At a loss when it comes to building trust with your B2B audiences? It doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. Follow these principles — underscored with expert commentary from Industry Dive’s Robin Re (VP, Marketing) and Pfizer’s Ellen Gerstein (Senior Director, Digital Communications) — to create authentic content that ultimately builds the foundation for a loyal customer base.
Check In With Your Target Market
Conducting consumer and user research is an essential step to establishing a sense of trust with your audience from the get-go. With strategies like social listening, stakeholder interviews, and other kinds of knowledge gathering, you can start to understand your customer’s true needs, interests, and pain points.
Take note from Pfizer’s Ellen Gerstein, who recently sat down with us to discuss what it takes to build audience trust in an age of skepticism.
We try to think like our audience in everything we do. What do they want? What are they coming here to hear?
— Ellen Gerstein, Senior Director of Digital Communications at Pfizer
With this foundation, you can be sure to direct future investments toward enhanced targeting in areas of optimal impact — whatever that might mean for your unique brand. From there, you can develop realistic personas that will provide a guiding light for every piece of content you create. A practice that guarantees you always keep your finger on the pulse of your audience.
👥 Related Resource: Build stronger audience profiles with studioID’s Audience Snapshot Reports.
Recognize That B2B Markets Are Made Up of Human Beings
In our endless endeavor to land the next big corporate account, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that there are real people behind the companies that your marketing team is targeting. B2B audiences are made up of individuals — human beings just like you and me. That’s why it’s crucial to show compassion and create genuine connections with the folks you’re trying to communicate with.
The best way to do this is by producing honest and transparent content. This might take the form of a behind-the-scenes look into your company’s internal processes or manufacturing partnerships to reveal successful strategies and sustainable practices (and very importantly, the actual people behind them). Or, depending on your product or service, offering a crystal-clear breakdown of anything from sourcing and ingredients to salaries and spending.
Whatever content or topics make the most sense for your brand to cover, the key is being real in what you choose to say and how you choose to say it.
Create Valuable, Consumer-Focused Content
Gone are the days of self-serving content. Companies need to understand: it’s not about you. It’s about the customer. At the onset of any content initiative, as early as the ideation stage, it’s imperative to put your audience first and brainstorm around their needs and interests — not your team’s assumptions or your company’s next big product push.
In our newsroom, when we talk about content strategy, it’s just as important for us to determine what we’re not going to talk about.
— Robin Re, VP of Marketing at Industry Dive
“There’s what people want to say, internally, and then there’s what your audience wants to hear,” says Gerstein. “And that’s what it’s really about. There’s a message that usually gets framed in a narrative, but that’s hard for people to understand and relate to. We need to modify it so that they can connect with the content [and get true value from it].”
📒 Related Reading: How to Deliver the Content Your Audience Wants
Set a Clear Goal With Every Piece of Content
Art for art’s sake is always welcome and wonderful, but content? Not so much. The world has more than enough of it. To create content that’s worthy of a reader’s time and attention — not to mention your team’s own time and attention — you’ll need to do research, create a strategy, and set specific goals. Whether it’s building brand awareness, driving sales, or pushing your audience toward a certain guide or offering, having timelines, an end goal, and associated KPIs are a must for any successful marketing team.
It’s so crucial to create long- and short-term content like evergreen articles versus real-time posts or news coverage. “It’s a balance we go through every day,” says Gerstein. “There’s a need for fast content, so if we can’t get an article done in four months’ time, we may not do it. If it’s a heavy lift for medical, legal, and regulatory.”
I plan out a timeline to make sure it’s something that won’t expire in one or two months and will still be valid in a year’s time.
Demonstrate Your Brand’s Core Competencies
Depending on the size of your team, it can be difficult to churn out consistent content for your audience. Knowledge sharing is one of the best methods to speak eloquently on relevant industry topics. Jennifer Stenger, VP, DiveMarketplace by Industry Dive encourages teams to leverage their coworkers’ expertise in order to build trust and create truly compelling content.
Consider covering current industry trends, and including sound bites or quips on the subject from experts around your organization to add that additional layer of originality and color. Sharing the information you uniquely possess is one of the best ways to earn audience trust, especially within B2B markets.
Every day we try to be transparent and show our audience that we care about them.
“Don’t get involved in anything political,” Gerstein cautions. “We get a little cheeky on our social media channels and poke fun at some misinformation out there. But we don’t punch down. We just want to make people aware that if they’re science-positive, we’re here with them and we can provide content that helps them feel positive about science.”
What might that key topic or discipline be for you and your team?
Post a Consistent Stream of Content
Building trust is not something teams can accomplish overnight, Gerstein reminds marketers. “It’s something we have to think about every day: how to show our audience that we’re here for the right reasons.” And a steady stream of thoughtful, carefully-targeted content is the most effective way to achieve this.
With the help of internal and external experts, supporting your stances with expert commentary from the field via licensed content, article refreshes, and other content production strategies, it’s possible to build a strong, consistent flow of content — even with a small team. And of course, the more content you publish, the more powerful insights you’ll have in your arsenal to make informed pivots and decisions down the line.
⬆️ Related Reading: 5 Smart Ways to Scale Your Website’s Content
Are you ready to build trust with your B2B audience and level up your content marketing program? Let’s chat.