Be Present, Be Constant

September 12, 2017

What do Rolex, Lego and the Walt Disney Company have in common?

Little, perhaps, except that they all enjoy the confidence of a large proportion of the global population. The trio of giants topped the Reputation Institute’s 2017 list of the world’s most trusted brands.

There is much to analyze on the list, but for me one headline finding stood out: “Companies that are more open, more genuine and communicate more often have far stronger reputations,” the Institute noted.

This dovetails with our own experience at LinkedIn. We see the greatest cumulative return on investment among those brands that maintain a constant presence on the platform.

Among them are brands such as JP Morgan Chase. By communicating consistently, reaching clients with constant, valuable content, the brand has accumulated a huge band of followers.

AIG, American Express, BlackRock and Bank of New York Mellon are among other US financial brands that have committed to this kind of ‘always-on’ strategy. HSBC in Europe and NAB in Australia are equally consistent. Outside finance, Bloomberg, EY, Salesforce, Intel, and IBM also invest in a perpetual LinkedIn presence.

The prize is a desirable one: 88% of the marketing qualified leads LinkedIn generated in 2015 were from always-on channels.

Short-circuit the buyer journey

Brands that invest in establishing a bond in this way are better equipped to break in to a customer journey that’s increasingly customer-controlled.

Consumers hold the upper hand in the digital world, wielding their ability to compare brand offerings and instantly share experiences of customer service.

So the way we buy has changed: only 25% of consumers now reveal themselves to vendors immediately, with most doing so only after drawing up a shortlist of solutions. That leaves vendors less time to influence buying decisions.

Having built familiarity and demonstrated the values they share with customers, brands that enjoy a strong relationship with their audience are able to short-circuit this buyer journey.

Stay true in a crisis

An always-on strategy means that when a crisis strikes – whether that’s a consumer’s personal emergency, or a threat to the brand reputation – the groundwork of the relationship provides a platform for recovery.

Some businesses, such as investment platform Betterment, devote much of their content strategy to preparing for crisis. The company has studied behavioral economics to educate customers and prepare them for situations such as a drop in the market.

When something does go wrong, says Elyssa Gray, VP of Brand at Betterment, it’s important to stay true to brand values and behaviors. “If you start switching gears radically, rather than being very purposeful, it’s very jarring,” she says. “Erratic behavior is not going to build trust: trust comes from consistency.”

Laying the foundations of that trust pays dividends. It requires a brand to commit to activity that goes beyond traditional campaigns – establishing itself as a constant and dependable presence in people’s lives.

For more insights on how to foster trust with your customers and prospects, subscribe to the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions blog.