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Top Tips For Marketing To Your Audience Without Losing Your Identity

Top Tips For Marketing To Your Audience Without Losing Your Identity

Successful marketing will always mean trying to innovate, work creatively and in ways that put you on the same page as your customers. Just find the right balance between connecting authentically and mere pandering. To thine own brand be true!

It’s that cringe-inducing moment when, as a teenager, your parents try using some kind of popular slang when they’re with your friends. Or when your teacher tries to throw in pop-culture references to movies and TV shows you’re pretty sure they’ve never actually watched. The cuter version is when a young child decides to try acting like a grownup by strutting around in their parent’s clothing or shoes.

These are all things we can laugh at when they happen in our personal life, but when the equivalent happens in the way a brand markets itself, you can count on customers leaving in droves.

One of the realities of living in the Age of the Customer is that they demand authenticity. They understand that they’re being marketed to, and in more sophisticated ways than ever before. Even if you’re primarily trying to speak to consumers, many of them might work in B2B firms as part of their day jobs. That means they might be well aware of personas and how organizations target based on common characteristics.

This creates an admittedly tight balancing act for marketers. On the one hand, they need to be able to go to where the audience is in terms of channels, topic or trends, and speak to them in a way that comes across as natural and friendly. On the other hand, when a brand tries too hard, it can damage whatever trust they were trying to establish with that customer.

Worse, those same customers might relay their reaction to friends and peers, either in person or on social media. When a brand acts in a way that suggests it has to have forgotten its identity, it’s easy for those mistakes like these to get amplified, and quickly.

Even among the most successful brands in terms of content marketing, there might not be a common way to measure things like authenticity, but start by looking at your branding and messaging through your customers’ eyes, rather than your own priorities and what you want them to think and feel. Then, bear some of the do’s and don’ts that follow as you try to remind everyone who you really are:

Do: Make your ‘About Us’ content consistent and ubiquitous

Most companies have some kind of background story about their origins and mission on their website, but that’s not the only place it should live. There should be similar messaging somewhere in your email newsletter, shorter versions in your social account profile bios and all signage and graphics used for events and ads.

The text here should be meaningful, but it doesn’t have to stop at the written word. Use videos that reinforce your identity to customers. Use a standard intro about your company’s sense of purpose in the opening seconds of a podcast. This should become as memorable as your logo to your audience.

Don’t: Focus your efforts on things designed solely to get attention

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 rapper for your customer event? It can depend on whether that artist is aligned with your brand’s values, your customer’s interests and whether the event needs musical entertainment at all. Funny cat videos? Hmmm. Maybe create videos that focus more on customers’ actual interests and problems instead.

Digital media includes all kinds of ways for organizations to stand out, but think about what happens after the customer has presumably noticed you. If the core message isn’t compelling or meaningful to them, they’ll just feel cheated, no matter how clever your opening salvo.

Do: Be transparent about your goals and learning curve

Let’s say you want to try marketing through Instagram for the first time. It’s a great channel, but marketing primarily through images might be new territory. You could come off as too stuffy and corporate, or too fluffy with your content. That’s okay, though, if you’re up front with your audience about why you see a channel like that as valuable to your audience, 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 in to telling them relevant stories.

We all create some 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.

Don’t: Say one thing but do something else (or nothing)

It sounds obvious, but there are plenty of examples of where companies will talk about values that they don’t really stand behind. This could include firms that offer platitudes about the environment but create a lot of internal waste, or who tout the importance of diversity and inclusion but have an all-male board of directors.

Customers often pay more attention to brands than companies realize. Make sure if you’re marketing around a cause or anything else that will deeply matter to your customers you can back it up with proof. It might be an investment into a local community or building in policies that encourage staff to donate volunteer hours to a charity or non-profit.

Do: Market directly through customers whenever possible

Even when the marketing materials are well-produced, customers might ask themselves, “But do they really know what it’s like to be me?” The only definitive way to answer the question is to ensure your marketing weaves in voices from their peers.

This is where assets like case studies and testimonials can be key to a brand’s identify, because it means you’re putting customers first and not letting your own personality get in the way. You can do the same thing with customer interviews via videos, podcasts or at live events.

Successful marketing will always mean trying to innovate, work creatively and in ways that put you on the same page as your customers. Just find the right balance between connecting authentically and mere pandering. To thine own brand be true!

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