Reputed marketing agencies focus on educational, interesting content as the focal point of their strategies. Content marketing is a more effective and trustworthy tool than many other forms of marketing like paid advertisements, so phrases like “content is king” are justified. According to Neil Patel, content marketing generates 3x as many leads at 62% lower cost. The numbers are incredibly impressive, and point to the fact that people no longer trust “hard selling” strategies.

If we consider that trust forms the foundation of our human relationships, then trust should also be foundational to any marketing strategy. There’s a problem though: Trust can be vague; It’s a value, like love or liberty, and it’s hard to pinpoint a definition. We can figure out what builds trust, which is empathy. Simply put, we trust those we empathize with. This is why we do business with people who are similar to ourselves, and rarely branch far outside our social circles. It’s also why referrals and in-bound marketing works so well – they’re based on empathy.

Business have various “in-groups,” and you have to establish trust to enter these in-groups. If you act like an outsider, you’ll be treated like an outsider, and denied entry. Think of an email without context or just a random business card in the stack. These kinds of tactics don’t get you into in-groups. Instead, if you empathize with the realities of the in-groups, you’ll be permitted entry.

The “Four Principles of Marketing” Are Wrong

If you Google the “principles of marketing,” you’re told that product, price, place, and promotion are the things that influence customer purchase decisions. If that were true, we’d buy the shoes with the sturdiest soles for the lowest dollar cost as soon as we saw an ad for it. That idea is just ridiculous! We buy the Nike’s and Adidas’ of the world because we trust them, but there’s no easy catchphrase for trust, it takes a long time to build and requires empathy-based strategies.

The Real “Principles of Marketing”

The real principles of marketing are authenticity and empathy. It’s about sharing stories and values instead of facts and figures. There are many ways to do this, but the most effective ways are through content marketing and story-telling.

The numbers speak for themselves, as content marketing generates 3x the leads for 62% lower costs. Given these figures, why doesn’t every business in the world focus on trust-based content marketing practices? The reason is simple: It’s hard. Content marketing requires consistent, high-quality value to be brought to prospects across a variety of channels.

Unlike hard selling strategies, it’s not as easy to see the immediate result. Instead of getting a “yes” or a “no” right away, you’re hoping that your value-add benefits your readers, so that somewhere down the line they turn to you for a solution.

For businesses still stuck in last-century thinking, that can be a difficult strategy to adopt. But nowadays, trust-based marketing is the only kind that works.