Have you ever stopped to think about what content marketing is really all about?
Sure it is about telling the story of your brand and answering questions that your customers have about your products and services in a "non-salesly" fashion, but deep down brands that do content marketing well do it for something more than those things.
The brands that do content marketing better than their competition are the the companies that realize at the end of the day content marketing is about building trust.
Whether you are creating content for new prospects, current customers, industry analysts or someone else entirely, the real purpose behind those efforts should be to build a higher level of trust between the consumer of the content and the brand creating it.
Content Marketing Everywhere Makes Trust Key
If you stop to consider the fact that there are 347 blog posts created every minute, you will probably come to the conclusion that we have entered the age of information overload. Beyond blogs, there are videos, Facebook and Twitter posts, and, of course, all of the information that comes our way over email.
Beyond the new content being created and shared online everyday, we are exposed to a massive amount of advertisements in a given day. In fact, the average internet user will see about 5,000 advertisements each day.
With so much information being created for us and thrown at us each and every day, it is important to remember what will really make us stand out.
Some companies will argue that it is the frequency of content or the quality of the content. I believe that both of those things play a role, but would tell you that they are less important than you may think.
For most brands, especially those that don't have endless financial wherewithal to spend on their marketing efforts it comes down to creating content that builds trust between the brand and the consumer.
Talking about building trust through content marketing is one thing, however, doing it effectively is another.
If you are a brand looking to increase trust between your company and those you are creating content for, then I believe the following five steps are the key to building greater levels of trust with your audience:
1. Define Your Audience and Outcomes
Brands must always be thinking about who they are writing for and why they are writing. It is much easier to build trust (and sales) when the right reader is given the right content. Then brands must think about why they are writing. I suggest they ask themselves, what is the goal of our content marketing campaign? If trust is the object, then make sure not to push too hard, too soon.
2. Determine Content Type, Frequency and Location
While the type, frequency and placement won't in itself build trust, you have to think about whom you defined as the audience and show them that you are interested in them. If your audience primarily seeks content via email then make sure you make it available to them. Trust starts by putting the information they want in places where they can benefit from it. Great content marketing that isn't seen, will not build trust or anything for that matter.
3. Share, Promote and Engage
Part of the process of building trust is making sure that the word is out that your content is available. Having said that, there is a fine line between helpful awareness and spammy promotion. Make sure that sharing is done on the platforms where your audience is active. Further, curate content carefully and help the reader quickly see why they may want to consume the content. Finally, if a reader takes the time to engage with the content, whether they share it on Social Media or comment on it, make sure to reach out to them to let them know you appreciate their support and to see how else you may help.
4. Make Connecting With Your Brand Simple
If you do all the work to create great content, then you should be highly motivated to make it easy for someone to connect with your brand; however, I see companies all the time that get this wrong. They make it far too difficult to find their feeds or their social bookmarks. Make sure it is very easy for interested readers to become more meaningfully connected to your brand through email, phone, RSS or other means. After all the work to get someone excited about what you are doing, don't push them away by making it hard to connect.
5. Analyze Response, Optimize and Pivot
You may be thinking: What does analytics have to do with trust building. The reason this step exists is because great content marketers take the time to monitor what is working and what isn't. Brands must look at the content to see what is being viewed, shared and engaged with. If certain content is drawing a great response while some is largely being ignored then brands should pivot to create more of what their audience is connecting with. This doesn't only drive more readers, but more opportunities to build trust with an audience.
These five steps, like any process worth doing take time. One of the biggest downfalls that most brands face when executing their content marketing strategy is they don't set proper expectations for how long the plan should take to work.
While we all know that trust can be built quickly, more often than not it takes time to establish trust. With this in mind, most content marketing campaigns won't work until trust is established; therefore, adequate headway must be given to trust building efforts.
One thing I can tell you for sure is that once high levels of trust are established between a brand and the consumer, the sales process becomes much less cumbersome. With trust, business moves from a "Prove it to me" debate to a "Help me" dialogue where both sides benefit.
Brands that focus on consistently informing their audience about the items they are most interested in knowing are off to a great start for establishing greater levels of trust. Once informed it comes down to being active, connected and available for the customer to learn and find out more. Then brands must continue to self actualize and ask themselves, are we providing the content our audience really wants and adjust accordingly.
Trust is a process, a worthy one, but a process nonetheless. Build it and everything about your business can and will become easier. Begging the question:
How does your company use content marketing to build trust with your clients, prospects and other important influencers in your industry?