2014 is quickly drawing to a close, and planning sessions for 2015 are already well underway. But as you head to the drawing boards for the coming year’s marketing campaigns, it’s important to look back at the year behind us — not only to assess your accomplishments, but to identify any mistakes. And, specifically, any mistakes that could impact your company’s public image.
Inbound marketing has completely shifted the marketing paradigm. Instead of waiting for canned marketing messages to be pushed onto them, customers are seeking out companies that they feel good about working with; companies that reflect their own ideals, have a human element to them, and above all, companies that are honest and trustworthy. As marketers, this means it’s more important than ever before to be representing your business in a responsible way — through your content, messaging, and interactions.
Let’s take a look at three major marketing mistakes (borrowed from this ever-applicable Copyblogger article) that could cause consumers to lose trust in your brand, as well as some simple fixes to try in 2015 if you’re guilty of some occasional missteps.
Mistake #1: You’ve had trouble admitting you’re wrong…
Have you ever met someone who can’t admit when they’re wrong (or even admit when they don’t know something)? Not only does incessant stubbornness come across as arrogant and obnoxious, it also causes you to discredit most things that person says. The same holds true for companies — if you are extremely defensive about errors, it creates the impression that appearing in control and in-the-know is more important than conveying truthful information.
Quick Fix: If you’re guilty of occasionally getting defensive or pointing fingers when your company is called out on an error (hey, maybe it really wasn’t your fault), it’s time to be proactive. Jump into conversations about your industry on third-party sites (Quora questions, LinkedIn discussions, etc.) and share helpful information that doesn’t push your product. Showing that your wallet isn’t your only concern and that you can admit that there are other feasible solutions goes a long way towards establishing credibility and trust with your reader.
Mistake #2: You’ve been anti-social…
Let’s face it: in 2015, there’s really no viable excuse for your company not having a social presence. But don’t forget that misusing social media is one of the quickest ways to lose trust as well. Being too aggressive (“friending” a prospect on Facebook, for example), talking only about yourself, or in any way resorting to rudeness in a public forum are all great ways to instantly alienate your followers.
Quick Fix: Unfortunately, some social media blunders are hard to come back from. But if you’re guilty of seeming a little too self-promotional, the quickest way to reestablish trust on social is to be more…well, social. Find new ways to interact. Set aside 30 minutes a week to check out other companies’ content, and “Like,” retweet, comment, and share. If you’re lucky, they’ll even return the favor.
Mistake #3: You’re guilty of “writing for robots”…
Copyblogger says it best: “Write for people first, search engines second.” Yes, content creation is an important part of inbound marketing, but if you’re creating content purely for the sake of SEO — or even creating content just for the sake of having content — you’re likely having more of a negative impact than a positive one. Keyword stuffing isn’t just ineffective, it’s also a total waste of time; any potential benefits from this black-hat approach to SEO are lost when your readers can’t read your content without going cross-eyed. And when you distribute content that doesn’t serve a clear purpose or include helpful, valuable information, you cause your reader to lose trust not only in your content but in your brand and product as a whole.
Quick Fix: The quick fix here is simple: stop creating crap content (sorry, that’s the nicest way to put it). Luckily, it’s actually a lot easier to write for humans than for robots. Your readers are looking for writing that is simple, conversational, concise, and above all, helpful. Check out these resources on writing customer-centric content and taking a more effective approach to SEO — and only use keywords where they feel natural.
At the end of the day, there’s no real “quick fix” for establishing trust with your target audience. Just as in personal relationships, earning trust requires a constant effort to be genuine, helpful, and forthright. But, also as in personal relationships, a small gesture can go a long way in making an impression and establishing your company’s reputation. So try out a few of these “quick fixes,” and let us know your thoughts on the matter in our comments section!