In these unsettled times, this simple question matters more than ever.

Who do your customers or prospects trust?

Just consider that…

  1. Trust is our most valuable bond.
  2. Trust is at the heart of what believe to be true.
  3. When we value trust, we help to work out a positive solution.
  4. When you work to earn trust, you unlock the promise of deeper and meaningful relations and
  5. When we are guided by trust, we willingly work to create a brighter future for all.

In marketing, this question is becoming more important because as peoples trust in mainstream media reduces, they look to experts as the voices of credibility.

The 2018 Edelman TRUST BAROMETER reveals a world of seemingly stagnant distrust. People’s trust in business, government, NGOs and media remained largely unchanged from 2017 — 20 of 28 markets surveyed now lie in distruster territory, up one from last year. Yet dramatic shifts are taking place at the market level and within the institution of media.

You can see that the levels of trust based on 2018 data, is vastly different depending on the country you are looking at.

Where the US has had the worst drop in trust, and China the highest gain. Fake news has definitely impacted peoples trust, where nearly 70% of people worry about false information or fake news being used as a weapon against them. In fact, media is now the least trusted institution.

Listen to Jo Sheldon explain peoples trust in the media.

So the consequences are that over half of the people feel disengaged and distrusting of mainstream media. What is important to realise this that when people use the word media in this report, the mean both content and platforms. And this includes Social and Search as well as news outlets, brands and journalists.

What’s also interesting to consider is that a major survey by the global public relations firm Edelman has found that four in 10 people deleted a social media account like Facebook or Twitter in the last year. That’s not just deleting the app off their phone – that’s deleting the entire account permanently.

Trust in social media has also now dropped to just 41% around the world and is at an even lower 24% here in the UK.

So if we can clearly see who people don’t trust, we come back to my question, Who do your customers trust? Here comes the good news, as you may have the right strategy, even if you didn’t realise it.

Below are the top three ‘types’ that people trust, according to the data and my view on what you can do with this information to help support your sales and marketing efforts.

(1) The Technical Expert:

Top of the trust barometer is the technical expert. If you don’t already engage with these in your market, then technical experts are fantastic at lending credence to webinars and ebooks. Bringing this expertise into your content marketing, and allowing them to voice their own opinion will help improve your conversion, as it’s content that people want, and will trust.

Here is an important point to make, the experts might exist in your business, so you don’t always have to look externally. So go forth, and work out where your subject matter experts are in your business. Some of them might already be active in social channels or forums, some might even have started a blog.

A really good example is Steven Dickens who is the worldwide sales leader for LinuxONE at IBM, he has multiple thousand Twitter followers, 2,5k followers on LinkedIn and his own technical blog, talking directly to the experts inside IBM’s customers or prospects businesses. This is called “Expert to Expert” marketing, and the challenge for marketers is how to leverage this without stifling the speed and honest opinions that make it such great content. Help is at hand though, as tools like Passle exists to help you unlock your internal expert views and affinio can help you find external technical experts that already have an audience.

(2) The Academic Expert:

You can almost take the points above and apply them to an academic expert. However, our experience is that academic experts work better with words. Getting them to contribute to white papers, thought leadership pieces and blogs, is likely to work better. You also find that people searching academic views, find more trust in the written word, than the spoken. That said if you can get them on a webinar or doing a video on a customer pain point, then go for it.

(3) A Person Like Yourself:

This is the absolute easiest to implement in your marketing strategy. It means that people like to hear from people they have an affinity with, and in your business, you have lots of people. So it’s really all about how you unlock those people for authentic views and content, and channel that content back through the very same people.

Your team get great curated content, engagement and followers, and you get a free marketing channel. Here, I’m talking about an employee or social advocacy programme. It’s easy to spot the opportunity (this is often the lowest CPC channel and the lowest CPA), but implementing can be a challenge. It’s a hot topic for us, and I run a weekly a webinar with the CEO of one of the largest advocacy software platforms GaggleAMP, so if you’re interested in how to do this and to hear our journey (and what tools we use), please jump on the webinar.

There we go, in an age where trust is declining, hold on tight to those that your prospects still trust.

Final note from us to help conversion and ROI on your content. An eBook is great, as you can make one and it’s evergreen. Webinars are a whole other challenge, as people (statistically) don’t want a replay, they want the live experience but life sometimes happens between registering for a webinar and then having the time to attend the specific timeslot.

We’re testing software like AutoWebinarX to give us evergreen webinar content. It’s too early to pass judgement, but its super cheap and will allow us to run more webinars through more channels. We’ll do a specific follow up on this once we’ve tested.

UPDATE: The Edleman Trust report tells us the level of peoples trust towards entities. We also have a separate report that looks at brands people trust. If you like that report, just fill in the form below.


Having spent 18 years either running his own agency or an agency for others, Jason has strong expertise in both B2B and retail marketing, and has been working with large clients on how to bring campaigns to market.

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