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Building brand trust in the digital-first market

With so many business interactions done via computer, how can modern B2B brands establish lasting customer relationships?

It’s Sales 101: The way to win business is to focus on the customer’s needs and get them to believe you have what it takes to best meet those needs. Traditionally, this is done through a series of personal interactions that build rapport and then trust. This is especially true in B2B sales with long lead cycles.

Relationships and trust have been and always will be essential to the sales process. But today, much of that process has shifted from face-to-face to online — to the point where many sales and marketing touchpoints do not involve a human at all.

The robot in the room

How can brands create and maintain personal connections when there isn’t a person? Granted, there’s always a person somewhere behind the scenes, creating marketing content and serving it up to the right target audience at the right time. But person-to-person business transactions have become fewer and far between, while human-computer interaction has come to represent a huge chunk of the average white-collar worker’s day. This was a growing trend accelerated by the rapid shift to remote work.

Companies now must show their humanity through technology.

The top brands have found ways to demonstrate trustworthiness, shared values, and even personality in new and emerging ways. Even formerly social media–shy industries like energy, healthcare, and finance are now using platforms like Twitter and Instagram to build brand loyalty through human-centric content focused on equity and authenticity.

Twitter posts from Charles Schwab and Blue Cross Blue Shield signal commitment to inclusivity and equity.
Shell Instagram Profile as of April 2, 2022
Shell’s Instagram profile highlights stories with value-focused themes such as Net-Zero Emissions and Respect nature.

Wearing your heart on your digital sleeve

Why the sudden outpouring of emotion? Two massive trends are colliding: Following the sudden halt of most in-person shopping in spring 2020, consumers of all ages increasingly research brands on social media before making a purchase. At the same time, Millennials are reaching executive ranks and Gen Z is gaining purchasing power. This is driving a generational shift toward a consumer mindset that values transparency and authenticity above economy.

You can see this shift in marketing strategy at play across every channel. Top brands aren’t touting discounts; they’re amplifying the voices of real customers and employees. As a result, branding is now more about feel than look.

Modern branding is more about feel than look.

Think about it: On social media, we build relationships — with individuals or brands — less through frequent touchpoints and more through moments of strong emotional impact. That’s one of the reasons social media is the most powerful and cost-efficient places to build brand equity.

Believe it or not, that next B2B lead you talk to may have formed an emotional connection with your company before they meet an individual sales or customer service professional. When someone interacts with your brand offline, then, it’s important that interaction reflects the same values they have seen demonstrated on your digital channels.

How are you building brand trust through digital-first, human-centric marketing content? And how are you reinforcing those same values during “offline” interactions with your human workforce? Let’s talk strategy.

Jennifer Roth

Jennifer Roth is a senior marketing communications professional with extensive experience developing innovative strategies for informing, guiding, and motivating people. Her unique blend of creativity and analytics has created value for a wide variety of organizations, from mid-sized local businesses to Fortune 500 corporations.