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Honest — Not Aspirational — Marketing Is Key To Customer Satisfaction

Honest — Not Aspirational — Marketing Is Key To Customer Satisfaction

These are some of the attributes of honest marketing and why they matter and why they are the key to customer satisfaction.

She goes by different names, but she’s been the star of so many TV commercials, billboards and digital ads that many people probably know her simply as “Supermom.”

This is the woman who has put her nose to the grindstone to climb her way to the top of the corporate ladder. She is a born leader, fearlessly making the tough decisions that will help her company to be the best in its industry.

If that weren’t enough, though, she’s also a loving mother of four. Despite the challenges of her job, she always makes it home on time to cook a healthy, balanced meal for her family, which includes a handsome husband.

Just as impressive, she manages to stay on top of a busy social life which includes a group of friends she’s had since high school. They talk, they text and whenever it’s possible they get together to play competitive tennis (which, of course, she excels at).

Did we mention she is also beautiful, in good shape and somehow never breaks a nail?

Brands don’t always go into detail on each of these aspects of Supermom. Depending on the products and services they sell, they probably focus on the ones they help enable. A fitness brand, for instance, might focus on how it helps Supermom have enough energy to balance all her other interests and responsibilities.

When you put all these talents and character traits together, though, it might seem ridiculously unrealistic. Yet much of the storytelling in content marketing has been aimed at suggesting you could get closer to reaching this kind of ideal, as long as you buy the right things.

This is marketing based on aspiration. Although it can work occasionally, it may not be the best way to develop the customer relationships you want.

The Risks Of Marketing Based On Aspiration

Most people are all too aware they fall short of the aspirational ideal, often for reasons that aren’t their fault. Seeing aspirational content all the time can become akin to an accusing finger, demanding to know why they haven’t done better.

The other danger of aspirational marketing is that it stretches the truth. There are only so many hours in the day, for example. How could Supermom possibly fit everything in, even with all her abilities?

Supermom isn’t the only example of aspirational marketing, of course. You see the same kind of elements in ads that talk about “dream vacations” where nothing goes wrong, or which market baby products and feature infants who are never less than perfect angels.

The Customer Experience Difference Honest Marketing Can Make

Contrast this with a more honest approach to marketing — one where you talk to customers in the context of what they’re actually going through and how you can help them. These are some of the attributes of honest marketing and why they matter:

a) Data-driven: This isn’t about simply trying to be more relatable. Honest marketing is inherently more credible because it can be based on real customer data. Whether you use third-party market research or simply information you’ve collected directly, you can talk about customers’ problems or unmet needs.

In some cases these problems or needs can be quantified, where you use data to show statistically how many people in your target market are facing the same challenges. Instead of giving them a fictitious ideal to aspire to, you’re creating a sense of kinship and community by making people feel less alone.

b) Values-Based: Honest marketing looks at customers’ needs and problems through a very particular lens. Yes, your company wants to turn a profit, but what kind of mark you do want to make on the community you’re serving? What informs your mission and sense of purpose?

When you’re not trying to grab customers’ attention with aspirational marketing, you can make your values the heart of the stories you tell. In other words, part of your messaging could go beyond your products and services to talk about your commitment to values like sustainability or diversity, equity and inclusion.

c) Conversational: Aspirational marketing can be something of a monologue: You, the band, are telling your target market how they could achieve wealth, happiness or some other goal. Their job is essentially to listen to you, and of course to spend money with you.

Honest marketing doesn’t necessarily attempt to offer all the answers. Instead, it’s a brand talking about how it will help as best it can, while encouraging feedback and tapping into the expertise of its customers.

In fact, some of the most successful honest marketing aims to uplift and amplify the voices of customers. Instead of the brand pushing a message, it focuses on letting customers share their struggles, hopes and dreams with each other. This makes the brand more of a facilitator, which in turn helps earn greater trust.

Striking A Balance

Honest and aspirational marketing are not necessarily polar opposites. There is a way to do both.

If you start off with an honest portrayal of your customers’ lives, it becomes easier to help them imagine a brighter future. Instead of putting Supermom front and centre, for instance, you can offer ideas to reduce stress or find more time for what matters to them.

When this is done well, the aspirations featured in marketing content aren’t generic and intended to apply across the board. They are based in realism and reflect what a brand has heard from its community. The aspirations might not be as grandiose, but they might be more achievable.

Most brands have some degree of honest marketing as well as aspirational elements. Take the time to review the stories you’re telling and make sure you’re creating content that speaks to the truth your customers will recognize.

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