What is the meaning of life? Enter this question in the Google search bar and you get about 992 million possible answers. But which answer should you trust? Should you click on the link from Psychology Today or Success magazine? Both publications deal with the question and both are “authorities” on the subject, at least based on search standards – they appear on the first page of the results. But one approaches the topic from a healthy lifestyle perspective and the other from a vastly different perspective of increasing your income. As filmmaker David Lowry once said, “I’m not searching for the meaning of life, but I’m looking for a meaning within my life.” Aren’t we all? And in figuring that out, we’re looking for an authority to trust. If we think about our higher purpose and how it fits with our emotional well-being, we’re likely to check out what the experts at Psychology Today have to say. If we’re looking for meaning in our work, we will most likely turn to, and trust, Success.

The importance of customer loyalty in marketing

Trust is the hottest currency in marketing today. After headlines like the Facebook / Cambridge Analytica scandal shed light on consumer data protection practices, or lack of, only 20% of US consumers “completely trust organizations to protect” their data, according to a Harris Poll. But another study, by software company Viber, shows that most consumers are willing to share data as long as they get value in return. So, to gain trust, marketers must to focus on people, customers, and prospects to create content that delivers value and helps people. How did we get here? We have come a long way from what some see as the golden age of advertising in the 1950 “s and 1960” s, the post-war period, the start of the baby boom, and the era of consumerism. Think of Mad Men, when marketers invested research dollars into motivational strategies and tactics, trying to tap into rising consumer affluence to sell products. In those days, the world’s Don Drapers were tasked with telling consumers what they needed and wanted. Nothing could be further from the truth now. Millennials today are the largest generation, and their worldviews, buying habits, and media consumption are very different from those of boomers. They are sophisticated and savvy consumers, and they have great influence on how people of each generation consume and respond to content, especially digital content. The concept of marketing as manipulation is not only outdated, it’s inept.
Today’s consumer wants transparency, they want a personal connection, they even want input in dealing with their favorite brands.
They want to trust that the places, businesses, and people they give their time and attention to, not only understand them, but are also aligned with their beliefs and have their best interests at heart. Nowadays, you need to earn customers, not acquire them, because they are in control. And the only way you can do that is by building trust. So how, then, can marketers establish trust? The challenge, and opportunity, is for marketers to create meaningful experiences and help people while also helping their businesses succeed and grow. That’s why content marketing is becoming increasingly more important. But not just any content – educational content. Content that provides answers and insights.
And here’s what too many marketers are missing: Even the best content is useless without distribution, and the best distribution channels are useless if they deliver below-average content.
Customer-focused marketing requires a multidisciplinary approach. Your media mix strategy must include both earned and paid strategies if you want to effectively deliver value directly to a consumer.

The Increasing Importance of Earned Media

Effective, earned marketing helps you establish credibility and strengthen your reputation. Effective, paid marketing allows you to deliver valuable content to the media and platforms your consumers trust. Approaching your earned and paid channels as equally important components of the same customer-first marketing strategy is key to creating the ingredients for a great customer experience in each channel. 
The reason people are less likely to click paid ads is not because they are inherently less valuable, it’s because marketers do not see them as a delivery mechanism for the same kind of quality content that they deliver through organic channels.
However, this is exactly what you need to do to humanize your marketing, because humanized marketing is the kind of marketing that allows you to earn the trust of the person typing into their search bar and looking for meaning in their life.

Brand Affinity in Action

A multidisciplinary approach to marketing creates a virtuous circle that coincides with the customer journey. The cycle of building customer loyalty and trust through content marketing A strong, earned media strategy means that your brand appears in multiple places in media outlets that your customer knows and deems to be credible, thereby establishing the legitimacy and authority of your brand. That builds, not just trust with your customers on the issues that matter most to them, but affinity (and revenue) too. Remember that people are looking for answers to real-life questions through Google and other search engines. If we, as marketers, create valuable, useful content to improve the lives of our customers and potential customers, results will follow.

How can we be sure educational content build brand trust? Because we conducted the study to see how it affects not only trust, but also brand affinity and revenue over time. Download your copy here.

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