An interesting discussion recently evolved on the B2B Marketing LinkedIn group about building trust with prospects that you may never be able to meet in person because of geographical locations.
Of course technology brings us all together and these days it's no problem even for small businesses to effectively communicate with customers in other countries. But what about effectively earning the trust of those who haven't yet decided to work with you?
I'm of course not alone in believing that trust is fundamentally important when looking to cultivate business relationships and whilst it's never been easier to use online communities, social media and your own web site to do this it still requires careful thought. Blasting out noise might get you noticed but its unlikely to earn you the trust of a potential customer and telling people how great your widget or service is won't build trust.
So here's the basic tenets of an effective trust-building plan.
Testimonials are good. But the ones that really build trust are those that are attributed to real people and clearly highlight the way that your work has made a difference and delivered a positive outcome for them.
Sharing something valuable
Contributing to an online community is a great way to build trust. When people can see that you have something interesting to contribute on a subject that affects peers, colleagues and other businesses they are far more likely to see you as a potential business partner.
Content curation is a form of content marketing where a business collects the best content related to a specific topic for a particular audience. The key value is added by enhancing the collected content with opinions and expertise, and it's that 'human element' that is crucial - by relating it your brand or story it can be a powerful way to build trust.
There's no doubt that blogging is a very effective inbound tactic but done the right way it's great for building trust too. You should have a strong opinion on hot industry topics and offer some insight into how what you do and what you believe in can help solve common problems. It's not sometimes called 'thought leadership' for nothing.
Grow a following
In business if you have a healthy following then the chances are you're saying something the community finds interesting and valuable. People notice this, it's what some call 'social proof' and means people who you haven't met are more likely to start trusting you.
The social business
For example if you're using LinkedIn (and you should be) your business should have a consistent and highly professional presence. Your colleagues' profiles should be complete and up to scratch - they're brand ambassadors and in public should act accordingly.
Thinking strategically about your content is a good place to start if you want people to trust you. Imagine if your content told people exactly what they wanted to know, made it easy for them to do what they needed to do and helped them make informed decisions? Wow, that would be really useful - and would certainly help you to earn their trust.
Some other ideas to help build trust
• Share a story on Slideshare
• Write a compelling case study
• Host a webinar