Can Marketing Theory be Used to Create and Spread Employee Trust?

May 15, 2019

For the duration of my marketing career, I've worked on digital marketing teams, creating and distributing promotional and educational content to a global audience. My focus has always been on digital channels such as social media, website content, email marketing, ebooks, infographics and anything else I could get my hands on.


The strategy used to carry out these marketing activities is called The Inbound Marketing Strategy.




Now you might be thinking "what has marketing theory have to do with any aspect of my employee management" and my answer would be, more than you might expect.

If you'd like an inbound strategy developed for your business, contact me at ruairi@odomarketing.com

The fundamental premise of marketing is communication i.e. how do we communicate to a specific audience about a specific subject, and the ultimate goal of a marketing strategy is to convince someone to carry out an action that will benefit the business in some form or fashion. This action is almost always based on the consumer trusting the business to be one of quality that will be there to satisfy their needs and wants.


Now imagine this; you are the business, your employee is the consumer and you must use a specific strategy to ensure you get through to them and get the desired outcome you seek. In this case, developing trust. 


Both marketing and management require communication, both involve eliciting a certain response from a specific audience and both will benefit both parties involved, so the application of marketing theory might not be such a far-fetched idea.


What is inbound marketing?


Inbound marketing is a strategy comprised of 4 distinct steps:

  1. Attract

  2. Convert

  3. Close

  4. Delight

This 4 step strategy can be adopted and used in a management context with some slight alterations. 

  1. Attract with openness

  2. Convert with high quality information

  3. Close with consistency

  4. Delight to spread word

Attract with openness

In the Attract stage of the marketing strategy of inbound, the goal is to attract potential consumers to your business through the provision of useful information. For example, an online article such as the one you're reading. It provides useful information to the reader about a specific topic and lets them know this company is there to provide information about topics the consumer might need help with, but how can we transform this as the first step to developing employee trust?


I would suggest we look at your initiation as a manager on this one. Try to identify what would attract an employee to come to you and seek information/advice/help? For me, this would be a simple communication to the employees at the beginning of their tenure that the lines of communication are open, and you are willing to help any employee out on various aspects of their career. Simply let them know you're there for them and are willing to help with any issues they may have.




After this initial message has been passed on, don't be afraid to approach employees individually on a daily basis and ask how they are and if they need help with anything.


So our main take-away from the first step in this process is to show that you are open and willing to communicate with your employees. Let them know you're there and keep reminding them of this fact. 


Convert with quality

The second step is to convert. In a marketing context, this would mean to convert members of the target audience into leads. This is done by the provision of quality content to the audience member so they hand over their details (usually email address). The idea behind capturing this persons details is so they can be reached regularly.


The usual method of contact here is email, which has been shown to have a 400% ROI. When a business builds a relationship with a lead through regular communication, trust is built and the lead becomes a regular visitor to the business' online channels.




For you as a manager, think of this as the information you're feeding your employees. Is the information of a high standard? Are you well-researched in the topics you're speaking about? Have you thought deeply about what you're speaking about and are you conveying this information in a way the employee can understand? This would stem back to your education on management both from an academic and a practical standpoint which will help you to create quality opinions and provide quality advice that the employee will see benefit from and as a result, value you as a manager.


If the employee sees you as a manager of high quality, they will come back to you over and over again assuming you continue to provide them with high quality information.


Take-away number two is to provide high quality information that will encourage the employee to come back to you for advice when he/she needs it.


Close with consistency

Our third step is to close. A business has, at this stage, attracted the audience member to their firm and provided them with quality information the potential consumer has enjoyed and found useful. Now, the challenge is to be consistent and provide constant quality information over time so that the consumer fully trusts the business and will become a customer. This is simply a continuation of step two.


As a manager, you have communicated your willingness to help employees, have provided some quality information, but that doesn't mean your employee fully trusts you....yet. Trust is built over time, and the only way you can get to this stage with your employee is to be consistent. Ensure you're there for your employee when they need you. When they have a query, answer them thoughtfully and to the best of your ability.




Every interaction you have with your employees is important, so try to make every communication you have as positive as possible and ensure you're providing some sort of value over time. As time goes on, the employee will trust you as a manager more and more.


So our third take-away is to be consistent. Ensure you are providing quality information as consistently as possible and over time, this will lead to a trusting relationship between you and your employee.


Delight to spread the word

Finally, a company must delight its customers into ones which will spread word of the great work the business is doing to their friends, colleagues, families and even strangers. If a customer has been provided with a consistent amount of high quality information, they will share this with the relevant people in their life and speak positively of the business, encouraging more people to visit and become paying customers.


As a manager, if you are providing consistent quality information to your employees, they will speak highly of you to other employees they work with, and probably people they don't work with. This may encourage more employees to approach you and look for help, and thus starting the process again, providing quality information on a consistent basis the employee will find value in and benefit from and as a result, build a trusting relationship. It's important to understand that once you've created this trusting relationship with your employee that you maintain it. Continue to act as you had previously, cognisant of the fact that trust is a fragile thing which must be maintained.



Our fourth take away is based around the understanding that even when trust is developed, we must continue to provide consistently high quality mentoring which our employees will eventually speak of to their peers, which will hopefully lead to even more trusting relationships.


I hope I've conveyed to you how you can use marketing theory to develop trusting relationships with our employees. Marketing is essentially a process of trust building through communication, and there's a lot business owners/managers can learn from this concept.


Communication will always be a key aspect of how we perform and interact with our teams and employees, and there's no harm in abiding to the rough roadmap of:


  1. Attracting with openness

  2. Converting with high quality information

  3. Closing with consistency

  4. Delighting to spread the word

If you'd like an inbound strategy developed for your business, contact me at ruairi@odomarketing.com

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