No one trusts a sales message anymore. For whatever reason, after many lifetimes of strong selling equalling strong sales, consumers have turned off of brand messaging. No longer can you trust a press ad or a radio jingle to sell for you. You need a diversified strategy. And you need to think differently.
In short, ditch the sales message. Nielsen recently conducted a survey which proved a long-held theory: consumer trust in traditional media advertising has plummeted. Actually, “plummeted” is a conservative term; 90% of OECD consumers said they trusted recommendations from friends or users online, but only 10% trusted display advertising. Consumers don’t like the sales messages, and they really don’t trust them. One too many cheesy used car dealers, perhaps? Or just too savvy, with a world at the tips of their fingers?
Native advertising has its trust issues, too
And so the advertising industry panics. It tries native advertising, sponsored posts on publications – which, at the end of the day, is just a disguised sales message. Consumers don’t trust that, either. A study released in August by the Online Trust Alliance showed 71% of the top 100 news publishers received a failing grade when it came to disclosing and highlighting native advertising – meaning trust is eroding in both the brands and the publishers.
So this presents you with – yes – an opportunity. Consumers will still go online to research a purchase. They’ll still go online to look for hints and tips. They’re looking for help, for recommendations, for a community. And content marketing, done well, represents the personification of that opportunity.
Create a community through content
By creating and publishing useful, non-branded content on your owned media – your website, for example – you get the gold tick from Google for authority. But create useful content that hits the pain point of your audience, caters to their interests, gives them the information they seek without pushing the sales message down their throat – that is when you have the potential to create a community.
And that community will come back to your site, time and again, for information. After a few visits, they may even sign up to your newsletter, so they can be alerted when you publish new, great content. That exchange of data is a show of trust, and it gives you a loyal audience that you can communicate directly with – and yes, that includes with your sales messaging, as long as it’s in moderation.
What’s more valuable than a big, one-off sale?
Content marketing with a lot of strong, top of the funnel, non-branded content helps you to build a loyal audience that will then remember you when it comes time to purchase. And when they do that, you can help them further towards purchase by providing your product guides, your case studies, your pitches. The important thing is to pace yourself; don’t go in too hard too early. Let them come to you. It’s a change in mindset, for sure, but if you can get it right and have the patience for a long game, you’ll come out the other side with something more valuable than a big, one-off sale; you’ll have a built-in community that trusts your brand, and will come back time and time again.