If you’re a New York City commuter, your typical day will look something like this:

  • 6:23am: You wake up and check your email. There are both native ads and email marketing ads waiting for you in your inbox.
  • 7:10am: On the car ride to the train station, you hear 10 irrelevant radio ads.
  • 7:26am: You get on the train and spot printed display ads all over the walls.
  • 7:27am: The soccer podcast you listen to started off with an ad for Geico, which you only remember because you forgot to turn your headphones down from last nights spin class and it blasted you in the ear.
  • 7:45am: Another Geico ad.
  • 7:46am: A ZipRecruiter ad.
  • 7: 55am: Before watching highlights of the previous night’s AL Divisional Series game between the Yankees and the Red Sox, you sit through 30 seconds of preroll for yet another ad you can’t remember.
  • 8:06am: Before playing a game of solitaire on your phone, you sit through about a minute and half of advertising because you’d rather sit through 90 seconds of ads every weekday than just pay the bloody 99 cents to download the app.
  • 8:15am: Your train arrives at Penn Station, right underneath Midtown Manhattan, blocks away from Times Square. There might have been a few ads.

Before you even get to work, you’ve heard or seen dozens of ads.

We are numb to traditional advertising, even if it stares us in the face for 47 consecutive minutes on a crowded Long Island Railroad train car.

How did we get to this point where traditional advertising almost seems to have an adverse effect on us?

Traditional marketing destroys trust

Do you trust that banner ad on that website?

Do you trust that billboard?

Do you trust marketing agencies?

If you said no to any of these, you’re not alone. 84% of millennials don’t trust traditional advertising.

The sheer volume of advertisements millennials are exposed to has undoubtedly desensitized them to nearly any live sales pitch.

They’ve become conditioned to smell sales pitches from a mile away and know how to avoid them.

We’re brands unto ourselves

Thanks to social media, millennials now feel as if they are brands unto themselves. They grew up in an age where all you had to do was obtain a bunch of Instagram followers to be famous.

That’s why 58% of millennials are not opposed to seeing ads from their favorite stars. There’s a certain degree of trust when it comes to how millennials view the social media stars or even celebrities they respect.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that consumers, especially millennials, respond favorably to ads featuring the social media stars they want to emulate.

They idolize these stars, respect them, but, most of all, they trust them.

With marketing, trust is worth its weight in gold. So, how do you earn trust?


There’s nothing worse than when companies pretend to care about their customers for the sake of getting them to buy. It doesn’t matter how wonderful your product or service is, customers don’t want to be mislead.

Nearly 50% of Americans consider brands to be dishonest. One of the easiest ways for a company to destroy its reputation is to come off as if it’s hiding something.

If you feel like you have to hide certain aspects of your business to win customers, you have much bigger problems than your sales pitch.

Transparency makes it easier to sell. You should never have to interact with anyone at a company to know if you want to buy from them or not.

If your site has an effective value proposition, a sleek design, and positive customer reviews, that should be more than enough to convince a potential customer to try you out.

But, what really puts customers over the edge to the point where they need to keep coming back is content marketing.

How content marketing works

Have you ever received something in the mail about a free vacation? Sometimes it’s a cruise or a tropical getaway for a few days.

Either way, it’s free and you’re thinking to yourself “there has to be a catch, right?”

You quickly realize that these free vacations are just a ploy. They want you to sit through an awkward 90-minute presentation trying to sell you a lopsided deal on a timeshare you don’t want.

Content marketing works pretty much the same way, just less sleazy and not against your will.

Instead of sitting through an awkward sales presentation, you just have to navigate through some barely noticeable on-page marketing.

In fact, if content marketing is done effectively, you won’t even realize you’re being advertised to. Great copywriters know how to disguise a written sales pitch as something with derivative value. Great filmmakers know how to create viral content by using a film’s promotional budget entirely for disaster relief.

This is why content marketers are increasingly placing greater emphasis on content marketing as a lead generation tool.

Building trust with content

30% of all internet users are using ad blocking software.

We’re going to great lengths to avoid traditional advertising because it’s disruptive. Banner ads, pre-roll ads, and pop-ups are barriers to the content we actually want to consume.

If you’re still reading this, it’s because you trust the information being presented to you.

That’s the power of content marketing.

You knew this article was going to sell you on something, but you continued to read anyway.

The reason for this is because you’re getting something in return for your time. You’re receiving valuable information about how to effectively advertise to clients by being transparent and providing them with something they can use.

The sell

Incorporating hard advertising tactics through written content is about as effective as throwing a backyard barbecue in Yakutsk in the middle of January.

The purpose of this article is to convince readers that:

  1. Customers don’t respond to traditional marketing and sales tactics,
  2. Before a customer buys your product or service, they need to buy you,
  3. The only way a customer is going buy you is if they trust you, and
  4. The best way to earn the trust of a customer is by delivering something useful to them with no strings attached.

Instead of telling someone how great content marketing is, it’s much more worthwhile to show them.

Notice what’s missing on that list?

Not once did it mention anything about purchasing, starting a trial, calling, or signing up.

Content marketing isn’t about making a quick buck.

It’s about earning trust so that, at the very least, you can establish a baseline of legitimacy for your company that becomes the foundation for an extended relationship.

And that is the greatest return on investment.