“Sales is the transfer of trust.“–Jack Daly, international sales guru.
Said another way, when you have earned trust, selling something gets a lot easier. When you don’t have trust, or when you have destroyed trust, selling gets a lot harder.
What does this have to do with content? Everything.
Here are three ways that companies are jeopardizing trust with an SMB audience with content.
- Wasting the reader’s time. This is a new one, because up until a few years ago, you could “get away with” average content–not anymore. There is simply too much content. So now, when the content is “good enough” the reader is annoyed because you have wasted their time. Do that a few times and you are no longer a destination or a trusted resource. By the way, if the reader’s content experience isn’t stellar (meaning that the content is difficult to consume), it is almost as bad as poor content.
- Selling instead of educating. Let me be clear: a successful content marketing program makes the cash register ring, directly or indirectly. The way a good SMB content program typically does that is to educate on topics related to the benefits of your products. Content marketing is not producing content about your products’ features or trying to convince someone to buy your product. That is marketing copy.
- Misunderstanding buyer intent when they consume content. This is a tricky one, but I’ll offer a very simple example: have you ever downloaded a whitepaper, only to have the phone ring a day later because a salesperson got your name off of the form you filled out? We all have, and it is quite a turnoff. This is a terrific way for a company to take a great opportunity to build trust (with a great whitepaper) and then destroy it.
That said, content consumption can be an indicator of product interest which is why lead scores go up with content consumption. Just remember that one click of an article in your email newsletter (or a single whitepaper download) doesn’t mean that the reader wants to get a call from a salesperson. I recently downloaded a whitepaper and 3 days later got an email from a salesperson saying something to the effect of “Thanks for downloading. If you have any questions about the whitepaper, I am happy to answer them for you.” That was appreciated.
The easiest way to ensure your content builds trust is to think of those who consume your content as an audience. When you do this, similar to how a media company would, you:
- Don’t assume that the entire audience consists of buyers
- Ensure that you have great sources for your content
- Publish content consistently
- Provide appropriate CTAs with good options (read related articles, sign up for a newsletter, purchase, etc.) regardless of where the reader is in the buyer’s journey
“Best way to sell something: don’t sell anything. Earn the awareness, respect, and trust of those who might buy.” -Rand Fishkin, CEO and Founder, SEOmoz