The strongest brands have one thing in common– a loyal base of trusting customers. Trust is at the center of every business strategy – without it, you’ll struggle to, develop relationships, win business, and retain customers.
Jim Stengel, former global marketing officer of Procter & Gamble puts it best, “We’re seeing more of an emphasis on brands building emotional relationships with consumers because it’s powerful and it works. When you do it, you have a much stronger affinity, a much stronger business, much stronger growth, and much stronger results.”
How to Establish a Trustworthy Brand
1. Be transparent.
Did you know 54% of customers say they don’t trust brands (source)? Transparency seems like an obvious essential in any brand strategy – but it’s often easier in theory than it is in practice. For this reason, you must be transparent, both in your brand messaging and your interactions with prospects and customers — even when it’s difficult.
Here are a few good places to start:
Develop a customer communication strategy.
Don’t just reach out when you have a new product or service. Send regular updates and check in with customers regularly to see how your product is performing for them.
Be willing to answer questions.
Whether through social media or on the phone, it’s important not to shy away from questions—especially the tough ones. Instead of providing scripted responses, train your employees thoroughly. Don’t hide information from your employees, and they, in turn, won’t hide information from your customers or prospects.
Open your doors to the public.
We don’t mean this literally—we just mean that you should allow customers and prospects to see what your company is really like—put a human face to your brand name. Share company culture, involve customers in product development and really give your audience a behind-the-scenes look at your company.
Own up to mistakes.
We’re all human and we all make mistakes. Your customers and prospects are more likely to forgive an error if you own up to it and handle it professionally. Customers can tell when they’re being lied to and they certainly don’t want to feel tricked or deceived. Honesty is always the best policy.
Being transparent pays off in the long run. In fact, a 2016 survey found that 94% of all consumers are more likely to be loyal to a brand that demonstrates full transparency (source).
2. Make an effort to not only understand your customers but to also demonstrate that understanding.
Buyers trust brands that show a deep understanding of their needs and interests. If you don’t know your target audience inside and out, your marketing efforts will miss the mark– a big red flag for potential buyers. Here’s how to get more in touch with your prospects and customers’ needs:
Examine your customer data.
You probably already know that data is the key component of your sales and marketing strategies. But when it comes to branding, customer data often goes ignored. Dig into your data and identify common pain points, concerns, interests, and ambitions among your customer base. Your brand messaging should speak directly to these attributes. Think customer first, products second.
Practice social listening.
Through social listening, monitor the online conversations that your audience is having about your brand and your industry. This will help you assess how your brand is perceived and will allow you to keep up with the issues your customers care about.
Ask for feedback.
Don’t be afraid to acknowledge that you might be missing something. Communicate with your existing customers and learn what your brand can do to appeal more to their needs.
Get more personalized.
Nothing tells a customer or prospect you don’t care like a one-size-fits-all email campaign. If you don’t make an effort to segment your audience and send messages to their particular needs and interests, you’ll never win their business.
3. Create authentic, valuable content.
Content marketing has become a key component of B2B branding, but B2B organizations don’t always take the right approach. If you use your content only as a platform to promote your products, you’ll have a difficult time building trust with your audience. In fact, 71% of surveyed Americans said they trusted brands that provided useful information without trying to sell them something (source).
Here are some questions to ask yourself before publishing your next piece of content:
Is this content original?
Are you offering a new perspective or covering an original topic? Or are you just regurgitating the same article all your competitors have already produced? If your content isn’t original, it doesn’t offer anything to your readership.
Is it actionable?
What is reader going to take away from this piece? If they can’t process the information and immediately apply it to their own lives, your piece isn’t valuable.
Does it solve a problem or answer a question?
There’s enough useless content in the world. If yours doesn’t provide a clear solution to your reader’s problem or question, they won’t read it—and they certainly won’t enjoy it.
Is it accurate?
Do you back up your claims with statistics, quotes, or examples? Do you source your information accurately? Your readers want to know where you get your information. If you don’t use reputable sources or report things accurately, you’ll tarnish the trustworthiness of your brand.
4. Leverage the power of storytelling to evoke emotion.
Storytelling is an underutilized tactic in the B2B world, but it can go a long ways toward establishing trust. Stories elicit an emotional response from your current and make your brand appear more human. If you haven’t used brand storytelling in the past, here are some things to consider:
Showcase your brand’s values.
Shared values was cited by 64% of people as the main reason they have a relationship with a brand (source). Tell the story of how and why your company started, what values it holds the most important, and how you have evolved as a business while maintaining those same core values.
Tell customer success stories.
People are more likely to trust your brand if they hear from your happy customers firsthand. Promote user-generated content that showcases customers using your products or interview customers directly and create a blog post or video using the material.
Show off your company culture.
Give a face to your brand by showing off your employees. Highlight their accomplishments, personal hobbies, favorite things about your company.
5. Respond to criticism.
Modern customers have many different ways to contact a company. Whether they have a question, a random thought or even negative feedback, they expect a prompt response. And, even more telling, 33% of consumers would recommend a brand that provides a quick but ineffective response (source).
Brands that publicly respond to complaints demonstrate their availability and willingness to help out a customer. Don’t shy away from criticism; answer your customers’ questions and concerns with as much detail as the platform will allow. Not only will the individual customer appreciate the response, but the rest of your audience will see the interaction and it will help to shape their perception of your brand.
6. Prioritize post-sale relationships.
Do you pat yourself on the back and move on after winning a new customer? If so, you’re doing a big disservice to your brand because 48% of buyers say the most critical time to gain their loyalty is when they first make a purchase or begin a service (source).
Think about it: the customer just committed to your service, giving you the time and money they could have given to a competitor. If you drop the ball after they sign the contract, they’ll have no reason to believe all the promises you made pre-sale.
So, we recommend that you develop a post-sale strategy that makes each buyer feel like part of your brand rather than a paying customer.
Follow up often.
After each sale, reach out to the customer. As they begin to implement your solution or use your product, give them ample opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback. Prove that helping your current customers is just as important to you as selling to new ones.
Offer post-sale content.
Your content marketing efforts shouldn’t stop after a sale—you must continue to provide value to retain your most valuable customers. Send specific content that helps implement, use, or get the most out of your products and services.
Create a loyalty program.
Collaborate with your customer service team to offer discounts, perks, and exclusive access to new products. These programs are a great way to build trust because they show that profit is secondary to customer satisfaction.
One positive customer experience isn’t going to make a huge impact on your brand. To build a brand people trust, consistency is key. That means consistent messaging and – most importantly – consistent results. One buyer at a time, aim to deliver on your promises and exceed expectations. Your efforts won’t go unnoticed, and soon you’ll have built a brand that people know they can trust.
Contact ZoomInfo today to learn how we’re the B2B data provider to transform and evolve your brand.