As B-to-B life cycles continue to push more marketers into managing long-term prospect and customer relationships, trust is an increasingly critical brand attribute.
The annual Edelman TRUST BAROMETER provides insights into four factors that inform trust. I’ll point out these do not fall squarely in the classic CMO or CCO job description, which is indicative of how customers’ attitudes and awareness – and purchase consideration – seamlessly encompass both corporate and brand attributes.
B-to-B marketers in particular should focus on three priorities:
First, integrate purpose into your brand ethos, whether solving industry or societal issues. Contributing to the greater good is one of the top reasons trust in business increases. The prevailing expectation (at 80 percent) is that business can take specific actions that both increase profits and improve the economic and social conditions in the community. Brands earn attention and engagement by solving customers’ problems and demonstrating advocacy for making their world better. Plus, purpose-oriented content provides rich fodder for sustained customer engagement that fosters differentiation, preference and loyalty.
Second, prioritize how well – and how visibly – you care for employees and customers. The highest ranking in importance of the trust-building attributes are “Treats Employees Well” and “Listens to Customer Needs and Feedback,” at 58 percent each. And, perhaps to state the obvious, not only will this demonstrated care ensure your company is exceptionally well-run, it will heighten the chance that two trusted groups are active advocates. Positive customer opinion is vital to the very heartbeat of marketing effectiveness and the Trust Barometer shows employees are the most trusted source of information about many company aspects.
Finally, ensure a cohesive narrative throughout your customers’ journey. As audiences move across search, online and offline channels, they can easily see inconsistencies between your expressed vs. demonstrated narrative. If you promise a green supply chain and the top search engine results convey differing evidence, doubt grows right there in the No. 1 most trusted media source. Leverage your owned media channels, which are increasingly more trusted by current customers, as 62 percent say they trust information by “Companies that I use.” Cultivate advocates with your earned social and trade media presence. And swivel the right eyes to your most powerful content with paid amplification.
In today’s marketplace, where customers are interconnected and empowered, demonstrating purpose, employee and customer care, and consistency of narrative will help strengthen the gravitational pull of your trusted brand. This differentiating engagement will set you far apart from competitors prioritizing core product attributes.