In 2019, people are more and more aware of marketing tactics, product placement, and the “brand agenda”. People want to see authentic marketing, not tricks of the trade. Over the last decade, we’ve seen consumers become aware of how companies may attempt to position themselves as environmentally friendly, socially conscious, diversity-focused, or otherwise shine a light on a hot button topic without really doing any good in the world.
With the rise of social media, brands began jumping on trendy bandwagons, working with influencers, and finding new and more subtle ways to promote their products that didn’t feel to consumers like they were even being sold anything. However, as marketing got more subtle, consumers, in turn, kept a closer eye. So that begs the question, how do businesses market themselves creatively when consumers are so sensitive and averse to advertising?
The Answer: Authentic Marketing
You can still use every marketing tactic there ever was, it just must be genuine. Your efforts need to go past marketing and promotion and be a true part of your brand’s identity. With the rise of digital technology, consumers can get answers, financial reports, read reviews, and inspect every aspect of your company before making a purchase. If your employees or CEO makes a bad move, people care and they’re going to notice. This shouldn’t be seen as a threat, but an opportunity to be better.
Scared to be labeled as a “green washer” but want to promote the eco-friendly steps your business is taking? If you are truly running a green company, you’ve got nothing to worry about. Don’t just sell recycled products, see if the company can go paperless. Invest in solar panels for the office. Have ride-share days or promote biking or walking to work. It’s about making the identity of your business authentic. If you want to be seen as “green” you simply must be green.
Gone are the days where slapping “family friendly” on a billboard will work for your business. If you want to be seen as family-friendly, make sure you have strong family-leave policies. Make it a good place for parents to work. If you want to be seen as a business that supports your community, don’t just sponsor a local event, actually get involved. Have open house days and welcome school kids in to learn about running a business. Close your business for the day and go clean up at a local park.
All in all, consumers are paying attention to what you do and they want to support brands who do the right thing. It’s not about having to be perfect, it’s about being genuine and authentic. So, how do you want consumers to see your business? Are you following through on those practices?
Authentic marketing is all about telling the truth. Start with having a great business, and then tell people the truth about why it’s great. Don’t just try and tell them what they want to hear. They’re not going to buy it. Pun very much intended.