Be Real, Be You or Be Nothing

Be Real, Be You or Be Nothing

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Before marketing and advertising, there was only sales. To this day, a large number of companies (to their detriment) focus only on sales, blindly hoping their success will continue unchecked. There’s a reason you haven’t heard of many of them.

Big, successful companies (Apple, Nike, Coca-Cola etc) have put marketing at the very centre of their business, and as marketing and advertising has become more targeted and effective over the years, they have used them as tools to build loyalty and stand out from their competitors.

Company vs brand

The difference between a company and brand then, is simply the relationship that has been built between a brand and it’s customers. It’s the age-old story: Phillips makes a great MP3 player, so why do people pay 30% + more for an iPod with less functionality?

Ducati makes a fantastic motorbike, but people have been tattooing Harley Davidson on themselves for years. The difference is emotion and loyalty, and both are built through design, branding, advertising and marketing. Simply put, if you aren’t engaging and interacting with your customers on a regular basis, you are nowhere.

So now that we get that, we can implement it and everything will be good right? Wrong. The problem is that now marketing and advertising is everywhere. The clutter/wallpaper is enormous.

The average human being cannot step out of their front door without being bombarded by thousands of messages a day, all with one purpose – to sell you something. Everywhere you turn, someone is trying to sell to you and they are not subtle about it. The result is that potential customers become annoyed, wary and ultimately jaded. The result is disinterest and apathy towards your brand.

The rise of social media

The explosion of social media into our lives has shown us this. Here is a place where people express themselves, mostly openly, revealing their personalities/hopes/desires to others in a format that is considered ‘safe’ because of its anonymity. Anyone, any company, trying to sell, is immediately blocked and discarded.

No-matter how many brands continue to bloody their heads against this proverbial wall, people will only ‘allow you in’ if you are authentic and genuine and add value to their lives. At the rate that social media is taking over and becoming the future, this means that all interactive communication with people will have to become real or face a fate worse than change – irrelevance.

So many companies over the years have lied, manipulated and even broken promises to people, that they have created a rod for their own backs. In a world where everyone is bullshitting you, authenticity has become a rare and appreciated quality. Companies that approach us in a real way, transparently and with empathy are the only ones we are prepared to trust anymore, and without trust there is no relationship. With no relationship, there is no emotional pull for a brand and no loyalty either.

Clever ways to sell

There’s another reason why this ‘new’ approach to people is a clever way to sell. It’s called the Emotional Bank Account. Every time you approach people as a real person (representing a company), they learn to trust you, like you and appreciate you a little more.

Each interaction is a ‘deposit’ into the Emotional Bank Account. So when a mistake is made or an expectation not met, you’ve built up some credit with them. You can afford a ‘withdrawal’ from your account with them, because they are more likely to understand, more forgiving and more open to giving you another chance. As any marketing expert in the world will tell you, it is far easier to turn a dissatisfied customer around than it is to get them back, once they have moved on from your brand.

It’s been my experience that people only buy two things anymore: People buy people and people buy ideas. The new sales environment is actually an environment of relationships. Building relationships with your customers over time engenders loyalty and as with any relationship, good ones are built on trust, empathy and with love. Which means marketing ‘manipulations’ or disingenuous messaging is a thing of the past.

The new advertising environment is no longer just about attraction or even engagement. It is about experiences, created from big ideas.

Reaching your customer at every possible touch point in a way that inspires, entertains and captures their attention, drawing them closer to your brand through honesty, genuine interaction and emotion. Then you have them for good. As the famous philosopher, Maya Angeloo said: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Mick Blore
Mick Blore is a founding partner of Original Forever, a creative agency that specializes in big ideas born of extraordinary creative strategy. For more information visit www.originalforever.co.za