and publish about them frequently. Your audience will come to view you as the “go to” expert and trust your advice, because: (1) you’ve proven your expertise, and (2) you’re not trying to sell them something.
  • Building Credibility, Bridging Gaps

    As marketers struggle to become known, liked, and trusted in today’s hyper-competitive environment, we’re realizing that the old “always be selling” approach has gone the way of the dinosaur. Consumers don’t want to be sold to; they want answers to their problems, along with a valuable education on a given topic. They want trusted advisors who understand their biggest challenges and offer real solutions. Through content marketing, we can build audience trust in a way that establishes real, lasting relationships — and if we’re patient, those relationships will pay off in new customers, new business, and growing revenues.

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