Introducing WIZ Advisors 5 C’s of Brand Trust
In our previous blog on "Brand Trust", we established why brand trust is so important in today’s digital world, let’s discuss how to build it. At WIZ Advisors, we have learned that building brand trust comes down to exhibiting five specific characteristics. We call them the “5 C’s of Brand Trust”. Back in September 2017, LinkedIn published their own 5 C’s of Brand Trust: Content, Communicate, Community, Constant, Context. Their goal was to illustrate how their platform can help brands build trust.
Our 5 C’s are different. WIZ Advisors’ 5 C’s of Brand Trust are a checklist for you and your teams to use EVERY TIME you deliver a sales or marketing message. With every post, upload, launch or email, the 5 C’s ensure that you are building brand trust with your buyers, an essential prerequisite for success in this “new world”.
Am I highlighting my company’s unique knowledge and expertise?
This is where it all starts. In every stage of the buyer’s journey, you need to highlight your company’s differentiation. Why should your audience engage, purchase, remain loyal to or advocate for your brand? If you are not credible, the other C’s don’t matter. Credibility is number one.
What are the best ways to build credibility for your brand? The most common ways are through thoughtful, research-driven white papers, e-books (like the one you are reading), interviews, case studies, and webinars.
The below Edelman chart highlights the specific people that hold the most credibility when it comes to brand marketing. Of course, industry experts are first, but a close second is “someone just like you” – a person with your buyer’s same pain points and goals. In short – your current customers. Customer reviews have become so important because they provide that objective third party validation. You are not telling your prospects that your products and services are amazing. It is coming from “someone just like me”.
As the chart also illustrates, Founders have more credibility than CEO’s. Why? They have built their companies from scratch and have the passion that drives connection. Less credible are CEO’s, Influencers with Large Followings, and Celebrities. If you remember from the Deloitte chart (page 8), Millennial buyers think most companies today are in it purely for the profits. CEO’s, Influencers and Celebrities are perceived as less trustworthy because they will profit from a company’s success.
Am I being honest and authentic?
This characteristic has become increasingly important in marketing, given the lack of trust and divisiveness in our society. As we stated earlier, authenticity is also a major reason why live webinars work. During live events, the audience gets to see you and hear you talk about what you know best – your industry and products and services. Even more importantly, they get to see you or your executives being real people.
Prospects want to do business with people they like. Whether a live webinar, a static piece of content, or a sales conversation, ask yourself these questions:
- Did I make them laugh?
- Did I make them think?
- Did I share a personal story?
- Did I teach them something new?
- Did I use a conversational tone?
- Did I admit when I did something wrong?
All these actions build connection and relationships – especially the last one. Human beings make mistakes. Human beings have technology issues and cats jumping on their laps and jackhammers going off during a Zoom event. Human beings miss deadlines and make incorrect assumptions. Be human. Admit being wrong. Being candid instills trust.
Am I showing empathy for my audience?
With everything we have been through in 2020, it is essential for brands to be thoughtful with their marketing communications. In a world where people are losing jobs and worse, loved ones, we must be more emotionally aware. We must show more empathy. What is empathy? There are many definitions but at its core, empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings and thoughts of another. It means trying to understand where another person is coming from.
There are three types of empathy – cognitive, emotional, and compassionate. Below is a chart we took from a recent Inc. magazine article that defines the three types of empathy. We have taken it a step further and provided current marketing examples.
Three Types of Empathy
|Definition||Relevant Marketing Example|
|Cognitive Empathy||Ability to understand how a person feels and what they might be thinking. It may be influenced by past experiences and unconscious biases, so do not to make assumptions. Take the time to learn about the other person.||Before launching any major marketing initiative, create or update your Buyer’s Persona (or “Ideal Customer Profile”). Document everything you know about your customers’ goals, motivations, beliefs, challenges, and hobbies. Importantly, have they changed because of COVID? This step will ensure your marketing messages hit home with your target audience.|
|Emotional Empathy||Ability to share the feelings of another person and build an emotional connection.||Emotional empathy goes beyond the cognitive and forces you to answer the questions: Why are my customers having these feelings? And how can I make them feel like I understand? Sharing a personal story is a great way to show emotional empathy. It can be your own story, your Founder’s story, or a customer’s story. The goal is to show that you understand, and you care.|
|Compassionate Empathy||Going beyond understanding and taking action to help.||
In marketing today, compassionate empathy has sprung from the most surprising places. Companies are helping address their community’s concerns over COVID-19 and coming up with solutions. For example, Glossier, a makeup company, planned to launch its new hand cream in April 2020. Fashionista.com magazine wrote: “Glossier has aimed to be tactful and thoughtful as it brings it (its hand cream) to market amidst the global health crisis surrounding Covid-19… The company committed to donating the first 10,000 units available to healthcare professionals in the U.S. working on the front lines at hospitals, many of whom have been documenting skin irritation from frequent hand washing and long hours spent wearing PPE.”
