Jewel Marketing
Taiwan Content Marketing

B2B Buyer Trust: Content Marketing Dos and Don'ts

By Jason Patterson

Founder of Jewel Content Marketing Agency
Trust is the single most important factor in determining whether companies do business with you. And with roughly 60% of the B2B buyer's journey complete by the time they talk to one of your salespeople, content marketing has a role to play in establishing trust, or undermining it. So....

Don't Gate Shitty Content

Over 70% of B2B tech decision makers are sometimes or often disappointed in the value of B2B gated content. Which is nuts if you really think about it.

Handing over your contact details and other information is an act resembling intimacy. You're putting something very sensitive in the hands of a total stranger. And you have no way of knowing whether pleasure or pain or disappointment will result.

Maybe you've just volunteered for spam bombardment. Maybe your data will be sold to some other spammer who bombards you. Maybe your data will get stolen and used for god knows what.

This risk is a high price to pay and the last thing you want is for a piece of gated content to disappoint, since a lead magnet is often the first promise your brand will make to your prospects.

Something valuable is given. Something valuable must be returned.

Make sure that gated whitepaper is actually a whitepaper (i.e., a piece of original research) and not just a blog laid out in PDF form that regurgitates numbers gleaned from Google searches. And if it's an e-book, make sure it delivers actionable expert advice and not just a sales pitch.

And speaking of sales pitches....

Don't Bait and Switch

I think we've all experienced this. We do a Google search. Find a blog that promises to answer a particular question, start reading, and then about halfway down it turns out the answer is "buy our shit."

Ugh, how lame. Wasting our time like that. Not only do we feel used, we feel suckered, which is not how you want prospects to feel during their first interaction with your brand (a lot of this is SEO content). Or any other interaction.

How many customers do you think you're going to win this way? How many subscribers?

And I'm not just talking out of my ass here. Such tactics have been shown to damage trust.

Is getting to the top of Google worth filling your website with people that hate you? Especially with top Google positioning getting harder to retain in the age of AI? Do better.

If you're going to sell, be honest about it. Don't play games.

The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior and you don't want people assuming the future will bring more games from your brand.

If you can't sell a solution directly, good luck selling it after a disappointment.

Don't Act Desperate

People don't trust desperation, they trust confidence. And a lot of B2B content tactics smell like desperation, often through excessive eagerness.

Strong brands work by attraction. By making people want to buy from them. By making them feel safe buying from them.

Weak brands lack confidence in their ability to attract. So they rely on cheesy outreach. Discounts. Eagerness.

Eagerness is a cheesy pickup line. It won't get you laid.

Don't Make Everything Conversion Content

Many so-called content experts say that every piece of content you put out must have a call to action, explicitly pointing the audience to another step in the customer journey. In other words, that every piece must be conversion content.

This is absolute horseshit.

It assumes that every piece of awareness content you publish must be aimed at prospects looking to buy now. But that's only a small percentage of your prospects. What about the ones who aren't looking to buy now?

If a prospect reads an otherwise non-salesy blog article, only to be hit with a sales prompt at the end, you've contaminated everything that's been said before, essentially by adding an asterisk to it.

And what's more, if you teach prospects that every piece of content you publish will hit them with a sales pitch, this will discourage them from subscribing to your blog or newsletter, because B2B prospects generally don't want to be sold to when they're not looking to buy.

And also more, you're inserting an ask into every interaction. And not just a small ask. You're metaphorically nudging your prospects for intimacy at every interaction, and nobody wants that, no matter how madly in love you are.

Constant cuddling is annoying. Sometimes you just want to sip coffee and read the news.

Don't Be a Dick Through Email

For some reason it seems near-impossible to do cold B2B email without being a dick. And I spot three distinct species of dick in the wild.

Woodpeckers Wear You Down

"Woodpeckers" hit you with a "tap, tap, tap" series of emails, each often more annoying and triggering than the last, that seem designed to exhaust your ability to refuse.

Time Travelers Come From the Future

These folks assume the foreplay is already finished, brashly pushing for a call without making any real effort to demonstrate why you should agree.

Pseudo-Partners Pretend

These are the people who act like they're not really selling anything (often leading with effusive praise), instead preferring to use the term "partnership." But this is a lie. Partnership is "I contribute, you contribute." It's not "I pay money and you give me something." Addicts are not partners with their dealers.

The first two categories strike me as B2C tactics misapplied to B2B. B2C buyers can be pressured, annoyed, or bullied into buying because consumer purchases happen faster, cost less, and are often made alone (among other reasons).

