Authentic Marketing: How to Start Thinking Like Your Customers
Fact: every piece of content you write for your business has a motive. Whether it’s a helpful tip blog, a happy customer case study, or a press release, you’re seeking some sort of result. But while all this content may revolve around you and what you do, it’s your customer you should be thinking about. The authentic marketer aims to inform, entertain, and help people with their message. And when you’ve nailed that, the result you seek is an inevitable consequence.
Today, brand transparency and trust are more important than ever. Here are some tips on how to start thinking like your customers and make authentic marketing part of your story.
What’s Authentic Marketing?
Being authentic means being true to who you are as a brand. But it also means finding a voice that resonates most with the people you’re speaking to. Today’s consumer is seeking brands that personify beliefs similar to their own. This practice of “buying what a brand values” was largely coined by millennials, but it’s now a sweeping consumer mentality across all demographics thanks to a lot more options — and platforms — than ever before. With inboxes full of promotional emails you may or may not have subscribed to and newsfeeds crowded with ads for an item you showed interest in once, an emotional trigger will be the reason someone stops scrolling and makes a connection.
The good news is that marketers are in the same boat in figuring out how to reach our audiences with the ultimate goal of creating customer loyalty. The bad news is that that means simply doing what works for your competitors can really backfire if that’s all you’re doing. Because as soon as your audience sees the same marketing approach from different brands, they start to become completely unaffected by it. So much for standing out.
The challenge for you is finding those common values and conveying them in a way that feels personal and real. But those same consumers that want originality are also very keen on identifying and calling out when a brand is not being true to itself. And the only thing worse than speaking a language that doesn’t resonate with your audience is having them realize you’re not practicing what you preach. And they always will.
Are You Authentic?
If you’re struggling with this question, here are some other questions you can ask yourself:
- Can my consumers noticeably see that we are trying to sell them something?
- Are we taking a sales-oriented approach versus a customer-driven approach?
- Are we pushing products or services over building customer trust?
- Are our values unclear in our messaging?
If you answered “yes” — or “not sure”— to most of those questions, then keep reading.
How to Be More Authentic in Your Marketing
One word: research. Back in the day, content marketing was anything but authentic. It was an all-out race for marketers to publish as many keyword-loaded pages as possible. But your consumers aren’t the only ones who got smarter — Google did too. So now, authenticity is actually judged in more ways than one, which means what resonates and what ranks go hand-in-hand in a successful marketing strategy. And like everything in marketing, it requires research and understanding.
So what does that look like? Well, you started your business for a reason, and just because you’re getting paid to offer a service, doesn’t mean your solution is any less authentic. The key is recognizing what problem you solve for them. Your value proposition is driven by a goal to alleviate the real frustrations and inconveniences that your customers feel without your product/service. This is the foundation of your connection.
Now, you’re one step closer to developing your brand voice, but first, you have to really know the voice of your customers. And the best way to do that is by asking them directly. Voice-of-Customer Research — or the process of discovering the wants and needs of customers through qualitative and quantitative research — will help you dive into the mindset of your consumers. Every decision they make is based on an emotional response, so understanding the emotional decision-making journey they go through will help you develop a more effective, more persuasive voice and message.
Questions to Ask:
- When did you realize you needed a product/service like ours?
- What problem does our product/service alleviate/eliminate for you?
- Why did you engage with our brand over our competitors?
- What concerns did you have before buying from us/working with us?
- Who influences your decision-making?
But the real work is only getting started. Once you have those answers, it’s time to analyze. Look for recurring themes or words throughout the responses. Pull out specific feedback into what your customers care about that directly supports your company values. Run a copy audit and look for gaps in your current messages and the ones your customers are seeking. If your customers are telling you that the convenience of your product is why they love it, but you keep talking about affordability, that’s a gap. And you’re ready to make some changes.
Authenticity is your most powerful marketing tool. At shyft, we listen, learn, and ask the tough questions to create solutions that solidify brand loyalty. Contact us to shift your mindset and find your most authentic voice.