In a marketing landscape where rightly marketeers are becoming more accountable for the results of their activities and as a result of that spending increasing amounts of their time analysing data, some companies seem to have forgotten the one thing that should always be at the forefront of their mind - the customer.
I received an e mail this morning..
'Dear Industry colleague,
I would like to personally invite you to join me..'
I'm going to admit, that didn't make me feel particularly special. Receiving a personal 'invitation' addressed to Dear Industry colleague suggests a company where the marketing people have forgotten that the recipient of that email is a real live person rather than a data point. If you don't know me or even my name then how can you possibly personally invite me? In this case I am not even part of that industry, but rather have a client involved in one of the industries that the event was about.
Put yourself in your customer's shoes
You can have all the insight in the world (and believe me I am not knocking customer insight as I think it's absolutely vital), but if you fail to think about the personal impact your marketing activity will have on your customers, then more than likely your efforts will be wasted. It is not always easy to take a step back but you must try, or even better ask your most 'honest' (for that read blunt) of your friends or colleagues how they would feel if they saw/received a particular piece of marketing literature. I am not referring here to whether they would take the action you would like your target market to take (as it they're not in your target market why would they), but rather does the language and tone ring true or does it jar in some way?
That buzzword you keep hearing - 'authenticity'
I'm not sure what the official 'definition' of authenticity is in a marketing context, but what I do know is that for me it is about both being true to what you as a company believe and also ensuring that you deliver your message honestly - so people believe that you mean what you are saying.
Going back to that e mail, I did not believe for a second that the sender of the e mail who I had never met and who didn't know my name really wanted to personally invite me to the show he was involved with. Even worse than that, it made me immediately think that they must be desperate for people to attend the show, otherwise why was he sending personal invites to complete strangers?
The key to believable marketing
Ensuring that your marketing activities come across as authentic means being honest with yourself first and foremost.
Firstly you need to define what your company stands for - what is your 'purpose' as a company? By 'purpose' I mean beyond making money and profits, what is it that you really want to achieve with your company? It's probably closely linked to why you, or if you're not the business owner, they set up the business in the first place. One of my clients for example is a ventilation company and at the heart of why the Managing Director set up the company is that he felt too many people were dying as a result of ignorance - with the companies they worked for failing to ensure their workspace was a safe place to be.
Once you've decided your purpose this needs to come through in every piece of marketing (and other) activity you undertake - so your customers understand what role your company performs.
The other key thing is more tactical and that is about defining what action you want your customer or potential customer to take as a result of the marketing activity you are undertaking and then thinking about why they might want to take that action and communicating that with integrity. For example, if that e mail had been about the fact that there were people I might have been interested in hearing from (ideally in an area that the profile they have of me suggested that I might be interested in) at that conference, then that might have got my interest. I didn't need a 'personal invite' - I just needed to know why it was worth my time going.
While hopefully the above makes sense, I am aware that like many things knowing what you need to do doesn't always make it easy to do. If you are in that situation and would like to chat, I do offer a free 1/2 hour meeting or chat on the phone if the distances are too far, so give me a call and I'll see if I can help.