Before a decision-maker decides whether or not to purchase something in a B2B environment, they don't only read one piece of content and then suddenly decide to purchase a piece of software for thousands of dollars.
According to TrustRadius, B2B buyers consult roughly seven information sources before making a purchase decision. Of those seven information sources, company blog content ranks near the bottom with buyers preferring product demos, websites and user reviews, among others.
So, if simply publishing content regularly doesn't move the needle as much it once did, what can companies do to build trust?
Trust is one of the primary currencies in the B2B space. When customers trust a brand, they are more likely to do business with them and can eventually turn into loyal brand advocates. Before that stage, however, many are simply trying to determine how legitimate the company is.
According to Michael Alexis, CEO of Seattle-WA.-based, virtual team activity building company, TeamBuilding, B2B customers want to "make sure they get exactly what they need, and that it matches their budget. Because of this, trust and credibility are incredibly important. Most clients will look for reviews and other indicators to make sure you are legitimate."
Reviews from others who have worked with a brand are a great way to determine how much trust and credibility a company has in a particular industry. For those that are still establishing themselves or looking to grow their business then a key way to do so is through thought leadership.
Thought leadership indicates that you're a recognized authority in a particular industry. These leaders are seen as the go-to experts about specific topics, and that pedigree has a significant impact on brand trustworthiness.
"To establish yourself as a thought leader, you need first to have a unique perspective on your industry that isn't shared by many. You use that as your platform to begin pushing content about your perspective into the market," says Jason Widup, VP of Marketing at San Francisco, CA.-based ABM-marketing firm, Metadata.io.
So where should you share your content? Here are a couple places to get started.
Widup says that social media platforms such as LinkedIn offer an avenue for B2B thought leaders to publish content consistently. But sharing content isn't the only ingredient to successfully build trust. Social media also makes it possible to deeply engage with the exact groups of people who you want to trust you.
Events, even virtual ones like webinars, are another way to become a thought leader in your industry. But being listed as a speaker and providing the same take as everyone else on a topic isn't enough. Speakers need to have a unique approach if they want people to trust their opinion.
"Standing out with compelling and impactful insights that haven't been discussed already is a good way to start establishing yourself as a thought leader," said Dux Raymond Sy, Chief Brand Officer at New Jersey,NJ.-based AvePoint.
Finally, companies can coin new terms and create new categories to make their marks as thought leaders. "We talk about The 8% Rule, which is a heuristic for dedicated about 8% of the time in any team meeting to doing fun engaging activities. These coined terms are easy to remember and apply, which establishes your thought leadership," Alexis explained.
This method has seen companies like Drift establish themselves as thought leaders with new categories like conversational marketing.
Building trust with potential customers doesn't happen overnight, nor does becoming a thought leader. However, by using methods like social media, speaking at industry events and becoming category creators, brands can begin to establish themselves through the content that they create.
Where you choose to create your content is one piece of the puzzle, but according to our experts, how you make that content is just as important. Here's where they've found success:
"Engaging in communities, like the Microsoft Tech community, and consistently focusing on creating easy experiences from trial to purchase, and showcasing a variety of voices to demonstrate breadth have proven to be effective," said Sy.
The content you create is part of the experience customers will have with your brand. For them to trust you, it's imperative that the experience is a good one, and that you're able to relate to them about the issues they're facing in their own business.
"Approaching the content in a non-sales way — what would actually be helpful to my audience — is the only approach that works. People can sniff out inauthenticity very quickly," added Widup.
The pushy salesman tactic to get customers to buy from you is no longer effective. Instead, focus on how you can help them solve their problems