The truth is — people are fed up with companies churning out perfectly polished brand images, well-crafted press releases, and corporate statements that sound like a publicist wrote them. They’re tired of some corporations turning a blind eye to the reality of their business (toxic workplaces, unfair wages, and poor working conditions for factory workers), or for that matter, lying about it all.
In reality, customers have become savvier, sassier, and more vocal about what they expect (and often demand) from brands these days. That’s one of the compelling reasons why smart brands are leading with authenticity, rather than relying on it as a last resort.
As Jeff Bezos, the Founder of Amazon says, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” To help create a more influential brand that people rave (instead of rant) about, here are some helpful tips to think about when planning marketing and communications campaigns.
Whether you’re just starting a company or have been in business for decades, here are three ways to use authenticity to build customer loyalty in today’s times.
Engender trust from customers
To start with, authenticity inherently breeds trust. When customers get a better sense of the types of people who run a company, they begin to trust them more. Whether the message is coming from a brand founder or a social media marketing team, one of the keys to engendering trust amongst your customer base is to be open, honest, and transparent with them. Express your values, show your integrity, and share your beliefs in a way that reflects your brand identity.
For example, if you produce goods, consider posting Instagram stories that take your audience on a “behind the scenes” tour of your factory. Show your customers that the factory has undergone a social accountability audit and meets standards (for fair treatment of workers and safe working conditions). These are just some of the things that consumers care about, as human rights have become an aspect that customers consider when deciding which brands to support.
Create deeper connections
Another way to use authenticity in your marketing approach is to think about the human-to-human interaction.
Whenever your brand launches a marketing campaign, posts on social media, or engages with customers online, focus on creating deeper connections with them. They want to know that you care about their needs, are listening to their complaints and value their feedback.
In previous decades, companies would market to consumers like a one-way street. More often than not, their executive teams would hide behind FAQ pages on websites and rely on call centers shielded by 1-800 numbers. But, nowadays, everyone is essentially a click away. This means the power has shifted to give customers a louder voice (which can either be an asset or a liability to you, depending on what they’re saying about your brand).
Smart brands use social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to actively engage with their audience. Instead of just constantly promoting and selling, their teams make sure to reply to comments and questions, to answer disgruntled complaints, and to even spotlight raving fans (which make them feel valued and recognized). Just like any relationship, both parties need to feel valued and heard. So, think about your online marketing approach as a two-way dialogue, which will create deeper connections and more loyal customers.
Evoke a sense of humanity
Finally, when you focus on authenticity as a core part of your marketing efforts, you evoke a sense of humanity. Whether your company donates funds to charities or actively supports worthy causes, brands that show care for humanity often go further in the eyes of consumers than those that are only profit-oriented. A perfect example of this is TOMS, the shoe brand that has earned strong brand loyalty through its philanthropic business model.
Authenticity has become one of the most important aspects to incorporate into any marketing and communication strategy. The more effectively that you can connect with, listen to, and relate to your customer base, the more loyal they’ll be. And, that, we know – is one of the keys to a lasting business.