In addition to helping employees and communities during the pandemic, businesses have been changing their messaging to be more thoughtful and relevant. Geico – one the biggest advertisers in the world – decided to change its slogan in May 2020. “Fifteen minutes or more could save you 15% on car insurance” was replaced with “Geico: 75 Years of Real Service and Real Savings”. Geico understands that in a world of fear, anxiety and economic uncertainty, consumers want stability. They want their insurance company to be there for them – and at a lower price point than competitors. Geico’s new slogan is a great example of empathetic marketing.
Am I delivering a consistent message across all channels?
In building a brand, but especially during times of uncertainty, consistency is crucial. Every interaction that a buyer has with your brand should serve to strengthen trust. First, develop a brand guide. Distribute it to internal sales and marketing teams (and anyone else that might touch a buyer or customer), as well as your external agencies. Brand guidelines ensure that every communication has the same colors, look and feel, logo, tagline, voice, and tone.
In addition to the brand guide, your marketing team should create a content playbook. The playbook should include the most relevant content to use at each stage of the buyer’s journey. On the following page is WIZ Advisors’ Content Marketing Framework to help you in developing your own playbook. Your Content Playbook – which should exist on a shared drive – will ensure that sales/marketing communications are consistent and coordinated across the buyer’s journey (spoiler alert - “coordinated” is our last C).Consistency in internal communications is just as necessary as external communications. If you have not already, you should start discussing your brand vision, mission, and values often with your employees. Once you gain their buy-in on your brand positioning, they will become your biggest advocates. They will share product launches, webinar invitations, blog articles, etc. with their social media followers and spread the word to family, friends, and peers. They may also leave positive reviews on sites like Glassdoor. Buyers look at both customer reviews and employee reviews when conducting research, so positive reviews from employees have a direct impact on brand trust.
Are your Marketing and Sales activities aligned?
Last, but certainly not least, marketing and sales activities must be part of a seamless, coordinated process. We live in a buyer-centric world. They control how they want to be contacted and how/if/when they will respond. With a coordinated process and armed with information on your prospects, sales and marketing teams can deliver higher win rates, while also building brand trust.
According to Marketo, sales and marketing alignment drives:
- 38% higher win rates,
- 36% higher retention rates, and
- 67% higher lead-to-client conversion rates.
How do you create a coordinated process? The chart below from Hubspot illustrates how Marketing, Sales and Service teams can work together from the very beginning of the buyer’s journey (stranger) to the very end (promoter) to build brand trust.
Let’s look at an example of a coordinated process, using the Hubspot platform (www.hubspot.com). Suppose you are an SVP of Sales and have an upcoming virtual conference where you and your senior executives will be speaking. It is one of your biggest lead generators of the year, but you’ve recently had to move it online given COVID. Your marketing team has created a landing page on your website to promote it. They are advertising the conference through email and LinkedIn and have written an e-book describing current challenges in the industry and how your services help solve them. Visitors to your website can download the e-book in exchange for their contact information, as well as register for the conference.
Your goal is to have your top 20 prospects attend the conference. You sign into Hubspot and pull up their contact records. You can see which prospects have opened their marketing emails, gone to the landing page, downloaded the e-book and/or signed up for the conference. Did they download the e-book but not yet register for the conference? Did they open the email but not click to visit the landing page? You send personalized, follow up emails depending on the activities they performed. The Hubspot app on your phone notifies you when a prospect opens the email you sent so you know if/when they have engaged. Those are the ones you reach out to with a phone call. And you do it just after they open your email, knowing that they will be more likely to answer the phone given they just read your note. Now that is a coordinated process!
You can download and print out the 5 C’s graphic here, to use as a checklist for your own sales and marketing efforts.
Do you have an automated platform like Hubspot to coordinate your sales and marketing activities? You can learn more about WIZ Advisor’s Hubspot Services here, as we are a Certified Hubspot Partner Agency.
Reason #1: Buyers see a bigger need for brand trust today than in the past - and are much more skeptical.
Brand trust has become extremely important to buyers. In Edelman’s Brand Trust Study 2020 – COVID Update, 70% of buyers say that trust is more important now than in the past. Why? In Edelman’s previous brand report last September, U.S. respondents shared the following:
- Brands now have my personal information in their databases (43%).
