Using Content to Build Trust in B2B Marketing

Using Content to Build Trust in B2B MarketingIn the recent Edelman Trust Barometer report they detail out how trust is rebounding in a handful of Western countries especially in the United States where trust in business jumped 18 points to 54 percent. Which was an interesting statistic no doubt for many of us in business today.

But for me – the real story was buried on page 7 of the report (see graphic) which talks about the number of times your message needs to hit target in order for it to resonate! The question is – How many times do you need to hear something about a specific company to believe that the information is likely to be true?  A brilliantly phrased question from which comes the answer – 3 to 5 times.

To me this is the story for any content marketer like myself. Using a multichannel approach that leverages traditional and non traditional channels like Social Media is the key. And Social Media can actually help accelerate this stat for you because of the viral effect. Bottom line this is great news for us content marketers.

Say you are going to do a launch of a new technology product (like I am in June). It’s great to know your target audience is going to need to hear about 3 to 5 times to “believe the message”. And I think this goes for all of your constituent audiences in my case: buyers, partners, internal employees, resellers etc …

If you know this going into the launch plan – then its just a matter of how you are going to sequence those messages (for example do you send out the eBook first with a link to the video second and the press release third with the virtual event forth and the blog/twitter buzz fifth?)  And then what is the timing? How much time do you give each of them to “soak” in the market – like cooking you start with the hardest vegetables first that take the longest to steep – so perhaps you start with more traditional channels first since they have longer lead times to get to market and then start hammering the market later in the campaign to crank up the buzz.

The choice is really yours but at least you know how to plan for the proper amount of content. And I would also argue that a single individual needs to hear your message 3 to 5 times but don’t forget there is some “breakage” in the system – not every message you send hits every target every single time. So a good rule of thumb would be – double it and plan for breakage along the way.

23 comments to Using Content to Build Trust in B2B Marketing

  • Paul, wonderful post! People buy from people they know, like and trust. This is especially true for technology products, as stated by Geoffery Moore in the book Crossing the Chasm WAY back in 1991. I quote, “numerous studies have shown that in the high-tech buying process, word of mouth is the number one source of information buyers reference, both at the beginning of the sales cycle, to establish their ‘long lists,’ and at the end, when they are paring down their short ones.” Now, social media is providing the technology to support the buying process Moore wrote about – and for all industries, not just technology…!

  • […] testing live video stream in street view #Using content to build trust #52% of bloggers view themselves as journalists #Related posts:Twitter Updates […]

  • 3-5 times is no small hurdle. Especially when you multiply out the average response rates across all the possibilities. Email marketing gets read by what, half of one percent? Today the tech media landscape is so competitive that even IF you get in the NYT, you still only have a tiny fraction of your target customers that actually READ it. And then the “word of mouth” factor is so fuzzy to quantify that who knows what percentage of your customers are hearing about you from someone else. Anyway, it does seem like a pretty logical argument that content marketing isn’t some nice to have exercise, but one of the few tangible exercises that a company can do to make sure that they have a fighting chance to hit that 3-5 contact goal for a meaningful % of their targets.

  • @Travis – totally agree 3-5 times is reasonable but the you almost need to be a statistician to make it work across multiple forms media – content marketing is really the only option

  • Excellent article, Paul. We are a human resources consulting company and the product is really a service, but more than that it’s a relationship we are selling. The trust we need to build with our prospective clients prior to even having a conversation with them is huge. Educational pieces, content links, and service recommendations all help to get that message across.

  • @Tim – totally agree – with all the content and social technologies you can really get a feeling for what it would be like to work with a company like yours. Keep up the great work!

  • Paul, thank you for the validation that just posting a white paper on a website, or sending an email campaign about an event, is not nearly enough.

    I speak with many clients about the importance of repurposing their content, and it’s a difficult lesson. Many are reticent, because they are afraid their prospects will get bored with the message.

    @Travis is right, the read and response rates on many channels are so low that 3 to 5 actual reads of a message is no small feat. Marketers have to remember that just because they are tired of communicating a new message, that doesn’t mean their prospects have heard–or believed–it yet.

