Marketing cycles tend to be longer in B2B than B2C. This is due to several factors, including higher costs and the implications of a poor purchase decision. A bad purchase can have severe impacts on the operations of an entire company and potentially put multiple people’s jobs at risk, so of course, they’re going to take a bit more time.

That’s why a lot of B2B marketing revolves around building trust. This includes both leads, so they’ll trust you enough to purchase from you, and current customers, so that they’ll continue to purchase and hopefully become advocates for you.

But how do you build this trusted relationship between you and your audience? In this article, we’ve identified several methods B2B marketers can use to build trust and develop relationships.

Thought leadership content

Thought leadership is really just a fancy way of describing actions you and members of your company take to show they understand both the industry they’re in and their customers. It’s a way to show how good you are as a business, how much you understand your target market, and show how your products and services can help your target market.

Thought leadership plays an important role in building trust in your target market. 48% of B2B buyers spend at least an hour a week engaging with thought leadership content, with 89% saying thought leadership content has enhanced their perceptions of an organization.

It can take many forms: videos, blogs, reports, guest articles, case studies, speaking at an event, and more. It can be as long and in-depth as a whitepaper, or a short and sweet social media post. All that matters is that the content addresses problems in your/your customers’ industry, and (hopefully) how your business is solving those issues.

Your customers

Having customers is great. Having customers that create more customers for you is even better. There’s a good reason turning customers into ambassadors is the ultimate goal of most customer retention funnels.

Customer retention funnel
An example of a customer retention funnel

User-generated content has been cited as one of the most credible sources of content to B2B buyers. This can be as simple as a customer review or interactions on social media.

The gold standard to aim for is also the most complex: case studies. Of all types of content, case studies have been cited as the most valuable to B2B buyers. They’re an excellent way for you to show your biggest successes, backed up with clear evidence and data to support the claims you make in other forms of marketing.

But how do you turn customers into ambassadors? There's no secret method or anything, just treat them well! Provide quality products and services, effective post-purchase support, and keep engaged with them on other channels.

Make sure they're happy! A happy customer might be likely to sing your praises, but an unhappy customer is even more likely to let people know they’re unhappy with you (even if it’s really not your fault)!

Earned media

Earned media is any kind of content that relates to you and your company, which you don’t own (so it’s not hosted on your website or a social media channel you run) or you haven’t paid for (like sponsored content or paid ad placements). This can include press coverage, invitations for members of your organization to speak at events or on podcasts, or any other coverage you might receive from third-party sources.

Third-party sources equal user-generated content in terms of credibility with B2B buyers. However, since it’s not something you directly control, it’s a little harder to foster.

The first step is to actually let the third-party sources know who you are. You can do this by engaging in PR outreach activities. Examples include:

  • Sending press releases to the right outlets.
  • Attending industry events.
  • Positioning your own content on external platforms that are likely to get noticed.
  • Some good old-fashioned networking.

You can find out more about how to use your owned media to generate earned media here.

Be visible

61% of B2B purchase decisions start with a web search. 77% of B2B buyers won’t speak to a salesperson until they’ve conducted their own research.

That means if they can’t find you, they’re not going to buy from you. But guess what? Those last three methods for building trust are also major principles in most SEO strategies:

  • The more relevant content you put out to your industry and customers (thought leadership), the easier you are to find online.
  • Better customer reviews will make your site more reliable in the eyes of Google and other search engines.
  • Being featured on credible third-party sites (which should have a link to your site somewhere in the content), will increase your Google Page ranking, which means Google will prioritize your site when it comes to relevant searches.

You’ll also want to make sure your company has an active social media presence. 55% of B2B buyers use social media for research, while a whopping 84% of CEOs and VPs use it to make purchasing decisions. If you’ve been doing all this work from the previous strategies to develop credible content, you should be using your social media to distribute it!

You should at least have a LinkedIn page in the B2B world, but Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can be a great help. Once you’ve got them down, you might want to explore some other channels.

There you have it, some great methods to build trust in your B2B brand through marketing. It can be a long process, but with plenty of rewards in the end.

Got any top tips on building trust? Let us know!