Trying on a pair of jeans in a store’s changing room the other day, I overheard another shopper ask the assistant, “does it look OK?”
I’ve no idea what the person was buying but I know the question was directed at a sales assistant because the answer she got was: “Yeah, great; you should get it in the black, too”.
From my cubicle further down the room I could almost hear the woman rolling her eyes. She hadn’t received an honest opinion; she’d received a thinly veiled sales pitch.
Now, you can argue that she should not have expected anything different, but that’s very old-fashioned thinking. In fact, it’s every bit as outdated as the shop assistant’s sales tactic.
Give up on the hard sell and build trust instead
Imagine for a moment that this transaction was happening online instead of in a bricks-and-mortar store. A potential consumer goes to Google or her preferred retailer’s website and she searches for whatever it is she wants to buy. Let’s say it’s a new pair of jeans, because that’s what has been on my mind lately. She types in something like “trends in women’s jeans for autumn/winter 2017”.
When the results come up, what sources do you think this consumer is going to choose? She’s going to pick the ones she trusts — and the ones that provide really good, reliable information.
Perhaps that’s Vogue or Glamour magazine. Perhaps it’s the blog of a retailer she trusts, like Top Shop or H&M. Maybe she chooses a fashion blogger whose style she likes and who has a good reputation. The site she chooses is likely to give advice on not just the latest trends in jeans, but what to match them with, how to wear them, the looks for the coming season, and so on. There’s added value to the transaction for the consumer — she walks away with good, reliable, actionable information. And when she finally buys that pair of jeans, maybe she buys a new sweater and some shoes, too, to “complete the look”.
Trust is a commodity that is withering on the vine. This year the annual Edelman Trust Barometer found the general population’s trust in business, government, non-government organisations and the media “has declined broadly” for the first time since Edelman began tracking trust in those four key areas in 2012. That phenomenon is global, by the way.
Build trust with your consumers using content marketing
As Robert Rose of the Content Marketing Institute pointed out recently: “We as consumers have become actively distrustful of every institution and brand. We have successfully democratized distrust in everything we do.”
The good news?
“As content marketing practitioners, this new era of distrust is our opportunity,” he says.
“What if one of your primary benefits of content marketing was developing ‘most trusted’ status with your consumers, more broadly? What if your brand could not only be the most trusted on a topic among the competition, but the most trusted brand full stop?”
It can be. You can be. The first step on this journey is not ramming your sales message down the consumer’s throat. Give them something of value — information or entertainment. Build a relationship with them. Earn that trust. Once you’ve got to that point, doing business with you will be the obvious choice when the opportunity arises.
You don’t have to be the shop assistant, sounding desperate for a sale by flogging the same item in two different colours. You can be the consumer’s trusted friend and guide instead. Once you’ve achieved that, you don’t have to work as hard to make the sale.
If you want to use content marketing to build trust with your customers, get in touch with Lush — The Content Agency. We develop strategies and create content that helps our clients build trust with their audiences every single day.
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