At its essence, those three things are why we do content marketing. And if you’re not hitting all three, you’re likely not enjoying success with your content.
Traditional marketing is big on the know — it’s all about creating awareness in the marketplace. Add in some clever messaging to prompt some level of liking, and mission accomplished, right?
It’s as if awareness of a brand is enough to spark trust. And it’s true — we do tend to prefer brands that we know, even if there’s no true difference between one product and a generic one.
But when it comes down to choosing between two or more brands, trust becomes critical. This is one of the benefits that content marketers have over competitors who don’t create and freely share valuable information — and it can be substantial if done correctly.
Content marketing allows you to tell stories that touch on each of these over time. Even more, your brand can be viewed as not only trustworthy, but generous. Even selfless.
In terms of persuasion techniques dating back to the time of Aristotle, ethos is an appeal to the authority, honesty, and credibility of the person speaking or writing.
And that’s exactly what builds trust and influence when content marketing is done well.
Aristotle also thought that a key component of effective ethos was a combination of likability and selflessness, which he characterized as “disinterested goodwill.”
Disinterest here doesn’t mean you don’t care if you get a beneficial outcome — it means you serve your audience whether or not you get that benefit from any particular person.
It’s this very aspect of content marketing that makes it unacceptable to some business people. The thought of providing something valuable to “freeloaders” just drives them nuts.
I’ve been giving away free, valuable content for 19 years, and all eight successful businesses I’ve started were powered by it. I have complete faith that I’m going to get benefits back — and the know, like, and trust I earn is the entire reason.
Just the act of performing content marketing triggers the power of disinterested goodwill. Lacking that, there are techniques that persuaders use to achieve the same goal.
A classic persuasion technique is the “reluctant conclusion.” You share with your audience how you had a change of heart based on overwhelming evidence.
For example, you’ve recently raised the price of a product and discovered that it’s killing your sales. You could just quietly change the price back and hope no one notices, but you’ll build more trust and goodwill with your audience if you explain that you were wrong about the price raise and will be reverting it.
Meanwhile, you’ve also met your goal of sparking dormant sales. It’s a win-win-win when you count the additional trust that you’ve built with your audience for future products and promotions.
Another tactic is the “personal sacrifice” approach.
Yes, the free online workshop you’re doing could have been a paid product, but you’ve decided not to charge for it so you can help more people.
I’m sure you’ve seen this done many times before, with varying degrees of skill in the execution. The key to handling it well is, as always, to know your audience.
And finally there’s the “Abraham Lincoln” technique. Lincoln was an unusual-looking guy with a hick accent and a whiny voice. When he gave speeches during his run for president, he added fuel to his personal fire by claiming to be a poor public speaker with nothing new to say.