- There is so much fake news and false information on the Internet (42%)
- I am facing financial struggles and when I do spend, I need to make sure I am making the best decisions (33%).
- The pace of product innovation makes it more important to choose the right provider (27%).
When asked about factors that are MOST important in choosing one brand over another, 80% of respondents said, “trusting a brand to do what is right.”
Trust is more important to Millennials and Gen Z than other generations. Four statistics from the Deloitte’s 2018 Millennial Survey , pictured below, accurately reflect these generations’ diminishing trust in businesses. Of note are their beliefs that businesses (a) are not “committed to helping to improve wider society” and (b) have “no ambition beyond making money.”
Reason #2: Prospects will not talk to you until they trust you.
B2B marketers know that building trust with prospects and customers is key to success. However, what we sometimes forget is that data on most aspects of our businesses are readily available online, with a quick and easy Google search.
In GE Retail Banks’s Major Purchase Study in 2019, they found that 80% of consumers go online to conduct research before a purchase – up 20% from 2018. They also found that consumers on average spend 79 days conducting research before purchasing a major product or service. When researching a brand, they may ask peers about you, go to your website, read an analyst report, check out your social media posts, search for customer reviews, watch a product video or webinar. They will take time to build their own level of trust in your brand before reaching out to you or responding to your calls and emails.
The latest Hubspot Sales 2020 Statistics validate that buyers prefer to wait until the Consideration Stage before connecting with a salesperson.
Reason #3: The importance of building brand trust boils down to the rewards.
With trust such a vital prerequisite to purchase, the rewards are well worth the effort. As this below chart from the Edelman’s 2020 study illustrates, brand trust leads to higher sales, loyalty and advocacy.
Buyers will even go out of their way to defend your brand if/when needed.
So how do you build brand trust? Read WIZ Advisors' 5 C's of Brand Trust.
The World Has Changed
It is 2020 and our entire world has changed. Americans have been living in lockdown, only leaving their homes for groceries, fresh air or exercise – and only then with masks and mandatory social distancing.
Not unexpectedly, the U.S. economy (real GDP) plummeted nearly 33% in the second quarter of 2020, following a 5% decline in the first quarter. Unemployment hit an all-time high of 14.7% in April – recovering to 10.2% by July (but still 3X the average pre-COVID) – and consumer sentiment hit an all-time low. Businesses have been forced to rethink their workforce strategies, business models and cash flow projections to survive.
How COVID Has Impacted Marketing – Permanently
The above chart was taken from Bank America and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s recent data showing that U.S. ecommerce now accounts for over 27% of total retail sales. While this chart depicts retail sales, every industry across the board has been forced to move to a digital sales and marketing model. Every B2B marketer and salesperson is using online meeting applications like Zoom and Microsoft Teams – many for the first time – to meet with prospects and close deals. CRM systems like Hubspot and Salesforce.com are being utilized to their full extent. If organizations do not have them, they are implementing them so deal pipelines can be managed and shared across stakeholders. As most Americans were forced to work from home, businesses that had digital sales and marketing infrastructures in place had a leg up on their competition. With a complete halt on in-person sales meetings and marketing events, the entire B2B buyer’s journey moved to the Internet – QUICKLY!
In the same vein, every marketer was forced to rethink his/her strategies and budgets. Trade shows and conferences that typically make up 25% of total marketing budgets have been cancelled. Dollars are either being cut or repurposed into the highest ROI digital marketing tactics. As the below chart from eMarketer illustrates, B2B marketers put their efforts into content creation, webinars (both hosted and sponsored), paid search ads, email and social.
Even before the COVID pandemic, 75% of B2B marketers and sales leaders believed that webinars were a great way to generate high quality leads (Source: GoToWebinar’s 2017 Book of Stats). But during COVID, webinars took on a life all their own.
Because everyone was at home and online, most people did not have professional equipment at their disposal. So, webinar hosts, guests and participants had to deal with issues, such as: technology and wireless servers going down, dogs barking, kids crying, ambulances driving by, and jackhammering and lawnmowers interrupting the events. But, shockingly, it made the events BETTER. It added a sense of “realness” that had not been there before. It provided businesses a way to build shared connections with their audiences.
What we witnessed was a perfect storm. Businesses could promote their thought leadership and gain valuable leads. Participants could learn. And both sides could form connections. Webinars helped people realize that – whether we are B2B executives, interviewers or one of many listeners in the audience, we are all human beings, facing the same challenges at the same time – and we are all in this together.
