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Trust and the B-to-B Marketer: Six Actions to Build Customer Trust

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The 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals some particularly relevant points of emphasis and action for B-to-B marketers.

First, your innovations – which drive your sales pipeline and industry buzz – are now likely viewed through a fog of distrust. By a 2-to-1 margin, people believe innovation is happening too fast. To build the trust of your prospects and current customers:

  • Run tests and trials, and be as transparent as practically possible with the results. Partner with a third party (an academic or industry expert, or perhaps an NGO or government) to validate the testing, results and benefit to customers.
  • Convey your innovation’s specific user benefits, and more importantly even, the benefits to the industry or society as a whole. This will offset their gut feeling that you’re really just “new and improved” to make a buck off them.

Secondly, provide tangible evidence that you’re a good actor who will not embarrass them or damage their professional reputation once they choose you:

  • Demonstrate (don’t just promise) character in the form of transparency about responsible operations, leadership in the industry, improvements and trends in customer results.
  • Exhibit that you value customers beyond the transaction. Engage, listen and react to their ideas and concerns. Show how you value their feedback and place customers ahead of profits.

Lastly, be customer-centric in how you show up, taking advantage of trust-building effects of search engine results. When it comes to information about business, search engines are used first and most; they give your prospects a sense of control as they discover and validate information:

  • Be findable when they search and read their favorite related content. Don’t make them hunt for you using only your product name or key ingredients.
  • Be consistent as you embrace traditional business channels and the more “consumerized” ones we’re all moving into. Your short-form images and infographics need to ladder up to the same differentiating platform as your long technical papers and case study videos, whether they are on LinkedIn, your corporate blog or content in your trade journals.

The B-to-B decision-making process is longer and more complex than ever. Your ability to activate advocates and survive the decision journey depends on the halo of trust and dedication your business exudes to your prospects and all their influencers. It’s never been a small task, but hopefully these trust insights will give you an advantage.

Patty Tucker is EVP/Operations & Strategy Director for Edelman’s Corporate Practice across the Americas.  She also serves as the lead of our BtoB Center of Excellence which includes 185 Edelman experts and 163 brands across the globe.  Follow her on Twitter @PattyTucker.

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