The verdict is in: Generic and dishonest marketing tactics are turning savvy buyers toward companies spreading an individualized message with an honest, human element. “People trust other people not brands,” says Kelsey Meyer, President of Influence & Co., “for this reason it’s important to be open and transparent in your messaging to show the human side of your business.”
Past practices and generational differences perpetuate the shift.
If consumers’ brains could talk while filtering through the messages of advertisers you might hear, “I don’t have to listen if I don’t want to and I don’t believe you anyway.” Advertisers now only have seconds to initiate a relationship.
The average person is assaulted with a barrage of 577 new marketing messages per week. Generation X and Millennials have sifted through marketing messaging at this rate every day of their lives. As these generations move into buying power they are skeptical at best. As a Generation X-er I’ve grown up with remote controls and the internet, conveniences that have fortified my instinct to ignore and discount advertisements. Because the messages I hear 577 times a week don’t apply to me as a person in the moment I’m in. The advertisements lack the ability to connect, trust and be human.
“People are portals to your content. Too many brands mistake their brand for being a logo or their website color, font or design. Your brand = your people,” explains Sarah Hill of Veterans United Home Loans.
The people Sarah’s talking about aren’t just those within your company, it’s mainly the people you serve. The most important rule of honest marketing is putting your target market front and center. The message should speak to your audience about what they care about, in a language they understand. Sarah suggests, “If you know your audience, you should talk like your audience. If your demographic is using words like “Bae” and “Fleek”, your social media posts should be in that voice. If you have no idea what those words mean but your audience does, you might want to spend some time with your target demographic to better understand their swagger.”
Your campaign goals aren’t about padding your bottom line or inflating your ego. Those are the outcomes of a successful campaign. Answer every question you’ve ever heard from your customers with complete transparency and no agenda. This may even mean reviewing competitors’ products or sharing your pricing and salary structure.
“Transparency can mean talking through the struggles your company has had or to giving away some of your trade secrets, this helps your audience connect with you on a more human level which leads to stronger, longer relationships,” shares Kelsey.
“A Cornell study says eye contact increases brand trust by 16%. If you’re in the customer service business, which what company isn’t, eye contact reduces hostilities. Being human is allowing customers to look in the whites of your eyes. Embrace opportunities to have eye contact with your customers and key influencers,” suggests Sarah.
As a national company Veterans United Home Loans can’t shake everyone’s hand or make eye contact in person so Sarah embraces new technology such as Google Hangouts and WebRTC to make connections with people from afar.
Landmark Bank puts this idea into action with their “I’m a Landmark” campaign. “Testimonial advertising is one of the most powerful approaches, but you have to have satisfied customers to do it well,” explains Charlie Williamson, Senior Vice President of Landmark Bank. “The ‘I’m a Landmark’ campaign is all about our customer’s experience. It’s about results.”
Client endorsements of a company are a powerful thing. Spreading their message via satisfied customers has paid the bank back in spades, “It’s done a great job of positioning the Landmark brand in the community. Many of us have had the experience of paying for a meal and having the waiter say “I’m a Landmark” when he saw the debit card,” says Charlie.
People trust real people, not the glowing, perfect-skinned, stock photo folks. Sarah puts it best, “Use real people in your messaging or real employees. Quit hiding behind your logo and start interacting with your following on a deeper level than a text based social media post.”