Tuesday, March 8, 2016

4 Ways to Build Trust Through Your Marketing Content

Which brands you trust in the "Wild West" of the Internet, and why? Which businesses automatically make you feel like you're in the right place, dealing with the right folks? These are the questions you must answer for your own business if you want to have the same effect on customers, prospects, your industry and the public at large. Of course, even the most established brand didn't suddenly win the trust of the world overnight -- these winners worked hard to present an image that makes people turn to them every time for answers to specific needs. And if they can do it, so can you. Here are four marketing content strategies you can start employing right now to inspire trust in your business.

1. Be Human

Remember the image of the traveling snake oil salesman hawking his Miracle Potion as the cure for everything from head colds to insanity? There's a reason those guys got out of town as soon as they made a few quick bucks off a gullible public. "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is," goes the popular saying. Don't let them say it about your brand!

The bigger the claims a person makes, the harder they are to believe -- especially if all the news is good news. Some companies fill their websites with bold proclamations about they're the best or only solution to every possible problem their target audience may have -- exuding a whiff of Ye Olde Snake Oil in the process. That's why admitting your limitations can actually serve as a strong trust-building measure. Point out that you're not perfect, but add that you listen to your customers in an ongoing effort to refine your products and services, no matter how terrific your offerings already are. A few human imperfections can go a long way toward humanizing your image.

2. Display Endorsements

Nothing beats word of mouth for sheer marketing power. A staggering 89 percent of customers regard testimonials as the most persuasive marketing strategy of all, and 70 percent of them look for customer reviews before they'll even consider a given brand. You've guessed the next logical step -- post positive reviews and testimonials! It's a simple matter to post text excerpts or links to longer testimonials on your website and social media channels. (It might even be possible to talk a few of them into giving video testimonials for posting on YouTube.)

If your business has a presence on Yelp or some other high-profile business review channel, be aware that you may attract both positive and negative statements. But don't let those critical comments just lie there and fester -- respond to them with the appropriate mix of genuine concern, professional courtesy and (where applicable) gentle rebuttal. The company that seems to care about what its customers say will gain more trust than one that apparently doesn't.

3. Stay in Touch

What are your own trusted advisors currently up to? Chances are that you know because they routinely check in with you to brief you on their newest service, answer any questions you've put to them and generally keep the information pipeline running smoothly. That's part of the reason they've earned your trust -- and it's something you should do to cultivate trust in others. You can present a more transparent, public-oriented image by issuing press releases, publishing white papers, uploading case studies and blogging regularly on all the latest doings in your company and industry. This gives the impression of an organization that genuinely wants to stay in touch with the world around it and keep its clientele as informed as possible.

Of course you can also reach out and touch your customers and prospects even more directly through the use of targeted emails and print marketing pieces. The smartest, most precise way to do this is by creating a "drip" campaign that automatically sends specific pieces based on a recipient's previous action (purchase, web page visit, abandoning a shopping cart, etc.) If you don't have that mechanism in place just yet, consider sending out periodic tidbits such as monthly email tips or quarterly postcard reminders to keep you top of mind and in communication.

4. Offer Added Value

How much easier is it to place your trust in someone who delivers even more than promised? Going above and beyond the call of duty is a great way to build trust, and your business can achieve that goal by added value in the form of extra content marketing goodies. Maybe you can send a thank-you discount coupon for every X amount of dollars spent, for example, or offer a helpful e-book or white paper absolutely free to anyone who fills out a simple contact form. Sending thank-you and holiday cards is another great way to give your customers something extra to smile about -- and those smiles are worth their weight in trust.

Take these ideas to heart and put your content marketing to work to raise your brand's trust factor. It's easier than you might think -- and more powerful than you can imagine.