Home » OPINION » Columns » TODD SMITH — Building trust with your audiences is key for your brand

TODD SMITH — Building trust with your audiences is key for your brand



In a digital age where we all serve as editors and writers of content for our audiences, it is now more important that ever to cultivate trust in building your brand.

Writers these days don’t follow basic standards in attribution, which is one of the golden rules in journalism, PR, marketing and advertising.

There’s also a general distrust among readers. Journalists’ credibility is at a low. Marketers’ credibility is even lower. And, most people dislike being sold to at every turn.

Here are some tips on building trust with your audience:

1. Make it useful.

Serve your audience first, and your business goals second. I know that’s hard to follow when you’ve got quarterly business goals, but there is no better way to build trust and hold people’s attention. Content marketing is not advertising. Simple as that.

2. Back up what you say.

So much of online content is based on people’s opinions. Opinions are great, but unless you’re marketing on the force of your personality, you’re going to need some backup.

» Got a fact or statistic you want to share? Terrific – cite the original source. Don’t just cite the article you first saw the statistic in. Keep digging until you find the original source. Verify it, and link back to the original source.

» Use examples. They’ll prove your point. People love examples because they clarify what you’ve been talking about. They’re concrete. Even better, people remember examples.

3. Include both sides of the argument or perspective.

Think there’s only one right way to do something? That’s fine, but mention the other ways it can be done. Explain why they’re not as effective. You’ll be more convincing than just pretending they don’t exist.

Showing alternatives also demonstrates your expertise. It adds a depth of understanding for the reader. You’re giving them enough information to help them be experts, too. That’s something almost everyone wants.

Including other people’s opinions can also help build trust, too. Even if you don’t 100 percent agree with them, mentioning other authorities lends credibility to your content. It shows you’re aware of what’s going on in your niche. It also puts you on equal footing with the experts you recommend. Their authority resonates with you and your writing.

4. Sound professional.

Spelling and usage errors are easy to make, but these little mistakes have big consequences. They do terrible damage to people’s trust in your content.

It’s amazing (and sad), but one misspelled word can damage a publication’s credibility with some readers for years.

5. Have an attractive, functional website.

A website should showcase its content and purpose so well that the site design and function are almost invisible. This is really important.

A site’s design may actually affect people’s trust more than the content. That’s what’s suggested by a study from Stanford. In the study, 2684 people evaluated two websites for their credibility. More than any other factor, the sites’ design was the feature reviewers considered most important in evaluating which site was most trustworthy.

6. If you aren’t using email marketing yet, do it.

Ever heard how “the medium is the message”? Well, trust comes into play with that idea, too. In two different studies, email marketing get high marks.

The first is from Nielsen. Another is from the Acquity Group. Email does well in both studies. This is good news for small businesses.  According the WASP Barcode 2016 Small Business report, 51 percent of small businesses are using email marketing. Email is a smart move for a number of reasons – email’s trustworthiness is one of its best virtues.

Snapchat ad revenue to soar to nearly $1 billion in 2017

A new report out this morning from analysts at eMarketer is forecasting explosive growth for Snapchat’s ad revenue by next year. The firm estimates the mobile social application will generate $366.69 million in 2016, but that figure will grow to $935.46 million by 2017 – a jump it attributes to Snapchat’s ability to reach younger millennials, a wider ad portfolio, and ad targeting improvements.

The $366.69 million in 2016 is a bit higher than the internal goals Snapchat had reportedly set for itself this year, according to a report from Recode this spring. Sources told Recode that Snapchat was targeting between $300 million and $350 million in revenue this year, up 6 to 7 times from the $50 million it projected last year.

The $1 billion estimate, meanwhile, lines up with details found in Snapchat’s leaked presentation deck, which predicted revenues between $500 million and as much as $1 billion for 2017.

Snapchat has grown its ad business significantly this year, with new products like Snapchat Partners, its advertising API, which allowed Snapchat ads to be sold by third parties. eMarketer also cited a broader portfolio with a wider array of video ads, as well as more sponsored geofilters and sponsored lenses.

Today, Snapchat has a 31.6 percent share of social networking users in the U.S., but only 2.3 percent of the social network ad dollars given that its ad platform only launched in mid-2015.

The challenge for Snapchat now is to convince advertisers it can offer a better return on investment than other networks.

Golden Mic | Howard Butt Jr. took grocery, Christianity to new levels!

Talk about feeding the masses!

Howard E. Butt Jr., eldest son of H-E-B founder and philanthropist Howard E. Butt, former president of the H. E. Butt Family Foundation and vice chairman of H-E-B’s board took the grocery business and Christianity to exciting new levels – and he served as a lifelong fountain of inspiration for The Spin Cycle!

Butt died on Sept. 11 from complications related to Parkinson’s disease. He was 89.

A native of Kerrville, Texas, Butt grew up in his family’s food business and attended Baylor University. After graduating in 1947 with a business degree, he married his longtime sweetheart, Barbara Dan Gerber, then dove into the grocery business with a heart for God and a vision for spreading the good news across the Lone Star State and throughout the world!

As president of the H. E. Butt Foundation, one of his most renowned roles, Butt greatly expanded upon the vision of his parents, who created the charity. Established in 1933 as one of the earliest private Texas foundations, it has several programs, including free outdoor camping facilities for underprivileged children on 1,900 acres of land in the Texas Hill Country. After taking over the foundation in 1982, he grew the program to serve more than 20,000 campers each year.

A deeply religious man, Butt pursued a number of spiritual endeavors, including the creation of the Layman’s Leadership Institute in conjunction with evangelist Billy Graham, which hosted national faith-based programs for business professionals, and the Laity Lodge Retreat Center, which brought together internationally renowned authors, professors, theologians and others to speak on faith. He also hosted the national radio broadcast, “The High Calling,” which discussed spirituality in life and work, and authored several books on faith and leadership. His work received recognition from several U.S. presidents, including President John F. Kennedy, who appointed him to the first Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower who invited him to address one of the first National Prayer Breakfasts.

Butt’s life work was feeding the masses, both physically and spiritually, and his legacy of Christian faith for all will burn brightly into the future.

God’s got a new grocer inside the Pearly Gates, and there may be a new camp or two springing up in paradise. For that, and so much more, Butt takes the Golden Mic.

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.


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