The worst person at the party is the guy who talks only about himself. The guy who wants you to know how great he is. We roll our eyes at that guy. We walk away from that guy. And yet, that’s how a lot of brands still market themselves – by touting how awesome they are. Once upon a time, the audience was captive, but now they have options. It means that you must build credibility and trust before you can make the sale. So it’s time to put the self-promotion on ice.

A new study makes it clear that being self-promotional in any way has a negative impact on the relationship between brand and customer. Self-promotion turns off the audience and makes them doubt your sincerity. A new consumer study by Kentico Software shows that 74% of the general public trusts educational content from businesses on a particular topic. However, even a simple product pitch at the end of an otherwise objective piece of content “will bring the content’s credibility level down by 29%,” reports Kentico.

In other words, you had their ear, and then you went and ruined it by yapping at them to buy something. You gotta chill. Get some Zen.

The job of content is to build trust with the audience.

Ultimately, yes, it should engage the audience and lead to a sale. However, the marketing team cannot rush the sale, because the customers don’t want to be rushed. The new Buyer’s Journey is conducted at the pace the buyer chooses. If you try to speed that up, you lose.

Instead, marketers must focus on help, not hype. The goal of content marketing is to create a bond built on trust, which requires delivering value to the audience. The Kentico survey makes it clear that the audience is willing to listen to and believe what brands tell them, as long as they don’t feel they’re being sold to and as long as there is a certain level of transparency.

Another important note alluded to in the Kentico survey is the value of shareworthy content. Sixty-nine percent of respondents said content is more credible when it comes from someone they know. To us at Scribewise, that equates to high quality content rather than keyword-stuffed content built specifically to drive SEO. (And, per this report and per our approach, I’m not writing that to be salesy; it’s what we believe is best for brands – if you disagree, please chime in). High quality content – well written, timely and relevant, transparent and objective – has a much higher chance of being shared, and therefore creating more connections.

Doing this and staying true to the audience imperative is not easy to do. Most marketers have been trained to include sales messages in content. There is often internal pressure to make the pitch at the end of a great story. However, we must break ourselves of that old muscle memory. This study verifies what a lot of content marketers believe – that the surest way to diminish your sales is to keep telling the prospect that you’re selling her something.