Welcome back to the South Florida CEO Podcast. Today we're going to dive into how to build trust. We’ll also talk about what kind of content, what kind of educational resources, are especially helpful for building trust.
We're also going to tie that into why building trust is so important in today's buyer's journey: the way people research and make purchase decisions. We’ll look at how the definition of building trust has changed over time. And finally, we'll talk about what kind of content can pull people towards you and your company.
Why CEOs in South Florida Need to Build Trust
So what can we do to build trust in the context of inbound marketing and inbound sales?
This is a very important area if you’re truly looking to stand out from the crowd, get found earlier, generate more high-quality leads, and become perceived more as a trusted advisor -- as opposed to just a vendor or commodity broker.
It’s really important for being able to close sales faster with stronger profit margins. And most of all for being able to grow your revenue.
What is Trust?
According to Merriam-Webster, the gold standard for how to define things, trust is the “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something” and “one in which confidence is placed.”
So how do we take total strangers, who have never heard of your company or your products and services before and convey to them that there's strength in your character, your abilities, and there's truth in what you're saying and that they can place their confidence in you?
A lot of this comes down to exceeding expectations and figuring out what’s super urgent to your most important potential stakeholders and potential clients. This is where inbound marketing, inbound sales, content marketing, and being perceived as a trusted advisor, really shines.
So what can we do to make sure that your company is building trust as rapidly and as effectively as possible?
Who Creates the Most Trustworthy Content?
One thing to keep in mind: There's been all kinds of studies that have talked about the kind of contents that you put in front of your clients and your future clients -- your prospects -- and how the person creating that content and their role dramatically increases how the trust is perceived.
1. Support: For example, research has confirmed when customer service and help desk support teams create content, that content is perceived as pretty trustworthy.
2. Marketing: Marketing content is perceived as pretty trustworthy.
So the question is: how do you find that information -- the advice from different business units -- trustworthy or untrustworthy?
Again what's largely seen as the most trustworthy are things that are coming from a services team, customer support, or help desk -- which is not surprising as they’re on the front lines of trying to make sure that you’re as happy as possible in the buyer’s journey. It does a business no good for you to become a customer if it can’t make you a happy customer -- the kind of happy customer that’s more likely make repeat purchases. And in the case of any business model that depends on recurring revenue, a happy customer that stays a happy customer, a happy client for a long time to come.
So next down on the list of trustworthiness in second place would be marketing.
3. Sales: Third down on that group, surprising not to many but to some maybe: content that comes from sales is perceived as less trustworthy than marketing and even less trustworthy than content from customer support.
4. Public Relations: Fourth most trustworthy, one level below sales in terms of being able to build trust, is content that comes from a public relations group of PR group.
5. Advertising: And fifth would be content that comes from an advertising group.
So again we're looking in terms of what kinds of contents, and the origins of that content, and what engenders trust the most, as rapidly as possible and as effectively as possible, customer service/customer support type of content creates the most trust.
That's why you see a lot of companies, perhaps started in the IT world, perhaps in software, where they open up their customer support database to the general public. They want potential clients to see the kinds of questions that are asked and answered by people once they become a client.
What better way for someone to get a feel for what it's like to be a client of yours than to let them experience that part of the customer buyer's journey.
So again customer service, or customer support, produces the most trustworthy content. Coming in second place, right after, is content coming from marketing. Sales is a little less trustworthy. PR is even less trustworthy than that. And advertising is way down on the list as number five.
So now that we know the kinds of roles, the kinds of job responsibilities, that can lead to the most trustworthy content, one of the bigger picture things that we like people to think about is that different people within your company bring different perspectives. Why? They get asked different kinds of questions.
Everyone Can and Must Help Build Trust
Customer service gets asked very different questions than sales. Sales gets very different questions than engineering. Engineering gets asked very different questions than finance. Finance gets asked different questions than executives.
The best way to build trust across-the-board, because there are certain roles, responsibilities, and department groups that are better at building trust than others, is to be able to convey and lift up the general trustworthiness of the company as a whole.
Represent as many different kinds of questions and kinds of knowledge internally that you have.
All too often, people think when it comes to creating content that this is a marketing-only endeavor.
You’ll recall that marketing is the second most trustworthy. Support is even more trustworthy at creating content than marketing.
But the problem is that in a lot of companies, marketing is not necessarily on the front lines -- marketing is not the ones that are closest to potential clients, on the front lines as the one that is closest to existing clients.
So it's really important that we recognize that different people within your company interact with different kinds of stakeholders for different kinds of reasons.
The better the job that we can do of getting their school-of-hard-knocks institutional knowledge represented in the content that attracts the right strangers, converts them into leads, accelerate them into sales opportunities and clients, and delights those clients into promoters, the better job we can do of providing that spectacular user experience that are clients are all after.
Building Trust in Today’s Modern Buyer’s Journey
Why is this so important and so relevant today more than ever?
One of the big things that’s changed during the last couple of years is the buyer’s journey -- which is the active research process that someone goes through in between when that person first learns about your company and when that person ultimately becomes a paying client.
