Have you been struggling to figure out exactly how to be more “honest” in your marketing? If you’re like me, you’ve probably all kinds of articles imploring you to be more honest and authentic that don’t explain exactly how one would go about doing that.
Recently, I read an article about marketing to “Gen-Z,” even though the insights could apply to anyone.
Managing Director of Brand Intelligence at Morning Consult Victoria Sakal said: “We know that certain trust-building qualities – openness, transparency, and authenticity – matter much more to this generation (Gen-Z), both because they see through canned communications and retro-fitted purpose…”
It goes on from there but I was most struck by the phrase “see-through.”
Everything that she said is valid and useful, but understanding that your audience is going to “see-through” your marketing is incredibly important. That’s true whether you’re marketing to Gen-Z, seniors, or anyone else.
What “See Through” Means
In this context, I took “see-through” to mean that your audience will see how you’re trying to market to them.
They know that you’re trying to sell them something. They know that you’re trying to give your company a certain image.
To use an example, think of Ford Trucks.
Usually, when you see their television ads, the trucks are doing some kind of hard work. This work is always presented in a very “All-American” way, making direct appeals to commonly shared values such as family, responsibility, and so forth.
To “see-through” that ad is to know that, sure, Ford is definitely patriotic, but they very much want you to buy a truck.
There’s nothing wrong in any way with Ford’s approach (the ads are great and so are the trucks) but “seeing through” it, they’re always putting this ad out to get you to buy a truck. There are lessons here for your company, particularly when it comes to connecting to your customer base.
“What are We Really Asking For?”
Before you make an ad, post on social media, work on your brand, or anything else that has to do with your company’s marketing, ask that question.
“In this (post/ad/video/blog/content/etc.) what are we really asking for?”
This can be very clarifying.
The answer can be, of course, “we’re asking people to buy our product.” That’s fine.
However, if you want to connect with people in an authentic fashion, that probably can’t be the entire message. It shouldn’t be all that you’re saying.
This is where so much of that marketing about “highlighting what you’re doing to keep people safe during the pandemic” and “showing your charitable donations” comes in. When you showcase that, you’re asking potential customers for your business, yes, but you’re also asking them to connect with you.
You’re asking them to be a part of something that’s more than just a product or service, it’s a real brand. Moreover, it’s a brand that may share the same values.
Now, we’re not saying that everything you do has to show off that you give money to charity, nor does every ad have to be someone saying, directly to the camera, something like: “we’re asking for your business.”
What we are saying is that people are savvier about marketing than ever before. That doesn’t have to just be a challenge – it can be a real opportunity.