Use Third-Party Content to Boost Credibility

When marketing any type of products and services, your customers trust third-party content more than they trust data provided by your company. They want information that they consider to be credible and objective.

While this is something we may intuitively understand, new data from inPowered and Nielsen confirms it.

According to the study, consumers rely on third-party content (surveys, product reviews, other data) more than branded content or even user reviews when making purchase decisions. In fact, the study showed that expert content was the only content type to exhibit a strong lift in all three areas of the purchase cycle.

On average, expert content . . .

  • lifted brand familiarity 88% more than branded content and 50% more than user reviews;
  • lifted brand affinity 50% more than branded content and 20% more than user reviews; and
  • lifted purchase intent 38% more than branded content and 83% more than user reviews.

How do you benefit from expert third-party content for your products and services?

Add expert reviews to your marketing and public relations “to do” list. Once you have this content, add the most compelling snippets to your print marketing materials. Reprint them on your website. Link to them in your emails. Use QR Codes to point to them on your product packaging. You might also want to print some of this content in your in-house newsletters so your sales and customer service teams can tap into it when talking to customers.

It’s great when you, your customers, and your employees can rave about your products and services. But when experts do it, it’s even better!

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3 Steps to Staying Sane Waiting for Design

Once you have agreed on a design concept, it’s time for your designer to sit down and plan the work. This entails thinking about what grids, master pages, style sheets, fonts, and image files are required to produce the finished file. If your designer can move from artistic design to engineered production within your schedule, that’s ideal, but it doesn’t always happen. In the meantime, the waiting process can be hard.

Here are a few ideas for helping you stay patient (and sane) as you are waiting for final design.

1. Expect the unexpected.

Plans are perfect only until the work begins. Designers will inevitably miss something. That is not only okay, it is expected. Don’t get upset when it happens.

2. Pad your timeline.

The unforeseen will always occur. Make sure to pad your timeline to account for it. Once you create a timeline for the project, pad it by 1.5 to 3 times. When the project is finished, do a post mortem and assess how close your estimates were. If necessary, add a larger fudge factor next time.

3. Communicate often.

Regularly ask the designer questions like, “How is the work going? Do you need anything?” This will keep you appraised of the situation and let your designer know that you care about the challenges he or she is experiencing. (Ask—don’t pester!)

Remember that you aren’t the only one waiting. Other stakeholders can get anxious, too. That creates pressure on everyone. Send e-mails to different stakeholders in the company (marketing, product development, executive team) updating them on your progress. Keeping people in the loop tends to ease pressure, even if the schedule is running behind.

Next time the files go to design, don’t fret about how long the process will take. Expect delays, pad the timeline, and communicate with all of the stakeholders regularly. You might be surprised how much more smoother the process seems, even if nothing actually changes in the world of design!

Position Yourself as an Expert

No matter what business you’re in, you are the expert in something. Establishing yourself as an authority gives you a coveted status that places you head and shoulders above your competition. It also builds loyalty with your client base and generates interest from prospects. But how do you establish expert status? Here are a few ideas.

Believe you are an expert, then claim it. You don’t have to have all of the answers to be an expert. No one does. So claim your status and give yourself a title such as process specialist, systems consultant, or subject matter expert.

Narrow your focus to a specific industry, demographic or topic. For example, instead of promoting yourself as a general marketing guru, focus on a specific market segment, such as the manufacturing industry or technology users.

Develop a press kit. A two-pocket folder can work wonders. Insert a letter describing your role as a media contact or guest speaker. Include your biography and a fact sheet tailored to showcase your knowledge. Keep sales literature to a minimum here. Establish yourself as a serious, credible authority, not as a peddler of a particular product or service.

Establish credibility with print. People believe what they read. Showcase your expertise with newsletters, white papers, and special reports. Educate, don’t sell. Send kits to media outlets and industry publications so you are top of mind when they are doing coverage in your area of expertise.

Join the speaker’s circuit. Give lectures, host seminars, hold workshops, or teach a class. Start local, then look for regional and national opportunities. Host a session at the annual meeting of your trade association.

Host a blog. Most experts have blogs these days. Blogs also give you entry into the world of social media and boost your SEO.

There is work involved in expert positioning, but it can be a powerful element of a comprehensive marketing and strategic communications plan. Expert status also gives you a unique selling proposition, a reason for customers to choose your company over your competitor.