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Authentic Marketing in a Digital World

Posted by The Icehouse on 9/12/2013 11:22:51 AM

A great friend of The Icehouse, Duncan Shand, Managing Director of Young & Shand attended a marketing conference in the Big Apple circa 2013. He had a few notes to share that cant be missed!

We’ve just spent a week in New York at Ad Tech - one of the biggest marketing conferences in the world. This obviously was a great chance to reflect, to understand what’s going on and see what’s hot right now. Apart from learning some new buzzwords - think programmatic real-time native advertising, what was interesting was that despite all of the technology and hype, what we do as marketers needs to be ground in what is real and what is authentic.


Marketing has always been about how we can shift perceptions, increase brand preference and influence people to trial and ultimately buy our products. Historically in the pre internet landscape you could be tempted to develop commercials that stretched reality a little (sometimes a lot). It still it’s tempting to stretch the truth a little. Today though you can’t get away with it. People will always find you out. Now more than ever what’s important is to be authentic.

Authenticity has to be central to everything we do in marketing, in advertising. It’s not an easy path but over the medium long-term it is the only option. As business leaders as marketing managers we need to ensure and challenge our teams to make sure what we are producing has a real purpose to it. We have to make sure we understand our market and make products that are fit for purpose - that make a difference, that are better and help our customers do more, achieve more.

This shift has created a move from advertising to innovating. We can’t just rely on talking about our products and brands - if there are new better options out there consumers will find them and tell their friends about them. Today we estimate around 25% of consumers share their brand experiences with online. This 25% can create more influence than any advertising campaign. We care about things being new, better, improved, we await the next iPhone, Playstation, or Prius release with eager anticipation (OK maybe not the next Prius). The point is we value innovation and now consumers have the power to spread the word and influence each other as much or more than advertising ever did.

To underline this here are a few numbers. Studies have shown that work of mouth drives twice the sales of paid media. Also sales referred by a trusted source have a 37% higher retention rate - so referred customers stay customers longer. In addition while overall studies have shown 25% of consumers are brand influencers - research indicates this figure is as high as 73% in millennials (those born after 1980). Lastly studies have shown that offers presented by trusted brand advocates have a 4 to 10 times higher redemption rate.

So what does this mean? Firstly have a great product or service and make sure you have a continuous product improvement process. This ensures you’ll have a stream of ‘news’ to talk about. Secondly focus on promoting what you are doing, understand the target marketing, understand their pain, demonstrate how you can help. The trick is to provide content that is sharable. This could be an article, video, competition but it needs to be helpful and entertaining. Encourage people to sign up to receive information - this could be via email or social. And then track everything so you can uncover your influencers and understand how influential they are.

Marketing principles don’t really change.

What does change is the range of options available to us as marketers. Of course we can still do everything we used to be able to do, but now we have a lot more technology and more options to choose from. In the past the only way to influence word of mouth was to pay people to call out drink brands at a bar, get B list celebs to endorse them, or get editors to pick up Press Release and publish them as news. We can still do all of that. Now though we can find and understand who our brand influencers are, that ordinary 25% of people that are prepared to talk about and share their experiences with your brand. That changes the game.

Like most things in life this isn’t easy. You can’t just flip a switch or run a programme to do it. You still have to do all the hard work. But if you make an effort to create interesting shareable content and track why happens when people interact with it, then there are interesting things you can uncover - what content resonates with your target customers, which campaign performs better, which customers are more influential than others. These are important discoveries, discoveries you can act on to make your marketing more effective.

That’s what people care about - things that are new, things that are useful to them and others. Makes sure you are creating new things and embracing new marketing. But makes sure it comes from a real place, an authentic place.


Topics: Technology & Digital, Brand & Marketing

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