C’mon. You know it. You’ve heard it. You’ve snickered at it, maybe even blushed. If you take pride in your job, you’ve even taken umbrage at it. And for technical marketing, it’s bandied about even more freely.
You’ve got it. “Lies.” The dirty word.
“Marketing is a lie.” “Marketing lies to you.”
Say it however you like. You can use a ten-dollar world like “manipulate” or try to dress it up to “persuade.” But like it or not, distrust is the underlying objection to marketing in general and technical content marketing in particular.
With public trust in social media content and journalism content at an all-time low, it’s not surprising that the perception of business trustworthiness by consumers is dropping. Add to this the fact that technical content marketing is trying to reach a skeptical technical audience, well, this lack of trust seems insurmountable.
Say It Isn’t So
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. Our intention as marketing professionals is to help make customers aware of a product/solution fit. We can alert an audience without alienating them. But to be trusted, our content has to be trustworthy. With technical content, that bar is even higher because it also has to be technically trustworthy.
Building trust digitally has inherent challenges. You can’t clarify your intent or answer audience questions or concerns in real time. So when you present your content, you have to realize that these objections will be barriers to trust if left unanticipated.
Tell the truth
It’s really that simple. At every digital touchpoint, tell the truth. If you tell someone they will receive something by clicking on a link, make sure they get the “something” you promised. If you are going to use their information for your sales team, ask them for permission and tell them what use that permission grants you.
Your audience can accept that they may have to give something to get something. Transparency at every step of engaging with the audience will build their trust.
Offer something of value
For a customer to part with something they value, like their contact information, they need to believe that they will receive something of value in return. For a technical audience, this is technical content. It should be interesting, it should be something they can’t get anywhere else, it should be credible, and it should be accurate.
And therein lies the rub with technical content. Satisfying all criteria is difficult, particularly if you are using writers who lack technical expertise. Even if you have a product engineer offering to write for you, it’s likely they are so closely associated with the product that they might seem more like a marketing expert and less like a technical authority to the incredulous technical audience.
Peer-to-Peer Technical Content Marketing
Peer-to-peer technical content marketing can be the answer to addressing the content value proposition. Why? A peer writer is by definition a subject matter expert and is close to the customer — at least closer than you or your company seem to be.
Pick a peer outside your organization. Better yet, tap into a network of peers, and you are more likely to fulfill the technical quality, interest and integrity expectations of your somewhat cynical audience.
Once you start being transparent in all things, stick with it. Always communicate clearly about your goal, about what you are offering, and about what you are asking in return. No last-minute infowall or paywall. No unsolicited calls or emails. Instead, deliver enthralling, quality, technical information every time they click.
Protect your audience
Don’t sell your prospect’s data. Keep it safe. Comply with CASL and GDPR, use data storage security best practices, and use data the way your visitors intended it to be used. These practices all go a long way to building a trusted digital relationship.
That’s a Wrap
Everything from digital storage to digital content is challenging consumer trust in their online information relationships. Technical content marketing was always hard to trust, and as trust in digital media drops, it’s now even harder to earn trust. Transparency, peer-to-peer technical content, and good data storage practices won’t end the trust problem, but they go a long way to overcoming it.
Remember, done right, “marketing” doesn’t have to be another dirty word.