How to Build Relationship Trust with Content Marketing
You’re probably learning how to build trust in relationships, because knowing, liking, and trusting are the three things that drive content marketing. And if you’re not hitting all three, chances are you’re not enjoying success with your content.
Traditional marketing is big on knowledge: it’s all about creating awareness in the market. Throw in some clever messaging to generate some level of likeability and mission accomplishment, right?
It is as if the knowledge of a brand is enough to generate trust. And it’s true: we tend to prefer the brands we know, even if there is no real difference between a product and a generic one.
But when it comes to choosing between two or more brands, trust becomes critical. This is one of the benefits content marketers have over competitors who don’t learn how to build trust in relationships, write better content, or share valuable information freely.
And it can be a substantial benefit if done correctly.
Why is it important to build trust in relationships?
Building trust in relationships is important for content marketing because trust works on many levels:
- Do you do what you say you’re going to do?
- Are your products and services solid?
- Do you treat customers fairly?
- Will you be in business next year?
- Do you abide by the core values you claim?
The narrative touching on each of these over time helps prospects see you as not only trustworthy but also generous. Even uninterested.
3 ways to build trust in a relationship
In terms of persuasive techniques dating back to the time of Aristotle, ethos is an appeal to the authority, honesty, and credibility of the person speaking or writing.
And this is precisely how to build trust in relationships when content marketing is done right.
Aristotle also thought that a critical component of the practical ethos was a combination of sympathy and selflessness, which he characterized as “disinterested goodwill”.
The disinterest here does not mean that you do not care if you get a beneficial result; it means that you serve your audience, whether or not you get that benefit from a particular person.
The art of selfless goodwill
When you give away quality content that is so good you could have charged money for it, you are acting out of “disinterested goodwill.” That means your audience received value regardless of whether they ever paid you a dime.
It is this very aspect of content marketing that makes it unacceptable to some business people who want to make a living online. The idea of providing something valuable to the “caps” just drives them crazy.
I’ve been giving away free, valuable content for over 20 years, and all nine successful businesses I’ve started were powered by it. I have full faith that I will get the benefits back, and they know, they like it and the trust I gain is the only reason.
Just the act of doing content marketing unleashes the power of selfless goodwill. Short of that, there are three techniques professional writers use to achieve the same goal when learning how to build trust in relationships.
The “reluctant conclusion” technique
A classic persuasion technique is the “reluctant conclusion.” You share with your audience how you had a change of heart based on overwhelming evidence.
For example, you recently increased the price of your digital products and found that it’s killing your sales.
You could quietly change the price back and hope no one notices, but you’ll build more trust and goodwill with your audience if you explain that you were wrong about the price increase and reverse it.
In the meantime, it has also met its goal of generating idle sales. It’s a win-win-win when you count the additional trust you’ve built with your audience for future products and promotions.
The “self-sacrifice” approach
Another tactic is the “personal sacrifice” approach.
Yes, the free online workshop you’re doing on becoming a freelance writer could have been a paid product, but you’ve decided not to charge for it so you can help more people.
I’m sure you’ve seen this many times before, with varying degrees of skill in execution. The key to managing it well is, as always, knowing your audience.
The “Abraham Lincoln” technique
And finally, there is the “Abraham Lincoln” technique for learning how to build trust in relationships.
Lincoln was an unusual-looking guy with a thick accent and a whiny voice. When he made speeches during his presidential bid, he added fuel to his personal fire by claiming that he was a poor public speaker with nothing new to say.
And yet, Lincoln was a very brilliant man with an excellent understanding of the nation’s problems. He lowered expectations by presenting himself as a sincere fool, and by the end of his speech he had completely won over the audience.
So if you’re a chiropractor who also does content marketing, it’s all too easy to claim that you’re “not a master copywriter,” even when you start to deliver some very persuasive writing. Again, you need to know your audience intimately to understand what is appropriate when it comes to these things.
This brings us to a completely different part of relationship building.
What’s in it for you?
If any of the three tactics above sounded hokey or even manipulative, you’re not alone. That doesn’t mean they don’t work to build trust with certain audiences; they just might not work on you.
That’s why I repeatedly say, “Know thy audience.” I don’t use those tactics on you, because I think I’d get a chorus of eye rolls. You’re more sophisticated about marketing ethics than a typical audience, so those approaches might hurt more than help.
Some marketers in our space have resorted to “radical transparency,” when considering how to build trust in relationships. The problem with that, especially when talking about revenue growth, is it can come across as bragging more than honesty.
And if things start going badly, you’ve got to maintain that transparency, which may actually reduce trust in your product or company.