And it used to be that the buyer’s journey was largely owned and dominated by internal sales teams.
About five to seven years ago, we started to notice a lot of changes in the way that people navigated the buyer's Journey. It started around 2007 with the original release of the iPhone.
However, there's been a lot of things in the works going on at the same time. We've seen in the last five or ten years or so the rise of satellite radio that enables people to skip listening to commercials. We’ve seen the rise of streaming video services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video that allow people to watch TV without ever watching commercials. Even before that, there were DVRs, digital video recorders, from companies like TiVo.
We've seen that people aren't buying music CDs in the same way that they used to. Now if they're going to buy a song at all, they're going to cherry-pick it and just buy the one, two, or three songs that they want on iTunes, as opposed to buying the entire CD. Or they're going to subscribe to some kind of streaming music service.
Technology has allowed people to get exactly what they want when they want, a hundred percent on their own terms. They're tired of getting interrupted. They’re tired of having to put up with a bunch of nonsense and self-serving crap. And if you don't give it to them, they're going to get it from somewhere else. So today’s buyer’s journey is very much alive and well in that context. And a lot of things that people started doing in their personal lives, outside of the office, are things that they very much bring into the office as well for personal preferences.
So we very much live in a digital-first world. There are a lot more things that are happening online than ever before.
We also find today that so many more people feel very comfortable using search engines. If you think about as recently as ten years ago, maybe 15 years ago, it was kind of a geeky hobbyist kind of thing to be looking up things on search engines all the time. As soon as search became an integral part of our mobile devices, our iPhones or Android smartphones, or our assistants such as Alexa, Cortana, or Siri, these devices are allowing us to ask questions like crazy, anytime, all the time, on unseemingly the most mundane details.
What time is the pizza restaurant open? What's the closest hardware store? Can you give me driving directions to this destination? What are some good places to eat around here? Who are the best cloud computing providers for dental offices?
All of these questions that people would have had to take back to their desks as recently as five or ten years ago, and put in a lot more effort and thought into planning and searching, can be done more impulsively because we live in a digital-first, mobile-first world.
Digital and Mobile Game-Changers
When we say mobile first, how prevalent is this? Think about the first thing that you do in the morning when you first get up. How many minutes go by before you grab your phone, to look and see what's on your phone? Think about one of the last things that you do before you go to bed in the evening. If you're like most people, it's probably checking your phone one more time.
Think about how many mobile devices there are in your house. And think about how much of a sense of withdrawal you go through if you lose your phone or your phone is broken -- in other words, you’re without your smartphone for a couple of days.
As recently as a couple of years ago, one of the last places of sanctuary for being mobile-free was on airplanes. But now, more of the major airlines are offering free or very inexpensive WiFi.
It used to be that if you wanted to get away from it all, you went on a vacation or went on a cruise or something like that. But now, even the major cruise lines have WiFi on board.
Building Trust During the First
70% of the Buyer’s Journey
People are more and more plugged-in 7/24. And this very much influences how they go about researching and making purchase decisions. So much so, that we'll find across different kinds of Industries: 70% or more of their decision may be made up before they’re ever getting to you.
70%, in some cases it's a little less, and in some cases, it’s a little more. Again it depends on your industry, your vertical market, your price point, and how much of a considered purchase your product or services are -- how long people tend to research before they make a purchase decision.
But regardless of any or all of these scenarios, being able to be relevant in today's buyer’s journey is a tremendous opportunity for your company to educate and build trust. Education builds trust.
So we live in this world where digital is first, mobile is first, and people using search engines like crazy, like never before. They're also using social media like they never have before. At last count, there are 2 billion users on Facebook. The average person is on Facebook for an hour a day. It’s just insane how much that's changed during the last couple of years.
Influencing Purchase Decisions at Scale
And another big thing that's fueling a lot of this is artificial intelligence -- as the servers that run the search engines, the social media platforms, and the mobile platforms get smarter, they're going to continue to make more suggestions that help people connect the dots between what they're saying and what the software thinks that they really want.
So again, it's super critical that if we want to our companies to be seen as relevant, we need build up trust early on, in the first 70%, of that really formative part of the buyer's journey -- where people are comparing their different options, they’re helping to narrow down and really understand the symptoms, problems, solutions, questions, and answers.
It's an enormous opportunity for a company like yours to use educational materials and resources to be seen as a trusted advisor, to be seen as a subject matter expert, to be seen as a guru, and have an enormous influence on how they ultimately look at the different options and what they ultimately decide to purchase.
The Moving Target and How Trust Building is Evolving
Another big thing to keep in mind, when it comes to building trust: this is very much a moving target. The definition has changed over time of what trust building, content marketing, inbound marketing, and educational content is all about.
For example as recently as three or four years ago, a lot of things centered around blogging. And yes blogging is still important. But we've seen in the last couple of years that there's been an explosion in the amount of video content that is consumed online.
