How to Build Brand Trust in the B2B Space (and Why It’ll Matter Even More in 2024)
Political polarization and economic uncertainty are eroding trust in institutions around the world. And while businesses in general are suffering less from declines in public trust than governments, NGOs, and the media, the shifting trust landscape is still something companies can’t afford to ignore. Let’s dig into the importance of brand trust in the B2B space — and how to build it amid global declines.
According to the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer, business is now the sole institution seen as competent, ethical and trustworthy. That’s good news, but it’s important to note that brand trust among US consumers is significantly lower than the worldwide average, which declined over the last year.
Source: 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer
Also relevant: social media platforms rank among the least trusted institutions in the world, which may impact how you communicate with your audience. Many people believe that corporate leaders have a responsibility to halt spending on platforms that spread misinformation.
Can Social Media Be Trusted? Maybe. But Our Loss of Faith is Real.
77% of marketing teams are planning to decrease social media spend as consumer trust in those platforms slowly erodes. While social media plays a vital role in word-of-mouth marketing, experts warn that many platforms have become “less social and more media.”
As polished campaigns replace personal content on social feeds and public trust in companies like Meta, Alphabet, and X declines, more and more brands are embracing influencer marketing to leverage the relationships and trust influencers have already built with their audiences.
Why is It Important to Build Trust with B2B Customers?
Don’t make the mistake of thinking trust matters less for B2B organizations than those who serve consumers directly. Remember, your client may be a business, but the decision-makers you need to convert are still people. They have values, fears, and goals just like anyone else.
More importantly, your audience is people whose decisions won’t just affect them. B2B purchases are typically much larger than the average B2C transaction — and the wrong purchase can affect an entire company — so decision-makers in this market tend to spend more time and effort researching a partner before committing to a deal.
As a B2B marketer, you’re probably targeting a lot fewer potential leads and investing a lot more in convincing them to convert. Building brand trust is a vital part of your job. But are you succeeding?
How to Build Brand Trust with Your Buyers
So in a world where the circle of people and institutions your audience has faith in is getting smaller and smaller, how do you establish the customer trust you need to keep growing your business?
There is no quick fix. It would be great if there were some magic button you could press or a “trust certification” you could apply for and post on your site to let potential customers know they can count on you, but those things simply don’t exist. That said, building brand trust doesn’t actually have to be difficult or costly. Here are a few key ways you can establish yourself as someone buyers can trust.
1. Offer Reliability
No one wants a partner they can’t count on, no matter how talented they might be when they show up. Be consistent and transparent to show buyers you’ll deliver what they expect, when they expect it. Start with clear, regular communication when you first start nurturing prospects and provide onboarding guides to hot leads so they can see exactly what working with you will look like.
2. Be Transparent
Transparency with your employees, partners, and customers is vital to building trust. When you are open about the inner workings of your organization and your processes, goals, and priorities, it becomes easier for people to understand your values and motivations, and that builds trust. Transparency can be especially important when things go wrong since potential buyers will be less likely to attribute missteps and unavoidable errors to malevolent intentions.
3. Behave Responsibly
Social and environmental responsibility are significant factors for many decision-makers as they consider a purchase. Treating your employees fairly and respecting the planet and your impact on it demonstrates that your organization values the same things your customers do, and shows your company isn’t focused on maximizing profit to the exclusion of all else.
4. Demonstrate Competence
This one is so obvious that it almost feels silly to say, but someone considering your solution for their company needs to know you’re good at what you do. And just saying you’re the best isn’t enough. Use case studies, testimonials, and customer reviews to demonstrate your organization can meet prospects’ needs.
5. Keep Things Positive
Negative marketing campaigns that instill fear in your audience are the wrong vibe right now. The Edelman report paints a clear picture of how worried and stressed we all are these days — who wants to hear more of that? Focusing on the consequences of not buying into your solution won’t specifically hurt customer trust, but highlighting the benefits you offer will resonate better.
6. Deliver Real Value
Today’s B2B buyer journey is challenging — and often not linear. The majority of prospects will research heavily before they want to engage with your company directly. Empower them to do that with content that provides real value. (71% of B2B decision-makers are often or sometimes disappointed in the value of B2B gated content.) Pressuring or spamming contacts will damage brand trust, while creating valuable assets and campaigns suitable for every stage of the buyer journey can increase the faith customers have in you.
7. Show Empathy
Empathy is vital to building customer trust. Your buyers need to know that you understand their challenges and are invested in helping them reach their goals. Once a prospect has made contact, work to make a personal connection with them. Let them know they’re not just another deal to close, but a human customer that you’re committed to helping.
8. Delight Your Customers
The number one way to build brand trust with potential partners is to let others do it for you. Existing customers who have enjoyed an exceptional experience with your organization can become powerful ambassadors, recommending you to others even though they have nothing specific to gain from doing so. Be sure your efforts to engage customers don’t stop once they’ve converted — a seamless onboarding process, consistent support, and training to help them maximize the value of your solution can transform clients into ardent fans.
TPM Knows How to Build Brand Trust
Are you successfully building a relationship of trust with your B2B customers — or are you just throwing marketing strategies at the wall and hoping they’ll get through? The team at TPM has years of experience helping B2B organizations of all sizes build the brand trust needed to grow and succeed. Contact us to discuss how we can help you.