But B2B involves more people and more steps. It provides more time for cooler heads to prevail. And buyers tend to have more power, making pressure tactics less effective (and the businesses such tactics work on might not be very good customers anyway).

As to those who insist on calling it "partnership," this strikes me as overreach of B2B logic, where "partner" and "partnership" are thrown around a lot.

Some relationships start out as partnerships. But other relationships, like those between vendor and customer, must earn that title. By lasting over time. By being mutually beneficial. And by being collaborative in a way that goes beyond the giving and taking of orders and money.

Calling a vendor-customer relationship with a total stranger a partnership is presumptuous. But somewhat ironically, it's weak at the same time. It implies you lack the confidence (and the ability) to close a deal on its own terms and without pretense.

Which is pretty weak sauce.

Don't Make Prospects Regret Scrolling Up

Don't you just hate it when you make the mistake of scrolling upwards on a webpage and a pop-up window seizes the screen, and you're paralyzed until you either close it or accept the offer?

Come on. This is the most desperate-looking shit imaginable. It's the equivalent of blocking a retail customer's path to the door by tipping over a stack of boxes.

And the pop-ups themselves always look like cheesy used-car-sales stuff. Just pure concentrated weaselness.

Knock it off.

Do Be Transparent

All brands are faceless, but B2B brands have a harder time overcoming this because they generally don't have branded merch or retail outlets. In other words, a B2B brand otherwise unknown to you is basically just a website and LinkedIn account.

And those can be hard to distinguish from three monkeys in a trenchcoat. So consider letting a bit of what's behind the curtains peek through. Whether it's behind-the-scenes coverage, employee profiles, or even employee advocacy.

Do Host Podcasts and Webinars

Remember that "over 70% of B2B tech decisionmakers" stat I mentioned earlier? The same source also revealed that one of the big things these decisionmakers want to establish trust is "access to experts." This is where podcasts and webinars with subject matter experts (SMEs) and thought leaders come in.

They help give your brand a human face. They give prospects a chance to ask questions and feel seen. They help break the ice and build bridges with hesitant prospects who may be close to contacting you but haven't worked up the nerve.

Do Be Human (within limits)

When it comes to communication there is professionalism and there is corporate speak, with the former generally easier to endure than the latter. What's the difference between them?

Professionalism sounds like it came from a professional (i.e., a human). Corporate speak sounds like it came from no one in particular.

Professionalism communicates in a certain way to minimize confusion. Corporate speak communicates in a certain way to minimize risk.

There are times for both. B2B marketing should mostly use the former. But be wary of people who advocate going a step further and being very casual in your brand or marketing materials, in a B2C sort of way. You can use vernacular in blog articles if you choose to (like I do), since they're essentially personal communications.

But you don't walk into somebody else's boardroom, as an invited or uninvited guest, and talk like you would at home. Your brand hasn't earned that right. So I don't recommend doing it on anything meant to look "official."

Do Show That You Have Friends

Letting your prospects know what you do and that you exist is useful, but it often isn't enough. If you're not a famous brand, you need that all-important social proof to help show you're legit and on the level.

Media Coverage

B2B businesses must get better at earning their media. Not just for brand awareness, but also for the consideration stage of the funnel.

After prospects have checked out a product or solution page, they don't just stay on your website. They leave again and look for third-party takes and verification regarding your claims.

Good news, in this instance, is when the top result of a Google search is a favorable product review or some other rosy media coverage. Bad news is when information from a competitor, or covering a competitor, comes up first.

Analyst Coverage

Analysts are kingmakers in B2B. If you're not yet a market leader in terms of sales, an analyst firm can call you a visionary or pioneer or whatever other term they use and send you on your way. Especially since analysts tend to weigh up companies as a whole, enabling a form of brandbuilding that the media (which focuses more on sales) can't quite match.

And while it might not seem that way, dealing better with analysts and with media requires the same thing, telling better stories. Analysts don't know everything. They very much depend on what you tell them. And they need your help making sense of your products, your business, and how they fit together.

So again, tell good stories.

Testimonials and Case Studies

This is what it all boils down to. What you do all the other stuff for. But unfortunately, this content is not always where it needs to be. The first case studies may not arrive for a year or more after a product is launched, which leads to them being kept in their own dedicated website section, with none directly accessible from relevant product pages.

One way to deal with this is to create a "supplemental content" section for each product page. At launch, you may only have a link to a blog or press release there, but as time goes on, you can add links to additional content as it gets created.

Jewel Marketing Jewel Marketing Jewel Marketing Jewel Marketing Jewel Marketing