Build trust with your audience using content marketing

By Sarah Mitchell, Director of Content Strategy

I’ve just returned from America, exhausted by the news cycle and completely drained from the constant hyperbole present in media, advertising and marketing. The din is so loud people shut off. It presents a strong opportunity for brands willing to provide a voice of reason.

When I was a kid, Walter Cronkite, the nightly news anchor on CBS, was widely known as the most trusted man in America. Can you imagine anyone in the media holding that position today?

We also trusted our politicians. There’s not much of that going on in the free world at the moment. Brexit is a terrific example of the continually eroding trust of politicians. The general public views politics as a game to get re-elected, not a discipline of governance. The recent Australian election seemed to endorse that view. The US elections have been a hotbed of trust issues from plagiarising speeches, copyright violations and accusations from both sides of illegal behaviour.

Who is trusted now?

I was depressed to find out the most trusted people in America today are actors. Think about that for a minute. Actors make a living speaking words written for them while they pretend to be someone else. The people we trust the most are the people who, by profession, are acting. It tells me we’re in a crisis of trust.

A new report from the Governance Institute of Australia provides insight. The inaugural Ethics Index identifies problems of trust with:

  • Politicians
  • Media
  • Banks
  • Large corporations
  • Retailers

It also shows the most ethical industries are those known for helping people — not-for-profits, fire and ambulance, education and health sectors all came out on top of the trust stakes.

What brands can do to foster trust

So if providing help and support is a way to gain trust with the public, doesn’t it make sense for brands to adopt a helpful approach to their marketing? It’s not too much of a stretch to say it’s time to quit advertising and start helping. And this is where content marketing comes in.

By definition, content marketing is helpful. My favourite definition is the one endorsed by 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”.

Where content marketing fits into the trust equation

Creating valuable, relevant and consistent content is a building block in building trust with your clients and prospective customers. Providing your information and expertise willingly with a view to building trust goes a long way towards future commercial return.

Marty Neumeier states in his book, The Brand Gap, “A brand is not what you say it is. It’s what they say it is”. A good brand — a trusted brand — is rewarded with steady business and word-of-mouth recommendations.

7 ways to build trust using content marketing

I’m afraid there’s no escaping the bombastic news cycle we’re experiencing at the moment. As media competes for viewers, politicians fight for re-election, and big business focuses on executive bonuses, a helpful hand from business is a breath of fresh air.

Here’s how you can build trust with content, no matter the size of your business:

  1. Provide your expertise free of charge. Don’t use sales as your sole measure of content marketing ROI.
  2. Avoid clickbait headlines and don’t make false promises.
  3. Be consistent with your publishing so people know when to expect to hear from you.
  4. Insist on producing the highest quality content possible.
  5. Be honest in your marketing, even if it requires a level of candour about your shortcomings as a business.
  6. Lose the campaign mentality, especially now when everyone is so sick of campaigning.
  7. Stick to your strategic business objectives and forget about gaining mass popularity.

Think about the brands you trust and why you trust them. Chances are they’ve provided help to you in one way or another. What can you do in your own business to create a trusted relationship with your clients? Can you use content to help build that trust? I bet you can. If you’d like advice on how you can develop a content marketing strategy to create and foster trust in your brand, get in touch with us at Lush Digital Media. We have a long history in helping businesses grow into trusted brands.

Like what you’ve read? You might enjoy these:

Who do you trust? [podcast with show notes]

Does your brand pass the ‘so what’ test?

Authenticity vs oversharing [podcast]

How does the world see you and your business?

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