Chances are you’ve heard a fundamental truth in business: People prefer to do business with people they know, like and trust.

I would argue that for B2B businesses, trust is the most important factor in that maxim.

It’s one thing to say this, though, and quite another to convey that trust to your target audience.

And let’s be honest. The conversation around trust in marketing these days is typically relegated to advertisements and email subscriptions. If those are the only places you’re focusing on trust, however, you’re missing the boat. Trust is important in the customer experience from the moment someone encounters your brand all the way through the post-purchase period.

Today, with media feeds full of half-truths and full-on lies, it’s even harder for brands to gain trust from their target audiences. That’s precisely why trust can’t be an afterthought. It needs to be baked in the content strategy and every piece of content you distribute.

Building Trust Starts and Ends With Your Relationship

Building trust isn’t about manipulating people into raising their hands to hear from you, it’s about building a solid relationship that stands the test of time. Without trust, people won’t open your emails, explore your product or recommend your brand.

Back in the day, companies built trust by leveraging authorities. Remember this gem?

  • “Four out of five dentists surveyed would recommend Trident to patients who chew gum.”

And those nefarious tobacco companies. . .

  • “More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette.”
  • “20,679 physicians say ‘Luckies are less irritating.’”

Today, even though most brands understand how important trust is between them and the customers they serve, they are still unclear how to create it.

And building trust is certainly much more than creating social media buzz. You must EARN trust.

Customers are naturally suspicious these days.

In a world where a Defense Against Disinformation report is necessary, and where social media feeds are infiltrated with information created by bots to misrepresent, inflame and alter the outcome of elections or change public opinion, people are suspicious of it all. That means your well-intentioned, truthful content is subject to suspicion as well.

Google, Twitter and Facebook are getting pressured to enact better privacy safeguards, control the manipulation of their platforms and more amid this era of disinformation. Most of the people you want to reach will view ANY content with a certain degree of skepticism.

People no longer trust advertisements, either, because they’ve been schooled on spin.

So, rather than pushing products, savvy marketers are leaning into trust-based marketing.

Trust-based marketing is about building a relationship with customers by using strategies that share unbiased and honest information. Brands are rewarded for their authenticity because customers recognize it and respect them for sharing the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Those customers then choose to do business with brands they feel they can trust.

It’s powerful. In a world that has the good, the bad and the ugly all up for display now, 24/7/365, isn’t it refreshing for a brand to be transparent? If all you ever see or read from a brand is the good, you know they’re hiding something.

And is anything ever really private? Companies that make their information accessible will build more trust — or pay the price when someone else uncovers controversial information and broadcasts it.

Take a page from McDonald’s playbook. When they were getting unflattering press about chicken McNuggets being made from “pink slime” they fought back by releasing a behind-the-scenes video that showed how their food was made. This likely wouldn’t be the tactic deployed by marketers in the past, but today that kind of transparency makes a big difference in customer trust.

Tackling naysayers head-on like McDonald’s did, or admitting why you’re not the cheapest option or that you’re not everything to everybody actually builds trust — and business.

Honesty builds confidence. Confidence builds trust.

Content Can Build Trust

Over time, your company can earn more trust from customers when it has a track record of delivering quality content consistently. This isn’t clickbait or clever memes, it’s content that:

  • Positions your organization or the author of the piece as an authority on the subject matter
  • Inspires the reader to share the content with others because they deem it a worthy read
  • Offers readers important knowledge or insight

There’s an overabundance of content in the world today. To rise above it all and become a trustworthy authority in your industry, it’s important to demonstrate that your organization has the chops to deliver well-researched, comprehensive content written specifically for your target audience.

More personable content can improve the trust factor, too. Remember, even when you’re a B2B, your customers are ultimately human beings. When they can get a sense of your values and what you stand for, and see that you’re in alignment with their values and stances, it builds appreciation and respect.

In a world of disinformation and fake news, it’s not easy to take the high road and become a trustworthy authority. It takes intention from the moment you develop your content strategy to the creation of every single piece of content to delivering it.

While it’s not easy, your effort to do so will have a positive impact on your marketing ROI (and maybe even help you sleep better at night).