B2B companies quickly realized that webinars were a great alternative to in-person events. ON24, saw webinars on its platform jump by 330% year-over-year in March with average participation of 300 and total registrations twice that. Besides the human connection – which is by far the biggest home run because IT BUILDS TRUST- webinars provide three key benefits for B2B companies:
- They allow brands to showcase their knowledge and expertise which drives credibility
- They generate high quality leads who are interested in what you have to offer.
- They provide on-demand content you can promote on your company’s website for ongoing lead generation.
And the results support it. Below is a graph of a WIZ Advisors’ client. We employed a webinar strategy – three webinars with three industry-leading online communities in 45 days. Our goal was to drive high quality leads. We promoted the webinars via email and LinkedIn and increased Google Ad spend during that period (all tactics that the eMarketer chart highlighted!). Not only did the client’s web traffic spike (see below), but we generated a significant pipeline of quality leads – many of whom had been on the fence prior to those events.
How have your marketing budgets, strategies and tactics changed because of COVID? What are the trends that you have seen? We’d love to hear about it. Leave a reply below or reach out to us on LinkedIn or Facebook. We look forward to hearing from you.
Introduction – What is a white paper?
People sometimes confuse research reports and white papers. Research reports are typically the results of months – sometimes years – worth of research, conducted by a particular company, institute or government entity. These reports are not produced for commercial value. Instead, they are meant to be shared with, delivered to, or consumed by a like-minded audience.
White papers, on the other hand, are marketing tools that are produced by companies or individuals who have insight into a particular subject. While white papers could (should) include research, their primary objectives are different. White papers are written to:
- Educate a B2B target audience on a certain topic
- Showcase an individual’s or company’s knowledge on a particular subject
- Build brand equity and strengthen perceived value
- Convince prospects to take a desired action (e.g. visit your website, provide contact information in exchange for the white paper, schedule a demo of your products, or call you to learn more about your services).
Do people actually read white papers?
White papers are now the #1 most valuable piece of content in the B2B buyer’s journey. Statistics from a recent Forbes article confirm it.
- 89% of B2B buyers use the Internet in their research process.
- 75% of B2B buyers said that a winning vendor’s content had a significant impact on their choice.
- 82% of B2B buyers rely heavily on white papers (#1) in making their purchasing decisions. Other content includes:
- Webinars (78%)
- Case studies (73%)
- E-books (67%)
- Infographics and blog posts (66%)
Here are 10 Best Practices for writing successful white papers.
- Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time-Sensitive) goals for the white paper. Do you want your audience to visit your website, learn more about your solutions, schedule a demo, join a webinar, call you for a quote? Whatever the action is that you want them to take, determine it - and tell them to do it at the end of the white paper (see #8 – “Have a clear call to action”).
- Start with an outline. It seems simple, but writing an outline is the best way to organize your thoughts and ensure that you are telling a compelling, thoughtful story.
- Determine key words (to drive search engine results). Whenever you develop content, you should think about it from the audience’s perspective. What words would they use when they are performing an Internet search on this subject? If possible, use those keywords in your title, subtitle, and body of the white paper.
- Address your target audience’s pain points in the introduction. Some people will not have time to read the entire white paper (or want to). It is important to write an introduction that captures their interest. Discuss your prospects’ pain points and how the white paper will provide solutions.
- Include unique, research-driven content. B2B buyers are reading your white paper to become better educated. Teach them something new. Whether you have primary research from customers, secondary research from a number of public/private sources, or best practices from years of experience, share them. Your audience will see you and your company as experts they can trust.
- Don’t be salesy. Your audience is in research-mode – they want to learn. Win them over by providing valuable insights and a solution to their problem. Introduce your capabilities in a short overview about your company – AT THE END - but not before (see #9 – Add a short overview about your company at the end).
- Insert visuals to break up the text. Your content is always the most important part, but you don’t want your readers to get bored. Use relevant images and add charts and graphs to show statistics and trends. Create a graphic in PowerPoint and upload it as a JPG. Add a quote in a text box with a colored background.
- Put your logo and website URL in the footer. You are not making a sales pitch in your white paper, but you can – and should - promote your company in subtle ways.
- Have a clear call-to-action (CTA). Whether you want the audience to visit your website, schedule a demo, or call you for more information, specify it at the end – in bold. For example:
“To learn more about our solutions, go to www.mycompany.com/solutions or call us anytime at 1-800-244-5500.”
- Add a short paragraph on your company at the end. After the call to action, write a short summary of your business, including capabilities that address the pain points in the white paper (see below for WIZ’s example).
Learn more about WIZ Advisors B2B Content Marketing Services here.
