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Is Your Customer The Hero: Authenticity and Other Musings From #SMMW19

Is your customer the hero

Christina Garnett is a digital strategist by trade and works with SMBs, nonprofits, and inbound agencies to enhance their digital footprint. In today's post, she gives us her take on what she learned at the recent Social Media Marketing World Conference.

Brands are gunning for market share. We are inundated with ads, influencers, podcasts, blogs, and the show you can't wait to binge on Netflix or Hulu. What gets your attention? What gets your loyalty?

The answer is probably very few of these. You go through your day and instantly know what you're attracted to. It could be your favorite song featured in an ad. It could be your favorite blogger reviewing a product you've been curious about. The only thing for sure is you are looking for a connection. You want your shows, ads, and brands to speak to your experience.

Mark Schaefer's ending keynote for Social Media Marketing World 2019, speaks to this rebellion from the "speak to the masses" approach and the redirection towards brands that we truly connect with. Customers are sick of being talked at. They want something to connect to. They want to belong.

When REI does their “Opt Outside” campaign you hear their customers cheer. Why go shopping and spend money on things you don't need just because it's a specific day of the year? Why not celebrate what REI and their customers are all about - the outdoors? Go out in nature, not the mall.

That is messaging that connects. This shows that REI truly appreciates the outdoors like their target market. This matters. 


The picture was taken by Christina at SMMW19

When creating campaigns and content are you doing it for the brand or for the audience? Are you creating connections or talking at them? Who is the real hero of your story? If it's not your audience, you need to rethink.

When brands speak to their audience they have the opportunity to do one of two things: treat it like a transaction or treat it like a relationship. If you see your customers as nothing more than a source for revenue, how will you ever truly comes across as a brand that cares about them? You can't. It feels inauthentic...forced.

Great, so make your customer the hero but how do you even do that?

Start with your champions. Who is giving you word of mouth love? Who are the people who talk about you online? Who love you? Once you've identified these people, look at your deeper personas. What do they care about? What issues are important to them? What makes them cheer? Feel empowered? Feel noticed? What makes them feel connected? Determine how this can be incorporated into your messaging and campaigns.

If you look at brands like ThirdLove, you already see this at work. When women look at brands like Victoria's Secret they see an image they can aspire to but never attain. They see an impossibility. When they see ThirdLove ads, they see themselves. They see women just like them feeling confident, sexy, and beautiful regardless of whether or not they're a size two.

The brand embraces this idea and even came so far as to directly address Victoria's Secret. It openly states that Victoria’s Secret may be a woman’s first love but ThirdLove is their final love. The love that appreciates their every curve and doesn’t want them to try to be something they’re not. They can be beautiful and sexy, just the way they are. If that doesn’t make a woman want to pull out her credit card, I don’t know what does. Their audience feels loved, appreciated, and understood. That’s the recipe for loyalty.

When you look at your own campaigns, who or what are you celebrating?

If it’s your own company or product, that campaign is really a pitch. You’re not creating connections and loyalty. You’re talking at your potential customer. By focusing your content on the customer’s journey, needs, hopes, and experience you start treating this interaction like a relationship. ThirdLove has started a love affair with their customer. They see them, appreciate them, love them. In return, their customers love them back. Praise them and give them the powerful force of positive word of mouth. Their customers help them grow. Their customers want them to succeed.

With a focus on the customer and an authentic love of them, brands can harness this relationship market, a world where authenticity and loyalty is the new branding.

About the author

Christina Garnett is a digital strategist and social listening analyst who works with SMBs, nonprofits, and inbound agencies to enhance their digital footprint. She uses social listening to better understand target audiences so her clients can strengthen their marketing efforts with a persona-based approach.

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