Bear in mind; Google only bought YouTube about ten years ago. Before that, YouTube was just a startup. And yes there were some hobbyists and early adopters way back then. But Google has only been in that space for a little over ten years.
Bear in mind; it's only been in the last few years that the mobile devices that we use have gotten fast enough, that the processors are fast enough, and that there's enough memory, with a display that’s sharp enough, that people want to watch video on their phones.
And at the same time, the mobile networks had to get fast enough. If we were all still limping around with 2G or 3G mobile bandwidth all the time, it just would be too slow to watch mobile video on anything but WiFi.
So this definition of what content is used to build trust is largely changed over time.
We're seeing a strong push towards multimedia content: podcasting, videos, Facebook Live, and YouTube Live. So we need to be very aware of that. And in that context, we really can't just be generic anymore. We need to be hyper-specific because if we're too generic and we're not seen as helpful, there's no friction anymore for somebody backing out, hitting the back button on our website, and leaving and just running another search.
And when they do that, that's not a good scenario for two reasons:
- Visitors Leave for Good: When they hit the back button relatively quickly and leave because they're not finding what they want, it's not likely that they're coming back...ever.
- Search Engines Hear About Bad Experiences Too: Along the same lines, there are so many millions of people now logged onto servers that Google owns, that quick exit from your website sends a signal to the search engines that frankly your website isn't very good, that it doesn't have content that's relevant, and that it’s not engaging with people. Because of that, search engines like Google are not likely to continue sending prized visitors to your website. And even if you're willing to buy your way in through Google AdWords, you're going to suffer from a poor Quality Score, where the quality of the page where somebody lands on, doesn't match the ad. Or the ad doesn't match the words in the targeting. And this ratchets up your cost or makes your website ineligible and invisible.
So we need to be on our toes. We need to be constantly keeping up with these changes over time -- and be aware of that kind of generic content, one-size-fits-all or one-size-fits-most, just simply doesn't work well for the modern buyer anymore -- largely because of this whole idea of selective consumption.
Selective consumption is where people are going to get exactly what they want, one hundred percent on their terms, exactly when they want it. And if you don't give it to them, somebody else will.
And again, we don't have to look very far to see companies like Sirius XM, Hulu, iTunes (Apple), and Amazon. People are getting what they want. And if they don't get what they want from you, they're going to get it from somewhere else.
Quality Content That Pulls the Right Potential Clients Towards Your Company
Finally, in today's episode, I want you to understand that quality content can be a really powerful asset that pulls people towards you and your company.
Quality educational content, that gives them what they want, can be a very powerful asset and a competitive weapon to pull people towards you and your company.
The challenge, for a lot of people that are new to this: they spend way too much time talking about how wonderful their company is, how wonderful their products are, how many awards they've won, and how their employees have been with them for 25 years.
And you know what that's very similar to if you went to a networking event or a party over the weekend. And you ran into a neighbor or friend. And all that person ever did was talk, talk, talk, and talk. 95% of the time, this person is just moving their mouth and won't let you get a word in edgewise We might call that person an egomaniac or egotistical for running a very one-sided conversation. It’s not a good scenario to be in.
The problem is: most companies that are new to creating educational content, that aren't doing a really good job of building trust on their websites, are talking way too much about their own problems and not enough about their customers’ problems -- not enough about their future clients’ problems.
The Game Changer for South Florida CEOs of Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses
So to do this the right way, if we want to be able to use quality content as a magnet, as a big attractor to pull people towards you and your company, we need to be able to appeal to the right people, in the right places, at the right time, and most of all in the right context -- so that we and our companies are seen as the number one subject matter experts on what it is that we do best. So we get that key trusted advisor status. And when you do that the right way, that's a real game-changer for CEOs and their teams of small and medium-sized businesses in South Florida.
But the most important thing is to be able to be objective about it, to look at your digital presence, to look at your website, to look at the pages, to look at the navigation, to look at what you're sharing on social media, and to think about:
- Are you talking about what you want to talk about ?
- Or are you talking about what they want to hear about?
Because it is all about them. The better that you can get at understanding who exactly the “them” is, in most cases would be digging into your buyer personas, the better job you can do of presenting helpful educational content that grabs them by the virtual shirt collars and says “Wow! This stuff is really good. This is really helpful. I've been looking for advice like this for hours, for days, for weeks. I can't believe I finally found it! Who are these folks? What do they do? What else do they have to say?”
And when you get to the “Who are these folks? What else do they have to say?” that's when people notice that you have other content: more website pages, blog posts, podcasts, webinars, special events, and downloadable content. And in most cases, that's when they start to notice your premium content -- content that is so awesome that you can justify putting it behind a landing page and form, and using it for lead generation.
In today's episode of the South Florida CEO Podcast, we've been talking all about
- How you can build trust
- The different roles within your company that tend to be better at engendering trust than others
- How important this is in today's buyer’s journey
- The type of content that you create to educate and build trust -- and how this has changed over time towards a strong multimedia and video preference
- How when this is done well -- when the strategy is really focused on who's most important to your company -- the priority is on their problems, not yours