Marketing today is very different from marketing 10 years ago. In fact, marketing today is very different from how we did it even 3 years ago. The unofficial “rules” of marketing are changing, literally, everyday. AND it is more important than ever, particularly in today’s worldwide economic climate.

So much of how we market our company and our products today involves a communication with the public—the purchasing public. To this point, I say—Be Real. These are two very simple words, right?

I am referring to two things when I am asking that companies and their marketing “Be Real”.

  1. Be real in how you represent your brand.
  2. Be real in how you communicate with the public.

To accomplish these goals, I am a firm believer that companies need to use new marketing techniques (such as social media) in conjunction with traditional marketing techniques (such as brochures/literature) when planning their overall marketing plan and strategy.

“Marketing of old” was much more in the control of the company or its marketing department, in terms of how the information was disseminated to the purchasing public. Marketers were able to say who, what, when, where and how when it came to the information they wanted “out there”. The purchasing public really didn’t have a voice in this system of information gathering and distribution. It’s the way information was distributed and the company was able to give their message the way they wanted to give it. Online product demos were available. FAQs were a way to get an answer from a website without having to pick up the phone and speak to someone. You could download a PDF product brochure. And they were available at your convenience, 24/7/365. All of this was available to you anytime you wanted this information. But there was no back-and-forth, give-and-take, here’s my opinion or my experience. There was no need for it and there was no place for it.

Today, the purchasing public takes a much more active role in the products they want and like. Consumers want to communicate with other consumers when they are making a purchase decision. They want to communicate directly with a company if they have a problem or have a question when they are making a purchase. FAQs, emails and requests to the company for information were fine when the technology was at a point that would only accommodate those methods. But we are beyond that kind of communication right now. People want answers now. When they tweet, they are looking for an answer or help within the next 20 minutes. The purchasing public wants to have the conversation and the relationship that previously did not exist. And they have more control than ever, in making sure the way a product, company or brand represents itself, is the truth.

Be Real—The Brand

In this vein, the purchasing public really relies on a brand and what they have been told about that brand in the marketing put forth by the presenting company.

  • What does the brand mean?
  • What does the brand stand for?
  • What am I getting when I purchase this brand?
  • Will it live up to the information they gave me about the brand?
  • Is it reliable?
  • Am I getting the value that has been advertised to me by the presenting company?
  • Am I getting what I paid for? (This doesn’t necessarily mean inexpensive. People are willing to pay if they are getting what they expect.)

Be Real—Your Communications

The same holds true in your communications with the purchasing public. When communicating with the public, whether it’s through various social media methods like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or LinkedIn or any other method, people don’t want to hear company jive or spin. Remember, social media is about conversations and relationships. 

  • They want the truth.
  • They don’t want to hear the “company line”.
  • They want their questions answered honestly.
  • They want to know the person on the other end of the line really cares.
  • They don’t want standard answers.
  • They want a “real” conversation.
  • They want a “real” relationship.
  • They want the brand to be represented truthfully.

In today’s world, we have such easy access to information. We can easily learn about a brand that interests us. Through blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other social media, we can easily have a relationship with the company of that brand, where in the past, this was not the case. As a result of this access, the consuming public wants these conversations with the companies who own the brand of their interest. They know everything about the brand and really study the brands they like. And the owners of these brands utilize the easy access to information by communicating their brand via these various methods of marketing. They highlight all the positives about their brand through these more personal communications. The relationship between the consumer and the brand/company is much more personal than ever before. This raises the stakes for marketers and holds them to a higher standard than expected in the past.

Be real when you are making brand decisions.  

  • Your brand must live up to the expectations you created.
  • It cannot be a lie.

 Be real when you “talk” to your customers.

  • The purchasing public wants to hear what you really think and not the company line.
  • Nurture real relationships because your customers want to trust you.
  • When you are truthful, you will have natural advocates of your products and company. No convincing will be necessary.
  • Today, customers want conversations and relationships with you. It’s imperative that you are truthful in these conversations and relationships.

This is why, in my opinion, the live case-study of the Tiger Woods brand is still in the news. Yes, I admit that part of it is the fact people love scandal. But I really feel the larger, overriding factor of this whole thing is the fact that people, the purchasing public, feel betrayed. Tiger Woods, the brand, lied to them. Tiger Woods, the brand, was not real.

Two words—Be Real.