Reaching customers on a personal level and establishing a deeper connection
In today’s world, businesses often have to compete against many others in their industry to gain customers and make a profit. In order to run a successful business, it’s important to consider what customers look for and their preferences, and then apply that in your marketing strategies. According to a survey from Stackla, “86 percent of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support.” That percentage shows how essential it is to create an authentic connection with your target market.
Businesses often wonder how they can reach customers on a deeper level and create a more personal connection. By taking risks and showing vulnerability, you develop a relationship deeper than the surface. Not only will it help with client relationships, but it’s a great type of advertising. Risk-taking and vulnerability are qualities of leadership, and leadership traits are attractive.
It’s easy to be vulnerable in your business. It simply takes practice. Let go of the stodgy, uptight, worried emotions and interact with your fans, clients, customers and/or prospects. You may even know most of your fans personally, so why would you distance yourself from them by trying to be something you’re not? Share your love for your family, friends, and company, and people will resonate with it because it is relatable.
Recall Dove’s revolutionary “Campaign for Real Beauty,” which revived the brand. Their public relations company, Edelman, conducted a study of more than 3,000 women in 10 countries to better understand what women value and how they perceive themselves. It came as a shock that only two percent of women considered themselves beautiful, and Dove saw an opportunity for some real, vulnerable, meaningful and ultimately heartwarming advertising. The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty won a handful of awards and contributed to a sales increase to the tune of $1.5 billion. Now that’s beautiful. Of this, marketing expert Kirsten Nelson writes:
Dove wasn’t touting a revolutionary lotion formula with its campaign. Its product formulas didn’t change. And its lotions and creams are much like those of its competitors. The differentiating factor is in the positioning of the product. Dove isn’t selling soap. It is selling acceptance and recognition of beauty in women just as they are. Increased sales of soap and related products are the results of this affirmation of normality in women’s appearances.4
Authenticity, which stems from your life experience, can translate into effective advertising. You can’t help but bring what you love into your business, and the more you disconnect the two, the more distance you create between you and your customers.
You might be able to get away with white lies and telling people what you think they want to hear, but I doubt you’ll thrive. The truth simply takes less energy, which you can then use toward your goals. Authenticity is incredibly hard to fake and moving people to action or to tears requires that you connect with the vulnerable parts of yourself.
Great businesses understand they must be authentic with their audience, and vulnerable. Imagine sacrificing profit for a larger purpose. It seems crazy, but TOMs (the shoe company) did it. They are a for-profit enterprise, and according to TOMs.com they’ve put 60 million pairs of shoes on children’s feet in over 60 countries. You’d better believe their ads tug at your heartstrings and are authentic. They’re asking you to spend more than you usually would and trust that they will do the philanthropic work they promise. Their vulnerability is an invitation to share in an authentic experience, and of course to signal to others that you consume consciously. Some might call this cynical, but the results are the same: a powerful brand, happy customers and shoes on the feet of people who need them. Walking solidarity.
Large corporations that don’t adapt to this new way of behaving will suffer as they pour money into ad campaigns geared toward the old 30 second TV commercial model and compete for the lowest price. Through digital media, companies can earn their customers’ attention over hours, online, with heartfelt messaging. We have much more than the 30 second TV slots to engage them, and the story needs to be compelling over multiple points of contact, from social media to websites, online video, etc.
Being vulnerable, authentic and having empathy is the prime forces leading the future of advertising. Consumers will be more inclined to buy from you if you demonstrate that you care about making the world a better place. Your online reviews tell the story of whether or not you know what you are doing. You simply can’t tell me you are great at your job – the community will do that. Instead of advertising egotistically, advertise altruistically. Get behind a movement worth your time and energy and tell that story. We will all be glad you did.