Trust is the most critical component in building and maintaining a strong, emotionally driven and enduring brand. But why is there an increasing need for marketers to focus on this now?
As the speed of business gets faster, there’s a danger that we become too quick to seek a sale and too slow to build relationships. Most marketers are in business to create demand and sell more stuff. But in a world of promotion-driven marketing tactics, many brands forget that building trust is what holds the relationship with the customer together.
Gaining prospects’ trust increases sales, increases what people are willing to pay for your brand’s products and services and increases the likelihood of them recommending or defending your brand to others.
This is especially true in the complex buying landscape of B2B sales. Time is a precious commodity for these buyers. Demand Gen’s research into B2B buyer preferences reveals that roughly one-third strongly agree that they “have less time to devote to reading/research” in 2017 than they did the year before.
The window in which to impress and build relationships is tightening. Our 2017 research showed that the 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.
When it comes to getting into a buyer’s consideration set, brand trust matters. Three quarters of buyers also place great emphasis on the trustworthiness of sources to help them research products and services efficiently. Raconteur’s research confirms these findings, with 51 per cent of respondents doubting the credibility of branded content, finding it to be too self-serving and promotional.
B2B brands looking to form enduring relationships with prospects that move them towards conversion need to invest in earning their trust from the start.
Three key ways to build a trusted brand
1. Be transparent
Maintaining transparency with your audience helps build confidence in your brand. It’s important to be open and honest about your products and services and share accurate information in a sincere and appropriate manner.
It’s also vital to clearly communicate the way your business is run. The more clients and prospects understand how a business operates and what it does, the more trusted it becomes.
Brands that fail to do so pay the price. The 2010 BP oil spill is a reminder of the dangers of trying to cover your tracks in a crisis. Internal communications at the company showed that BP knew 100,000 barrels per day could be spilling into the gulf, but they publicly declared it was only 5,000 per day. When the truth surfaced, share-prices plummeted to a 13 year-low.
EU legislation for data management is also driving a shift towards transparent business practices. Initiatives like GDPR require brands to adopt a more open, customer-centric approach, while also providing an opportunity to redefine your relationships with your audiences in the process.
2. Partnerships, influencers and advocacy
In an era of distrust for brands, working together with partners, influencers and client advocates is a powerful way to win prospects’ hearts.
Our research shows that 51 per cent of executives think creating content together with a partner or recognised expert increases the credibility of that content. The customer voice is another important third-party force for generating future sales, with 92 per cent of purchases motivated by it, according to Havas.
Use insights and analysis to research and understand your target audience and its requirements. What are your customer’s pain points? And what do you need to prove to them to earn their trust? This will enable you to develop a strategy that accounts for who you are trying to reach, what challenges they face and the types of partnerships that will be effective.
If you can provide the right people with the right message, you’ll be well on your way towards building a trusting relationship.
3. Thought leadership
Prospects are increasingly looking to their favoured brands to show leadership on matters that impact them directly. This allows brands to interact with prospects in a way that adds value before they begin selling their products or services, which is key for building relationships.
To do this, map the problems your prospects face in their business or industry. These may include:
- Internal issues, such as decision-making structures or stakeholder management
- External issues, such as industry factors, competition, disruption or regulation
- Business issues, such as production or the adoption of new technologies
- Wider issues, such as social or political factors
Consider how your brand could address these through support, guidance and action. This will become the thought leadership platform that your activity is then built around.
Prospects will move forward in building a trusted long-term relationship with a brand when that brand proves it is able to:
- Maintain transparency
- Leverage trusted partnerships
- Demonstrate strong thought leadership