Strategy creates a framework for building trust

With trust playing such a key role in the modern B2B buyer-seller relationship, having a framework within which you can create and develop that trust is invaluable. Relationships operate in a completely different way to those between businesses and consumers and with these relationships now increasingly geared around digital encounters, a comprehensive evaluation of some of the key steps in the marketing planning process will set the platform from which you can build B2B trust.

The first step in the process is to establish the marketing landscape against which your products or services are being sold. This sets the scene and provides context to who your buyers are across a number of key areas including situation analysis, segmentation, macro environment and buyer personas. Having a better idea of your target buyer persona in particular helps get into their mindset and think about what it actually takes to earn their trust in the first place.

Competitor analysis helps to pinpoint untruths and gaps in their positioning. By applying qualitative analysis on how they are positioning themselves, analysing their mix of marketing channels and using MarTech tools to benchmark them, you can then establish effective angles from which to make your target prospects question their belief and trust in competitor positioning statements. This may be in the form of direct product or service comparisons or it could instead be subtle questioning techniques within your own material.

Your brand positioning should be the vehicle with which to drive home the big idea or single point of truth if possible. Brand needs to be at the core of your B2B marketing strategy and is not just an area that should be reserved for separate, big ticket re-brand projects but rather a fundamental and central consideration which should be constantly re-evaluated in the context of any strategic development processes. Brand is based on essence, purpose, value proposition, personality and principles and all of these fundamentally link back to trust.

Channel analysis is another key step in the process as this will ultimately create a platform for recall and the reinforcement of trust. The B2B buyer’s journey has been completely transformed in recent years: there are more people involved in the purchase decision; the modern B2B buyer does their own research and it’s usually online; and most B2B buyers now twist and turn through the marketing funnel, looping back and repeating at least one or more tasks in the journey of Awareness/ Consideration/ Decision/ Experience. When selecting the optimal mix of channels, it’s therefore useful to align the mix with these different stages of the buyer’s journey.

Consistency of message is vital in respect of driving trust across multiple channels. Buyers will ultimately gravitate to those B2B brands that are trustworthy i.e. the ones that communicate in a consistent style and tone, with an authoritative and visually clear message, at all the key moments in their journey. In terms of marketing productivity this approach is just as applicable at the lower end of the budget spectrum as it is for the blue chips. Challenger brands that don’t have the same budgets should be focused on doing it better and doing it more personally, in a better segmented way and maximising impact through quality content and smart use of digital platforms.

Digital engagement figures offer a visual confirmation of trust or otherwise amongst your prospects and customers. A simplified and agile reporting dashboard can help set a better platform for tactical adjustments and squeezing maximum value out of every penny spent on marketing. This analysis represents the final and transformational step in the strategic planning process as this is the point at which the true measure and value of trust can be established.

In the post-pandemic world, the consequences of not having a clear framework for building B2B trust are that it gets shunted down the list of priorities, lost amongst a sea of sales targets and commercial “hard sell”. But trust is not a luxury or a “nice to have”. In this modern era where 80% of the B2B sales process takes place in digital environments it should be the absolute bedrock of any progressive B2B organisation’s marketing strategy in order to fully optimise their chances of success.