Marketing 101 – Be authentic. Thanks for reading, see you next time!
I’m sorry, you already knew that? Of course you did! Being authentic is a base tenet of effective marketing that has existed since the first caveman sold a rock to another caveman. But something that lesser marketing people spent too much time thinking about pre-pandemic was artificial authenticity or manufactured authenticity. The best analogy I can think of is the “How Do You Do Fellow Kids” meme where Steve Buscemi is dressed like a stereotypical teen and speaking to high school kids trying to fit in to sell to them.
Post pandemic consumers are especially discerning when it comes to advertising of products and the companies who produce those products. Being truly authentic isn’t really a trick or a tip, but we’re going to go over three points that help show why it’s so important.
POST PANDEMIC: AUTHENTICALLY CARING WINS THE DAY
While authenticity has always been important, it cannot be overstated how expected it is by post pandemic consumers. Companies in general are being judged, sometimes very harshly, for how they have responded to Covid-19, how they’ve treated their employees, and how they have supported their communities. Many companies who were leaders in the authenticity game, like Apple and Hershey’s, found themselves wanting as their messages suddenly felt dated.*2
As a business owner you have the opportunity to show off your company culture and how it applies to your workforce and your buyers. This doesn’t need to be an extraordinary display or charity or even an acknowledgement of current political issues, but consumers want to know that you are more than a product on the shelf. This can manifest in many different ways, and examples of that can be found in companies like Subaru and Tom’s Shoes who combine purchase of products with philanthropy, or young companies like Panda Mony Toy Brands who maintain a fan club that produces free materials that are mailed to members monthly. The point is that a company that shows it cares for its customers, either overtly or subtly, has the advantage in today’s market.
SLICK PRODUCTION IS OUT OF FASHION
Nobody likes to be sold to. The consumer likes to feel like they are making the decision to purchase your product. This is nothing new. However public tastes have changed in the world of advertising. According to 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer*8 consumers are seeking out compassionate factual advertising. 69% of survey respondents said that they would actively avoid buying from a company that seemed to put profits over people. That’s a big number.
And what that looks like to people has changed as well. Now slick commercial productions look out of place and “expensive.” In a world where we are all on teleconferencing and have the kitchen in the background as the kids play, seeing two people in an office on TV seems out of touch. Things that look like they are made at home or seem more like a YouTube video get a higher level of trust. Fajen Consulting put it best:
“Think of it as an evolution from highly perfected Kardashians to home-grown Jimmy Fallon monologues produced in his kitchen. Consumers want strong brands but one where your surface isn’t epoxied. Be authentic – as soft and squishy as the rest of the world’s surface truly is right now.”*2
This is especially useful for small to midsize companies that were never in a position to do big, slick productions in the first place. Now simple, easier to produce messages are most effective. The ability to distribute that message using social media and video platforms like YouTube and TikTok puts you in the same weight class as multinational corporations. Be sincere in your messaging and don’t worry about that camera crew or expensive spokesperson.
BE A PART OF THE SOLUTION
The pandemic highlighted several things that were immediately required for most of the working public and students. In this particular case we can look to companies like Zoom who relaxed their subscriptions and time limits to allow people to work and do school from home. This translated to a significantly stronger market position than they had at the beginning of 2020, even facing major players like Microsoft Teams and Google Meet. While the pandemic absolutely shined a light on great examples like this, it’s important to realize that the idea of being a problem solver in the post-pandemic world will be equally important.
As much as the U.S. is opening back up, we’re still facing an economic struggle. As much as people are ready to “get back to normal” the underlying financial infrastructure of the country is not there yet. This means that any marketing you do will need to be done with the emotional intelligence to recognize the issues that your customer may be facing. This doesn’t mean heartfelt “we are thinking of you” messages (although if that’s appropriate for your brand don’t hesitate to say it), instead think of creative ways that you can help solve those problems.
You might want to have a sale on your most essential products or services, or allow payment plans when you didn’t before. Maybe there’s an introductory class that you can offer that is valuable, but doesn’t give away the farm. As a business and brand you always want to consider your positioning and message, and the current state of the post-pandemic world is a great time to do that.
I hope these suggestions help. It’s very important to remember that whatever you do needs to be seated in the core values of the company. Modern consumers are savvy and can smell manufactured authenticity a mile away. Stick to your ideals and don’t be afraid to share. Your like minded consumers are out there and ready. If you are looking for useful suggestions and ways to implement your message, let us know. We’re here to help and guide you into this post pandemic marketplace.