  • @Paul that’s such a great point – I sometimes find myself tiring of a message only to realize that many people have yet to hear it – thanks for commenting!

  • […] Using Content to Build Trust in B2B Marketing In the recent Edelman Trust Barometer report they detail out… […]

  • Paul, Good post on the #of times a message needs to be heard for it to be trusted. While this is an important piece, I think the question of credibility of the place where the message appears (see pg. 5) is also a very imp. factor.

    I was surprised to note that analyst report and business magazine are the top trusted sources of information ! What do you all think about this? Does this mean, we love social media but don’t trust it as a source of credible corporate info.?

  • @jijesh – I think that sometimes surveys lag the market’s true sentiment – and in this case I can see how they would respond with analyst reports as being trusted – but I would expect to see more peer to peer (social) interaction rate higher like I have seen in some other reports

  • @ Paul, you are right about the growing imp. of p2p interaction. BTW this is also reflected in the report, see Figure 7. However, the question really is – will peer-to-peer interaction on social networks gain the same credibility.
    My own, view is that it will.

  • How many times has it been reiterated by many bloggers that content is king? Content is the key factor in determining whether or not people would be engaged with your blog or not. The better the content, the higher the possibility of having more subscribers.

  • @Contact Center Philippines – Content marketing is really becoming an art as well as the science behind creating it – its one of the last frontiers we have left as marketers!

  • Great post and great information on the number of touches to build trust. This is a great challenge for marketers, because it makes the point that just having content is not enough. You need great, simple and surprising content that tells a story and engages the prospective buyer. 5 touches for instance should tell a story that engages the buyer and involves them in a story.

    In addition to great content, it needs to be propagated everywhere, so it can easily be found.

    Because the bar for business is so high today, I believe companies need a Chief Content Officer on staff — as they need one person to own this critical need.

    Jeff Ogden, the Fearless Competitor
    President, Find New Customers

  • Glad to hear the rule of thumb of 3-5 still holds. That’s what we used to use when I first started in marketing…ahem…back in the day. Also, that a multichannel, integrated approach is what works. Same rules, just new tactics added to the media mix.

  • Chris Williams

    Paul thanks for this useful info. Remember that that the 3-5 is just to be considered ‘believable’. If we apply the old and perhaps outdated rule of 7 touches before a client actually buys then we can see potential for the sales cycles to be lengthened. Given the shorter attention spans of our buyers it makes deploying social media all the more important as we deliver the content incentives in smaller more persuasive digestible bites?

  • @Chris – I agree with that assumption and like the fact that social allows you to explore smaller chunks of content with a broad audience – this way you can get more mileage from your content (humm good title for a blog post – Going Green with your Content thanks to Social Media)

  • Like Jennifer Beever, I’m also a Geoff Moore fan. He was my colleague and mentor at Regis McKenna Inc. where we tested his Crossing the Chasm precepts. In principle, I agree that “social media is providing the technology to support the buying process.” I’d, however, add a caveat. Geoff’s point is that WOM is effective when buyers hear it from others who are just like they are…or from sources they already know and trust. Therefore, it’s the messengers that buyers will believe, not necessarily the messages that are conveyed through social media channels.

  • @Joan – great point and an often overlooked fact – thanks for commenting

  • […] would also think that trust is key and good content helps build trust. Paul Dunay spoke about how you need to really drum in the message at least three to five times until people start […]

  • […] Using Content to Build Trust in B2B Marketing- Buzz Marketing for Technology, April 1, 2010 In the recent Edelman Trust Barometer report they detail out how trust is rebounding in a handful of Western countries especially in the United States where trust in business jumped 18 points to 54 percent. Which was an interesting statistic no doubt for many of us in business today. […]

  • […] most people believe that they must hear a message 3-5 times or more for it to resonate, while a full 11% of respondents admit that they must be engaged 6-9 or even 10 or more times before the message hits home — which […]

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