Consumers have to deal with so much advertising daily that they are very particular about the ones they listen to. Thanks to the sheer volume of marketing efforts, buyers have become clued-in to what inauthentic marketing looks like. Consumers treat businesses that try to perform inauthentic marketing with disdain, and modern cancel-culture can lead to massive PR disasters.
If you want to connect with your clients, you need to do it in a way that resonates with them authentically. Below, 12 members of Forbes Agency Council share several critical tips to help businesses be more genuine in their marketing endeavors.
1. Make Your Customer The Superhero
If you make your product or people the superhero, you’re putting your brand above your customer and looking down at them. This positioning makes you appear inauthentic and untrustworthy. In your marketing, the superhero is always your customer. Your product or service is the tool that enables them to achieve the superior results they’re seeking. – Douglas Karr, Highbridge
2. Understand Your Brand Promise
Businesses should first of all understand their brand promise. What is it that their consumers expect of them? What is their core philosophy? What is the brand’s DNA — not its ideal, but the truth of its culture and impact? Once that is known, any message that strays from that brand promise will be inauthentic. – Stefan Pollack, The Pollack Group
3. Project What Your Brand Stands For
Every clever marketing campaign should project the heart of the brand and what it stands for. All marketing projects must be consistent in messaging to truly connect with the consumer and showcase the values of the brand, ensuring authenticity. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC
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4. Develop A Brand Style Guide Early On
Branding is storytelling, and authenticity and consistency are key. Developing a brand bible and style guide early is a helpful tool to crystallize your story. You should include elements like positioning, mission, pillars, dos/don’ts, visual identity, etc. These will serve as a North Star internally and will also enable partners, agencies and other extensions of your team to know your story. – Marc Becker, The Tangent Agency
5. Gather As Much Feedback As Possible
What you think customers want and what customers actually want are not always the same. Gather as much customer feedback and engagement metrics as possible to learn how they talk about your product/service and what they want or need from it. Use that information to build a marketing strategy and you will be sure to resonate with your target audience in an authentic way. – Donna Robinson, Collective Measures
6. Focus On Providing Value And Educating
The single best way to have authentic marketing is to give value first. Instead of always trying to sell, sell, sell, make sure you take the time to educate. We pride ourselves on our blog, training and learning hub. We give access to all of them for free because we believe in value first. If we can get our customers to trust us, then the selling will come even easier later in the funnel. – Marc Hardgrove, The HOTH
7. Feature Your Subject-Matter Experts
People trust people, not brands. It’s important to look for ways to feature the subject-matter experts behind your company because it’s easier for someone to connect with a person than a brand. People want to buy from people they trust, and learning about your founders’ stories, values and experience can help build that trust. – Kelsey Raymond, Influence & Co.
8. Have A Story With A Human Touch
Make sure your brand has a story with a human touch. Showing why customers need your product or service is not enough, you have to connect with them on a deeper level — and that’s where storytelling comes in. What’s the story behind the brand? Why does it exist? When your brand has a proper story behind it, you’ll win the loyalty of consumers and that’s priceless. – Randy Soderman, Soderman SEO
9. Focus On Product Benefits, Not Features
Authentic marketing always focuses on product benefits, not product features. To ensure authenticity, first understand how your product makes the customer’s life better, easier or more enjoyable; i.e., the product benefits. Then ensure that marketing content focuses on telling that product benefit story. This approach helps your marketing content resonate and keeps it authentic. – Aliza Freud, SheSpeaks, Inc.
10. Keep Your Message And Tone Consistent
Keep your message and tone consistent. If you’re clever, be clever. If you’re snarky, be snarky. It’s the inconsistency of this tone that can sound fake. If the written content on your site is a bit casual and loose, but the videos on your site are overly “corporate,” your brand will reek of inauthenticity. Clever and catchy are OK, but don’t do it halfway. – Bernard May, National Positions
11. Always Test Before Launch
Even the best creative can have a blind spot, so it’s critical to test before launch. Test it! Too often, campaigns come out without input from a variety of demographics. If you want to be authentic, you must first test it with your internal team and collect feedback based on how it makes them feel and how they expect the outside world will react. – Kathleen Lucente, Red Fan Communications
12. Don’t Be Afraid To Be Vulnerable
Be vulnerable. Nobody’s perfect, so if your marketing suggests that you are, it will always come off as inauthentic. I saw a restaurant that advertised that its rooftop bar was “well worth the three flights of stairs.” That’s clever and self-deprecating in a way that resonates with consumers. – Scott Baradell, Idea Grove
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Author: Expert Panel®, Forbes Councils Member