For effective communication of your brand's message, gaining the trust of your audience is paramount to your success. To achieve this trust, it is crucial to understand two key points: your AUDIENCE and your PLATFORM. 

Understanding both sides of this conversation is imperative regardless of what industry you are in or who your audience is. These questions should be asked every time you develop a messaging strategy or launch a campaign. 

Having worked with hundreds of businesses through thousands of campaigns, we've witnessed the transformative power of these two understandings when combined effectively. In this article, we will delve into these critical questions to help you build trust with your audience and establish an effective online presence.

What Does it Mean to Establish Authority?

There's perhaps no more important ingredient in establishing trust with your audience than “establishing authority”. But what does that mean?

Often we think of authority from the view of having control over something or someone. In the world of marketing, we are specifically referring to the position a person or brand holds - due to the knowledge they’ve gained - through their experience in a certain topic, platform, or industry. 

When we say “establish authority”, that means your audience accepts the position you claim, for example, as an expert or industry leader. 

To establish authority, you must first understand your audience's needs, preferences, and pain points. Once you have that understanding, you can create high-quality, informative, and engaging content that addresses those concerns specifically. 

When sharing this content, there are so many outlets to choose from. There is email, SMS text, direct mail, FB groups, Threads, X, IG stories or reels, TV, Radio, Billboards, Press Releases, Snaps, YouTube shorts or long-form videos, TikTok, Twitch Stream (not a full list)… and there are constantly new “ingenious” platforms being devised. 

So…which platform should you use to reach your audience?

The short (and universal) answer is “whereever your audience spends their time”.

There are ‘4 Media Usages’ you want to understand:

  1. Communicating with friends and family
  2. News and information
  3. Work
  4. Entertainment

Understanding where your audience spends their time to satisfy each of the 4 Media Usages above will allow you to position yourself along their personal journey. 

Before you are able to gain that understanding, you will first need to understand who your audience is. 

Building Out Customer Personas

Understanding your audience is a cornerstone of success. It's not enough to simply rely on data sets - you need to go beyond the numbers and truly get to know your customers

That's where building out customer personas comes into play. These personas bring life to the data and help you create a more holistic picture of your target audience. Personas give names, faces, and stories to real people you are communicating with. 

Looking at your audience as people instead of a set of data points will enable you to empathize with your customers and tailor your communication strategy to address their specific needs and make meaningful connections. That personal connection is the bedrock of trust and loyalty in the digital age. 

Know Your Audience

To truly connect with your audience, you must have an in-depth understanding of who they are. Here are some key facets to consider when crafting these personas:

How old are they, where do they live, what is their family makeup / dynamic, what is their profession - and how do these things impact their interaction with: 

  • Brands like yours
  • Technology 
  • Family/community
  • Modern cultural trends

From there, understanding their habits around the 4 Media Usages:

- Communication with Friends and Family: What devices and platforms do they use, and how proficient are they with technology? What are their preferences, email, text, letters, etc.? 

- News Sources: Where do they turn to for news and information? Is it social media, traditional news outlets, or specialized websites?

- Entertainment Preferences: Where do they find their entertainment, whether it's broadcast, streaming services, YouTube, mobile apps, or live events? 

- Work: What is their digital interaction with their work? Are they in Slack and emails, live in spreadsheets, active on LinkedIn, Google apps - Mac or PC? or do they work mostly outside and away from computers?

Then work to understand their Environment/Headspace: What sort of environment or mental state are they in when they interact with your product or content? Are they coming to you in a high-pressure time of need (i.e. you're a tow truck company, and their tire has just gone flat)? Understanding their context is key.

All of these aspects are important pieces of the puzzle of truly understanding your audience's POV. 

Once you understand who your audience is, knowing where your audience is will become much clearer. You can then tailor your strategy to meet them where they already are. It's far easier and more natural to insert yourself into an active conversation than to draw a crowd over to something completely new.

Remember, building trust involves providing value, being consistent, and demonstrating authenticity.

Know Your Platform

So now you know where to reach your audience. The next step is to understand how to communicate on your chosen platform

Effective use of technology is critical to conveying your message successfully and building confidence that you know what you’re doing. Remember the saying, “How you do some things is how you do everything.” If you fumble your marketing - your audience will expect you to fumble your service as well.

Here are some essential considerations:

- Technology Proficiency: Now that you've identified the key technology that your customers use, you must show your audience that you can interact with them on their chosen devices. This will enable you to create relevant content and campaigns that are user-friendly and resonate with your audience. Avoid misusing a platform, such as trying to fit paragraphs on a billboard, sharing a long URL on a radio spot, or posting a QR code to social media.

- Platform Interaction: How do users interact with their technology? Whether it's through touch screens, voice commands, or traditional interfaces, it's crucial to adapt your types of content to the user’s experience. This is a way that you automatically show your customer base that you understand them. Trust is a delicate thing. If you stumble straight out of the gate, it can be very difficult to gain back your credibility.

By demonstrating a clear understanding of your platform, you convey that you respect your audience's preferences and habits. This can help you gain their trust, as they see that you value their experience and have invested time in tailoring your approach to their needs.

Gaining your audience's trust in the digital age is not ONLY about having a great product or service. It's also about understanding your audience and the platforms you use to engage with them so that they feel comfortable building meaningful relationships with you. 

By developing detailed personas, addressing their specific needs, and adapting your content to their technology preferences, you can build a strong foundation of trust and credibility.

Remember, trust is hard to earn but easy to lose, so consistently delivering on your promises and maintaining authenticity is crucial in the marketing landscape. 

Your audience's trust is the key to your success in the long run.