Why your brand’s credibility determines your cut-through

Based on insights from our recent C-suite study, we look into why credibility is one of the most important factors for driving engagement with the C-suite, and how to achieve it.

How do you reach the C-suite? Type the question into Google and it will return over 8 million results. It’s a question asked by marketers who are looking to unlock the value of one of the most elusive and influential audience segments.

Raconteur’s latest research study, ‘The Elusive C-suite — Content that Cuts Through’, reveals key insights into the barriers and drivers for engaging this audience.

The challenge of cutting through

In a world where we often focus on the competitive ‘noise’ as the biggest threat to cut-through, this insight points to the fact that it is the quality of what you say, rather than what others are putting out there, which is hampering brands’ abilities to engage with discerning audiences.

Brands that focus solely on pushing their products or services without adding value fail to win the ear of their prospects. Over a fifth of C-suites surveyed think content published by brands (CPB) is self-serving and offers little to no professional insight or value. This is not a problem limited to content, but evident across the marketing mix.

“Only a small proportion of marketers are taking the discipline of content seriously”

A glance at the bigger picture reveals a reduced appetite for branded interactions. Adblock software penetration has increased to 615 million users worldwide, and is up 20 per cent compared to 2016.¹ While 90 per cent of branded apps receive fewer than 10,000 downloads, lower than the average benchmark of 30,000 downloads in the AppStore.² Finally — and perhaps most revealing — Havas 2017 research shows that three quarters of brands could disappear tomorrow and their users wouldn’t care.³

A recent Harvard Business Review study found that the C-Suite only spend 2% of their time with vendors or brands, and the window to impress them is small. Our research shows that a majority of C-suites will give branded thought leadership a go — but if it doesn’t add value they will not engage with that content again.

Your ability to cut through comes down to credibility. A little more than half (51 per cent) of the C-suite believe content produced by brands lacks credibility and cite this as one of the biggest reasons why they don’t engage. By offering value which goes beyond trying to sell products or services, prospects will accept branded communication. This forms the beginning of a relationship and makes them receptive to the brand.

So how can brands establish the credibility of their content and thought leadership to achieve cut-through?

Establish your areas of authority

The first step is to understand the areas your brand has authority to speak on. What does your brand offer through its services, products, people or heritage, that is relevant and interesting to your consumers? Which problems or issues can you help resolve? Ensure that your brand has licence to comment on the topics you choose to engage with, so that your content is relevant to your audience and your brand.

These areas might be wider than you think. For example, ‘The Creators Project’ by VICE and Intel aimed to showcase international artists that use technology within their work. The collaboration allowed VICE to cement itself as a cultural force, while letting Intel highlight the use of its technology in the creative process.

Penny Wilson, CMO of Hootsuite, explains: “Brands are still missing the main point of content: to engage directly with their audiences. Listen first and invest in customer-centric, personalised content to build relevancy and credibility with your audiences.”

Once brands have identified territories that are interesting, relevant and within the brand’s authority, they need to back it up with expertise.

Build your expertise

In order to effectively add value, you need substance to your content. 42 per cent look for content based on original, primary research or empirical evidence.

Another way you can build expertise is through partnerships, respected influencers or research. 50 per cent of executives are likely to read branded content if content is produced in partnership with a recognised expert in their industry or profession. 47 per cent look for content that’s shared or recommended by a respected or influential figure in the industry.

When done right, these types of partnerships result in credible content which creates a halo effect for your entire brand. The brand’s credibility, i.e. its ability to make prospects trust that their communications will be genuinely useful to them, is ultimately what will drive cut-through.

Key takeaways

~ Define your areas of authority and how these can help solve problems for your target audience.

~ Make your content useful and relevant through investing in research, whether original or proprietary.

~ Drive credibility through partnering with an expert or trusted influencer.

¹Source: PageFair’s 2017 Adblock Report, ²Source: Carnival’s Mobile Insights Blog, ³Source: Havas Media, Meaningful Brands Study 2017.