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Dos and don’ts: How to Make Your Brand Marketing Authentic

How you approach brand marketing will make all the difference in securing customer loyalty for years to come. Here’s how you can optimise your digital marketing strategy so it’s authentic to your brand.

Customers are on to you. Try to fool them into thinking your brand is something it isn’t and they won’t hesitate to walk. Worse, they might even trash your brand on Twitter in the social media equivalent of knocking over tables and spilling drinks on the way out. But when a brand is true to itself, it’ll drive customer loyalty — authenticity is the new north star of marketing.

✅ Do: Find a balance between personalisation and trust

In the age of customer-centricity, personalised marketing is crucial. Consumers know they’re being marketed to, and in more sophisticated ways than ever before. Rather than tolerating marketing’s presence, they expect tailored, personalised, relevant messages and products. 

In fact, according to a Salesforce report featuring insights from nearly 17,000 consumers and business buyers, 73% of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations, while 56% expect offers to always be personalised.  

However, there’s a fine line between personalised and creepy. Your customers want to know that you’re transparent with how you use their data. In our State of the Connected Customer report, 61% of consumers said they were comfortable with companies using relevant personal information in a transparent and beneficial manner — up from 52% in 2020.  

This creates a tight balancing act for marketers — to build brand trust, you need to be transparent, while still being careful not to overstep any boundaries that might make them feel uncomfortable. At the same time, you need to ensure that all marketing reaches the right audiences on the right channel, with the right message, at the right time.

❌ Don’t have a disingenuous digital marketing strategy

It’s that cringe-inducing moment — a teenager’s dad tries to use popular slang around her friends, or a teacher attempts a pop-culture reference to a show they’ve never seen.

It’s easy to laugh when this stuff happens in our personal lives. But when the equivalent happens in brand marketing, it’s a sure-fire way to alienate customers.

No matter how much data and analysis is fuelling an interaction, your brand must speak to the individual in a way that comes across as natural and friendly. And when a brand tries too hard, it can damage trust in just a few false moves.

If the marketing team communicates in opposition to established brand voice, tone and style, or contradicts the brand’s values and messages, customers are quick to relay their reactions to friends and family. Add social media to the mix, and those mistakes get quickly amplified.Start by looking at your branding and messaging through your customers’ eyes, rather than your own priorities. What do you want them to think and feel? Then, with some help from these dos and don’ts, start reminding everyone who you really are.

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✅ Do: Stay true to your brand story

Most companies feature an origin story,a mission statement and an overview of their company values on their website. But it’s crucial that brands tell this story across all platforms, not just their website. 

To keep this messaging consistent, create different versions of your boilerplate at a variety of lengths, and ensure everyone who communicates — across any function — has access to them and understands how to use them.

❌ Don’t: Sideline your values

Another important consideration for marketers is to stay true to your corporate values. For many customers, it’s not enough for companies to deliver a great product or service — nine in 10 consumers expect companies to clearly state their values, but only half feel this is common practice. 

Importantly, 85% of customers say their purchase decisions are swayed by how companies treat employees, and over three-quarters watch for environmental practices, like protecting natural resources and achieving net zero emissions. Brands can’t sit on the sidelines and not expect to be held accountable.

✅ Do: Embrace customer testimonials

This is where customer case studies and testimonials will be key to your brand marketing strategy, because it shows you’re putting customers first and not letting your own brand get in the way. You can do the same thing by featuring customers in interviews via videos and podcasts, and giving them the stage at live events.

Successful marketing demands an innovative and creative approach to getting on the same page as your customers. Do it with a light and authentic touch, and to thine own brand be true.

❌ Don’t: Rely on attention seeking digital marketing strategies  at the cost of meaningful interactions

Emojis in email campaigns? Sure, as long as they don’t clutter up the subject line, or introduce a visual element that doesn’t have anything to do with the text. Hire a musician for your customer event? It can depend on whether that artist is aligned with your brand’s values and your customers’ interests, and whether the event needs musical entertainment at all. Funny cat videos? Hmmm. Unless you’re in pet care, maybe create videos that focus more on the customers interests and problems that relate to what you offer instead.

Your digital marketing strategy should help you stand out, but you should think about what happens after the customer has noticed you. If they turn to the core message and it’s unrelated to what attracted their interest, or isn’t compelling or meaningful to them, they’ll just feel cheated, no matter how clever your opening line.

✅ Do: Own your mistakes

Let’s say you want to start a marketing program on Instagram or TikTok. They can be great channels, but marketing primarily through images or video might be new territory, and the expectations of social media audiences can clash with corporate brand guidelines. 

For example, if your brand is more on the corporate side, your content might come off as too stuffy for the channel. Or, if you try too hard to align with the channel, your content might end up being too fluffy. 

Be upfront with your senior team about why you believe channels like Instagram or TikTok will be valuable to your audience and for your broader digital marketing strategy, and that you’re experimenting as you go.

In fact, why not try asking customers for comments and suggestions about what they’d like to see from you on a channel like Instagram? Show the behind-the-scenes of a photo or video shoot that lets them understand the effort you’re putting into telling relevant stories.

We all create content that falls flat occasionally. Be prepared to own up to mistakes, laugh at them along with your audience and show you’ve learned next time around.

✅ Do: Embrace marketing automation

As many businesses are charged with doing more with less, marketers need to find ways to make the most of their existing tools and technologies. 

How can you ensure bespoke and personalised marketing experiences for every single customer at scale? It used to be a big problem, but digital solutions like customer relationship management (CRM) technology and marketing automation tools are remedying that. 

In particular, marketing automation tools will enable marketers to be more proactive and help them improve the customer’s experience by nurturing demand in the most streamlined and always-on manner.

Get more insights and trends in our latest State of Marketing report

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This content was updated in March 2023.

Salesforce Staff

The 360 Blog from Salesforce teaches readers how to improve work outcomes and professional relationships. Our content explores the mindset shifts, organizational hurdles, and people behind business evolution. We also cover the tactics, ethics, products, and thought leadership that make growth a meaningful and positive experience.

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