WIZ Advisors is a B2B marketing agency in Alexandria, VA that helps its clients drive brand awareness and lead generation through high quality content and digital promotion. The WIZ Method is a three-step process to drive awareness and lead generation that begins with the creation of a research-driven, industry white paper. Learn more about WIZ Advisors by visiting our website at www.wizadvisors.com.
WIZ Advisors Marketing Strategy Monthly – February 2019 – Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
WIZ Advisors’ Marketing Strategy Monthly
Date: February 26, 2019
Topic: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
I hope you enjoyed our inaugural "WIZ Marketing Strategy Monthly" last month, where I shared some insights on Content Marketing, as well as a Content Marketing Framework. You can still access the framework at this link:
For February, I thought we'd address search engine optimization (SEO). Most companies agree that SEO should be a priority in driving brand awareness, but few know how to do it effectively.
SEO Strategy: The Four Pillars
"Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic - not paid - search engine results." - Moz.com
An SEO strategy includes on-site and off-site optimization tactics. Onsite SEO focuses on optimizing content and code on your website to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). Off-site SEO focuses on link-building, the process of having reputable sites on the Internet link to your content, because they find it relevant and engaging.
There are four pillars that every marketer must consider in their SEO strategy: indexability, crawlability, content, and links. Indexability and crawlability are related to the coding on your website. I am not a website developer - but lucky for me - there are fantastic tools like SEMRush that will do a free audit of your website and let you know any errors in code that are preventing your site from being properly indexed or effectively crawled by search engines like Google. The tool is extremely user friendly so even non-coders can understand and make the respective updates. The third and fourth pillars, creating and promoting relevant content and having "trustworthy" sites to link to your website, are significantly more difficult and require a longer term outlook with respect to results.
Download our "Quick intro to SEO: A Strategist's Perspective":
To learn more about the keys to executing the "SEO 4 Pillars Strategy" and the challenges you can expect, you can download our SEO Framework deck by clicking on the link below. In the deck, I have also provided my perspective on why SEO - while important - should be just one of many tools in your brand building toolkit.
Did you know that WIZ Advisors just launched its YouTube channel, where we are posting FUN FACT videos every month on various marketing subjects, like SEO? Check it out!
If you have any questions about the deck, WIZ Advisors, or would like to discuss your company's specific challenges and needs, feel free to email me or call my mobile directly.
Until next month.
Chief Marketing Strategist, WIZ Advisors
Mobile: (615) 934-1817
WIZ Advisors Marketing Strategy Monthly – January 2019 – Content Marketing
Welcome to WIZ Advisors’ 2019 Marketing Strategy Monthly! We wanted to reach out on a regular basis, interact with our network (YOU), and share our perspective on a relevant marketing topic once a month. And thus, WIZ Advisors’ Marketing Strategy Monthly was born.
Along with monthly insights on a relevant topic, we would like to share a tool, framework, case study – something of value that we’ve created and found useful on that topic – and something we hope will help you succeed in your marketing efforts.
Why Content Marketing?
“Content marketing is a commitment, not a campaign.” -Jon Buscall, CEO, Moondog Marketing
Did you know that content marketing was voted the single most important marketing activity to drive commercial success in 2018 (based on sample of 117 respondents from for-profit organizations, 66% B2B, 9% B2C and 25% both B2B and B2C)?
Content marketing was the biggest theme for WIZ Advisors’ clients in 2018 as well. We were asked to develop strategies, create and promote high impact content, and deliver measurable results in the way of: increased brand awareness, more qualified lead generation, increased website traffic, and relevant PR placements.
Our Content Marketing Process
How did we do it? The answer: a sound content marketing strategy that begins with a thorough understanding of each client’s target audience. There are five steps we go through with every content marketing engagement:
- Perform content audit – inventory and analyze current content, determine goals and metrics for engagement
- Develop buyer personas – develop persona(s) for the ideal target audience for your content; use these personas to create content that matters to your audience’s specific pain points
- Create content – types of content (different content for each state of buyers’ journey), themes, channels, call to action, delivery dates and metrics
- Distribute content – across earned, owned and paid media
- Measure and optimize – determine the right metrics to meet client goals, tools for measurement, dashboard - and optimize, optimize, optimize
Do you have a clear content management strategy for 2019? Would you like some help getting started?
Download Your Copy of our Content Marketing Strategy Framework
If you have any questions while reviewing the deck or would like to set up time to discuss your own content marketing challenges and needs, please contact me directly via email or mobile.
Until next month.
Chief Marketing Strategist, WIZ Advisors
Mobile: (615) 934-1817