Have you been asked to write a brand agnostic white paper or article yet? If not, it’s likely you will, because a growing number of companies realize they cannot only produce self-focused content marketing — at least, not if they don’t want to turn off their prospects and customers.
The reason is that today’s customers don’t trust companies, according to numerous studies. In fact, they trust strangers more than they trust companies, according to a Forrester study.
Karen Oakland at the Left Brain DGA agency stated: “People think they can trust the opinions of others, even if they are strangers, more than they can trust a brand.”
Not only that, but Oakland said a study from the Journal of Consumer Research showed that “consumers are actually more likely to buy products when the marketing content includes some negative information. By combining positive information with negative, it accentuates the positive aspects of the message and builds trust.”
Although objectivity — also called being “brand agnostic” — is increasingly important in content marketing today, many writers don’t understand how to bring this quality to the content they write.
This lesson will illustrate how to write objective content that will help your clients build customer trust.
This lesson is from the upcoming Writer Skill Builder Workshop — where writers can learn 360 essential content marketing writing skills. This lesson is from the Workshop’s 30-day “Brand Journalism” series.
Write with Objectivity to Build Trust
One of the reasons that content marketing has been such a success is that it has adopted aspects of journalism, one of which is objectivity.
However, not all companies appreciate and embrace the concept yet. This is a huge mistake.
According to Tracy Parsons, Social Media Explorer Digital’s lead strategist: “The first rule of content marketing is you do not talk solely about yourself. The second rule of content marketing is you DO NOT talk solely about yourself.”
According to B2Bento.com, “In practice, there’s quite a bit more to it than simply leaving your brand or company out. Agnostic content isn’t just neutral content; it’s content that’s available anywhere, anytime, and talks about things that really help (the readers).”
Further, according to Forbes: “Though many will claim that a new generation could care less about objectivity, selling out on standards will create short-term gain at a more punishing long-term loss of trust.
“In today’s social businesses, trust is the new social currency. Without trust based on our actions, we destroy the basis for engagement and relationships. In fact the newness and pureness of social media is what draws users to engage.
“If marketers deafen the channel with the equivalent of ‘junk mail,’ spam, and telemarketing in the guise of content marketing, the recipients will hit another level of social overload and disengagement.”
An Objective Content Case Study
Often companies are embracing the concept of objectivity — often after experiencing the backlash of being too company-centric in their content marketing
For example, US Foods learned by making a mistake that it was all too easy to lose the trust of its core customers. The problem started with the company-owned magazine, Food Fanatics. The editors started a column called “Road Trip” to feature restaurants recommended by local chefs in specific locations. A problem began brewing when they only featured chefs who were US Food customers.
“The tight-knit community of chefs reading the magazine would instantly know that US Foods was cooking the story to suit its own ends,” stated Imagination Publishing, the company’s custom publisher. And this chipped away at the company’s credibility.
To solve the problem, the chefs featured in the column now are not necessarily US Food customers. What’s more, recipes may not always highlight the company’s products. And ads in the magazine are not always company-focused.
The result was impressive. “For customers, the magazine’s journalistic approach helped them view US Foods as a credible, trusted partner. Only by taking a customer-agnostic approach could it achieve the goal of credibility in the food industry.
How to Be More Objective
Here are a few tips to write more objectively provided by Imagination Publishing:
1. Don’t write with an ulterior motive.
The fastest way to destroy customers; trust is to overtly direct them to a company’s solution, or leave out salient information about alternatives.
So, don’t cram products and services down prospects’ throats. Instead, share relevant, useful (and yes, even negative) information with them.
2. Write about issues, not products.
Provide useful information that addresses basic problems. This will telegraph to readers that the business is responsive and empathetic — two traits that build brand loyalty.
It’s not that customers don’t need product specs and service plan details; they just need them later in the sales cycle.
3. Embrace reader feedback.
Many companies ignore comments that prospects and customers make on their blog and social media. But this insight could be a treasure trove of ideas on exactly what they are interested it. Letting this insight guide content development could be very powerful.
4. Add relevance by adding research.
Adding sources to content is one of the most powerful ways to build objectivity and credibility. So cite sources whenever possible.
5. The writer’s voice is familiar to the reader.
The writing style should be accessible and familiar to the target audience. In general, it should read more like a special interest magazine than a newspaper.
The more focused the niche, the easier it will be to maintain the company’s voice and help hook readers on the message.
Learn More About Writing Objective Content — and Other Transformational Writing Techniques
There is so much more to learn about the power of writing with objectivity in content marketing — as well as hundreds of other content marketing topics.
Are you ready to embark on your transformational journey to becoming a better writer?
If so, join other writers in the upcoming Writer Skill Builder Workshop. Get on the list – now!
This innovative workshop includes one lesson a day for a year — delivered directly to your email inbox. The lessons are a fun and informative deep dive into important writing skills. Combined they can take your career to a whole new level of success, income, and personal satisfaction.