For brands, just as for anyone in the media spotlight, PR white lies and social media slip ups are pretty much impossible to hide from the consumer. Due to the rise in observant consumers and mysterious algorithms, brands have no option but to be completely transparent and honest in the way they communicate with their audience. Having this authentic approach to communicating with your customers is no longer optional.
Consumer behaviour has changed, and now traditional marketing techniques are no longer adequate. Millennials, who are quickly becoming the most powerful and influential consumer sector, don’t react to these traditional ‘frilly’ techniques. They want the real story and that’s what smart brands are giving to them.
‘Authentic businesses inspire and prosper.’ Neil Patel
How does this affect real-world marketing goals?
Of course, this poses a great challenge for marketers… they must achieve their goals whilst ensuring the messages they publicise are both genuine and align with their brand ethos. Ironically, marketing isn’t really very authentic. It’s a competition whereby brands work to showcase their products or services in the most appealing, attractive and tempting light possible, whilst treading a thin wire not to negatively portray their competitors.
One positive that comes out of all of this is that if you embrace authenticity, your customers will do the rest for you. Instead of having eagle-eyed customers that watch your every move and try to catch you out, you will have customers that love being a part of your journey and respect your business as much as you respect them. It works both ways.
'91% of customers value honesty when deciding who to buy products from.' Bonfire Marketing
Remember that honesty is always the best policy.
How to be authentic.
Know who you are and preach it.
Often brands make the mistake of not being consistent in their offline and online persona which puts them straight in the customer’s bad books. For instance, don’t portray yourself as an eco-friendly, sustainable brand if, in your stores, you use plastic gift wrapping, carrier bags and all of your staff are drinking from one-use water bottles. It’s not going to go down well and quite frankly; you’re not being true to yourself.
Giving mixed messages leads to suspicion and once your customers are suspicious, you’ll need to do a lot of work to regain their trust. So just be honest and display this honesty in all of your communication. If you’re always being 100% honest and authentic, consistency will never be an issue.
Keep your customers in the know.
Don’t be afraid to tell your customers you’re improving one of your not so great products, or that you made a mistake in your recent email newsletter. When they feel like they are involved with your business, they will definitely be more forgiving of any slight hiccups they may experience along the way. They want to know you’re human, and humans definitely make mistakes.
The bottom line.
Authenticity is a quality no brand can afford to ignore. Being an authentic brand will come with great rewards such as:
- Consumer loyalty
- Brand ambassadors and fans
- Increased organic reach
- Boosted sales
And... you will feel great about your brand!
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