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How to Build Audience Trust With the “3 Cs”

Posted September 29, 2017

How to Build Audience Trust With the “3 Cs”

Posted September 29, 2017

Not that long ago, the majority of purchasing decisions were fairly simple. Thirsty for a soda? Grab a Coke or a Pepsi. Need a car? Head over to the local Ford or GM dealer. Settling in to watch the evening news? Take your pick from one of three networks.

On the B2B side, the story was the same; whether the need was enterprise-wide computer systems, staffing for your accounting department, or parts for your widgets, you probably had two or three choices, each of which was equally trustworthy. Sure, you were stuck with a limited range of options, but at least it made decision-making a fairly straightforward process.

Nowadays, the options are greater, and the decision-making is more complicated, not to mention usually involves more than one decision maker. In any given industry, buyers are faced with a deluge of competitors, leaving them wondering whom they can trust.

As marketers, building trust with our audiences has to rank among our top priorities. The people we’re trying to reach are being bombarded with marketing messages every day, from vendors in your field, and determining which one they pick will depend heavily on which provider they trust the most. How can you make sure you’re at the top of that list?

You can begin with what we like to call “the three Cs” of building trust: Content, Creativity, and Credibility.


If a total stranger told you “Trust me,” what would be your initial gut reaction? Probably just the opposite of what he/she was hoping for. But when we make marketing pitches to prospects who have never even heard of us, aren’t we doing the same thing — asking them to trust us with no context behind that trust?

Before prospective customers will even listen to your marketing messages, you have to earn their trust, and the best way to do that is through content.

By consistently publishing relevant, useful content on your blog, in emails, and on social media, you’re demonstrating to your audience that (1) you know your stuff, and (2) you have their best interests at heart.

What too many brands get wrong is thinking they can build trust by approaching their content with a campaign mentality. But trust isn’t built over 30 days, or even 90 days, no matter how good the content you are providing is. In business relationships, just as in personal relationships, building trust takes time, consistency, and commitment.

As you embark upon your journey to become a content publisher, it is extremely helpful to keep the following expert tips in mind:

  • Become obsessed with knowing your audience — their needs, their ambitions, their pain points — and use that intel as a foundation for all your content.
  • People trust people they can relate to, not “gurus” who talk down to them. Tell stories from your own experiences that make you more relatable.
  • Insist on the highest quality in every piece of content you publish. Your audience will take notice, and they’ll respect you for it.
  • Consistency is the key to building trust. Set a publishing schedule you can live with, and stick to it.
  • Remember, content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. You can’t build trust overnight, but if you’re consistent, helpful, and reliable, it will come and when it does, it will last.


As Mark Schaefer pointed out in his groundbreaking “content shock” article back in 2014, the volume of content out there on the Web is growing exponentially faster than people’s ability to consume it. The competition for attention has never been more intense, and marketers are struggling to rise above the noise. It can, however, be done.

Most of the content clogging up the internet is “me too” content from “me too” marketers, recycling the same ideas your customers have seen time and time again. In this hyper-competitive environment, we can’t be cookie-cutter copies of our competitors. We have to take risks, and weave creativity into everything we do. If we can demonstrate to our audience that we’ll go the extra mile to bring them innovative, well-thought-out, journalistic-quality content. When we do this, we make huge strides in earning their trust.

As you set out to attract, engage, and enthrall your target audience through creative content, here are a few strategies to keep in mind:

  • Master the art of the headline. It’s the one part of any piece of content your audience is sure to read, (whether they discover it by search, navigate to it on your site, or see a link in an email), so make it irresistible.
  • Offer unique perspectives on current issues in your customers’ industry.
  • Add a human touch by using personal stories to illustrate your points.
  • Discover innovative ways to weave text, video, images, and audio into your storytelling repertoire.
  • Develop a strong voice and infuse it into everything you publish.


As the old adage goes, “talk about what you know, and know what you talk about.” Every organization has a wealth of valuable knowledge in one or two specific areas. By focusing on your specific area of expertise, you can start building a foundation of audience trust, that turns fans into followers, and followers into customers.

As marketers move into content publishing, the temptation to “be all things to all people” can be hard to resist. Brands become influencers, not by appealing to the broadest common denominator, but by focusing on their specific areas of expertise. By establishing more and more credibility with every blog post, every email, every social media post, they begin to earn that audience trust.

In addition to talking about what we know, and knowing what we talk about, here are some additional points to consider, when building credibility among your audience:

  • Remember that credibility and humility are not mutually exclusive. If you’re asked a question and don’t know the answer, admit you don’t know it, and then go find the information.
  • Don’t just share your own ideas. Cultivate the art of content curation and expose your audience to the views of additional experts in the field you are discussing.
  • Invite industry influencers to contribute to your content in the form of guest blog posts, podcast interviews, or Twitter chats.
  • Look for additional opportunities to contribute articles to industry publications, as well as other blogs, and to present at industry conferences.
  • Connect one-on-one with influencers and invite them to comment on and share your content.

A Final Word

An extremely important word of advice about audience trust: always treat it like the precious commodity it is. Once you’ve earned the trust of your audience through your content, creativity, and credibility, continue everything you did to earn it: serving their needs, being consistent, sticking to what you know, and all the other practices we discussed in this blog. Your audience relationships will move beyond the transactional phase, (ask a question, find the answer, move on), to evolve into a true relationship. Building trust among those you aim to serve will make them want to jump onto your bandwagon, engage with you regularly, and become your most vocal brand advocates.