Building trust with content marketing

6 minutes read
Sarah W - 30.07.2020
Building trust with content marketing

Trust is essential in everyday life, each decision we make requires a leap of faith in hope we aren’t let down; whether it’s typing our bank details onto a store’s website or summoning a stranger from the internet to chauffeur us around.

Every piece of brand communications has a massive impact; positively or negatively. With marketers expected to convey a plethora of messages in so few words, how are we able to ensure building trust remains a priority in our marketing communications?

The World Economic Forum suggests the significance of trust extends beyond marketing:


Trust is the glue which holds society as well as a region together. 

Philipp Rösler, Member of the Managing Board, World Economic Forum


Trust is often described as having three key elements:

  1. Ability - Is the brand capable of delivering what they’re promising?
  2. Integrity - It is likely they will deliver on what they’re promising?
  3. Benevolence - Will this brand put my needs above their own?

In our previous blog we shared our thoughts on the value of trust and why businesses – now more than ever – need to start prioritising trust. This time we’ll be delving a little deeper into what makes up trust and how it can be built in the fast-moving world of digital. 

A century ago it was easier to build trust, people would grant it freely. Our society was a localised structure, where everyone knew everyone, making it hard to hide. Break my trust at your peril, I’ll make sure everyone knows!

But then came the technological revolution and with it our ability to do business with anyone in the world, often knowing very little about the person on the other end of the deal. Our localised structure disappeared, someone's word no longer granted them our trust, so how do we know who to trust?




When everyone declares themselves 'world-class' how can brands demonstrate their abilities?

In 2017, MIT ran a real-world research project to understand how organisations could convince consumers to believe in their ability to deliver on promises. The research team monitored four marketing campaigns from an American car manufacturer whose products had been described as ‘poor quality’ in the past, working to identify the key ingredients to regaining the trust of the consumer. 

The research revealed that the claims made by the brands didn’t have enough impact to convince the market of their ability, consumers sought the opinions and reassurance from other people, from industry experts to ‘people like them’, before believing it.

Only after constant reassurances would they begin to trust the brand again.


92% of global online consumers trust word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family above any other form of advertising. 



Integrity - the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. 

As individuals and as consumers we’re seeking to become more informed about the things that matter to us, from the ingredients in our lunch, to the origins of our coffee, to the organisations we interact with and buy from. 

Today’s buyers have an abundance of choice – it isn’t enough to be the company with the best product. Consumers are searching for brands that demonstrate integrity, allowing us to see what’s behind the curtain, they’re looking for a brand that mirrors the image they hold of themselves. 

Organisations that facilitate this, understanding that each purchase is not just a financial transaction but a vehicle for self expression, are in a better position to thrive. Don’t fall foul and end up among Facebook and VW on consumer’s ‘brands not to trust’ list.


Benevolence, can the heart trick the head? 

If ability and integrity are the ‘rational’ steps in building trust, benevolence invokes emotions and feelings, the heart rather than the head.

Benevolence is ultimately doing good, putting someone else’s interests above your own. It may seem counterintuitive to businesses whose ideas are centred around simply making money. But can ‘doing good’ be good for the bottom line?

A survey by MECLABS polled 2,400 people to understand the link between positive brand perceptions and the levels of benevolence.


60% of customers that had a positive relationship with brands felt the company ‘often or always’ put the needs of the customer before its business goals.


Benevolence doesn’t just impact your brand and in turn your profits, it’s been found to actually improve your product.

An experiment from Kellogg Insight asked respondents to taste wines and judge them. When the respondents were given the same wine, but with the additional information about the producer’s benevolent nature (e.g. donations to charity) the respondents thought the wine tasted better.

Not just a perception of the brand or likelihood to purchase, but an improvement in the product.

(Don’t worry, the Six and Flow team will be thoroughly testing this theory in due course.)

While Aristotle did argue that there’s no such thing as a truly selfless act, don’t take his words too literal. If your intentions are too obviously directed towards your own benefit, your actions may have the opposite impact, leaving your bottom line worse off, not better off. 


Build it and they will come. 

As the world becomes more connected, power has shifted from brands to consumers. Buyers have more choice, more information and more influence, leaving brands that are unable to demonstrate their ability, integrity and benevolence out in the cold.

Just ‘being good’ isn’t good enough any more, it’s time businesses started showing that they’re doing good too.

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