- Generic content that speaks to everyone—and no one.
- Same-old, same-old, repetitive content, just like everyone else is producing.
- Gated content, especially when the value exchange between brand and reader is unequal.
- Content with stale data and outdated information.
- Content that promises insight but is a sales pitch.
But get this: Each of those challenges also represents an opportunity. It’s not a total washout. Even though reader trust is as fragile as an ancient manuscript—easily torn by subpar content— it can be painstakingly restored, page by page, with high-quality material.
The secret lies in strategic redirection.
Rather than being a source of disappointment and frustration, your content can be a source of trust and credibility and a spark for meaningful relationships.
To get there, you need a clear strategy rooted in understanding what decision-makers want. It’s not just about dodging obstacles; it’s about building a pathway filled with trust anchors that direct your audience toward confidence in your brand.
In this article, I’ll delve more into the Trust Index survey, specifically around the four pillars B2B technology decision-makers said they need to feel trust.
In the third and final article in this series—still to come—I’ll share seven actions you can take around those pillars to elevate your content from merely informational to genuinely trustworthy, turning potential doubters into people who trust your brand.
First, let’s look at the pillars of trust.
The blueprint of trust: Exploring the four pillars
Think of each trust pillar as a foundation stone, a non-negotiable element in the complex architecture of building trust. Whether the emotional resonance of a well-crafted case study or the empowering effect of actionable data, each pull on your audience contributes to the trust people feel toward your brand.
Storytelling with purpose: The role of case studies
Data might be the language of logic, but stories? They’re the language of emotion, experience, and, for 42% of decision-makers, the language of trust. In the realm of B2B content, case studies are the ultimate prize. They go beyond facts to narrate a journey that ends in a problem solved, an efficiency gained, or a goal achieved. This narrative arc isn’t just engaging; it’s profoundly trustworthy.
Meet J.R., a project manager at an engineering firm, poring over content about your company’s new software platform. He just ran across your case study detailing how a similar firm overcame its project management woes using your software. To J.R., it’s not just marketing speak; it’s the story of an unfolding transformation with similar challenges, solutions, and real-world results. It’s a compelling narrative that does more than sell a product; it sells trust.
But what if, as a marketer, you’re in that all-too-common scenario where you lack access to satisfied customers who could be the stars of your studies? You still have options. Third-party reviews, accolades, or even industry examples can work. There may be an independent review that praises your product or a well-documented industry case closely matching what your product or service offers. Such reviews and close cases can serve as stand-ins that allow you to tell a powerful, trust-building story.
Data-driven trust: How fresh insights build credibility
In an ocean of indistinguishable content, the value of data has never been more apparent—especially when it’s newly minted and ready for action. For 35% of decision-makers in the Trust Index survey, data that drives action isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s a building block of trust. It’s the difference between content that merely informs and content that empowers, between an article that’s skimmed and a report that’s saved, shared, and cited.
Consider Sarah, the CTO at a midsize software company. She’s been wrestling with improving her team’s agile development process. Sarah stumbles upon your article that outlines the common challenges in agile environments and provides the latest data on successful agile transformations. And it’s not data from three years ago; it’s a snapshot of the current state of agile practices. Sarah is impressed. She doesn’t just read your article; she bookmarks it, shares it with her team, and even cites it in a presentation to her board. In Sarah’s eyes, your brand shifted from just another content provider to a trusted advisor.
But what if first-hand data is a rare commodity at your company? Don’t despair. The internet is a rich reservoir of industry studies, surveys, and reports. If you can’t generate your data, curate. Be the journalist who reports the news, understands its impact, and guides the audience on their responses. Your content evolves from being a fleeting read to a lasting resource, a point of reference, and the quintessence of being trusted.
The wisdom of experts: Elevating trust through authority
Picture Marcus, an IT director at a growing e-commerce company. He’s searching for a cybersecurity solution but is wary of falling for marketing hype. Then, he comes across your article featuring an interview with a renowned cybersecurity expert. It’s not just another by-the-numbers listicle; it’s a deep dive into the state of cybersecurity guided by a recognized authority in the field. Marcus feels he’s attending a mini-seminar rather than reading a blog post. For him, your brand just scored major trust points.
In a B2B landscape loaded with jargon and complexity, the voice of an expert is enlightening and grounding. For 35% of decision-makers in the Trust Index survey, including expert opinions in your content can elevate it from the realm of the speculative to the domain of the credible. But let’s confront a hard truth: Not all organizations have a bench of in-house experts readily available for interviews or quotes. Does that mean you’re doomed to create second-tier content? Absolutely not.
If you have limited access to internal subject matter experts, look outward. Industry conferences, academic journals, and even social media platforms like LinkedIn can be goldmines for finding experts willing to share their insights. Also, consider Help a B2B Writer, a service that matches expert sources with the writers who need them. External voices can be just as influential in lending your content the gravitas it needs for prospects to take it seriously.
Solutions at your fingertips: The power of problem-solving content
At the heart of every click, scroll, and share is a simple human need: To solve a problem. Whether it’s as grand as pivoting a business model or as specific as choosing the right software, your audience wants answers. For 29% of decision-makers in the Trust Index survey, finding those answers in your content is a major trust-building factor.
Let’s walk a mile in the shoes of Emily, a marketing manager at a startup. She’s been struggling with her email campaigns, facing low open rates and lower engagement. She runs across your article: “Reviving Your Email Marketing: A Comprehensive Guide.” It’s more than a bland collection of tips; it’s a problem-solving toolkit. The article diagnoses common issues, offers action steps, and even provides templates for her next campaign. Emily is pleased. She applies your advice, sees an uptick in the metrics, and becomes a brand advocate, all because your content solved her pressing problem.
If you lack access to customer pain points and internal experts, let your journalistic instincts kick in. Conduct surveys, delve into forums, or run social media polls to identify the questions your audience is asking. Then, be the hero who provides the answers.
The beauty of problem-solving content is its immediate applicability, which makes it get read, used, cited, and shared. It turns your brand into a go-to resource, a trusted hub. And in a digital world where trust can be as elusive as it is vital, being the solver of problems is a role worth striving for.
Keep your eyes peeled for the final article in this series on trust. In it, I’ll share seven actions your brand can take to produce the kind of content readers want—content that builds and holds trust.