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In recent years, the word authenticity has become the smart marketer's approach to building customer loyalty, and for good reason.
The truth is – people are fed up with companies producing perfectly polished brand images, well-crafted press releases, and corporate statements that sound like a publicist wrote them. They are tired of some companies ignoring or lying about the reality of their business (toxic jobs, unfair wages and poor working conditions for factory workers).
In reality, customers today have become more savvy, sassy, and louder about what they expect (and often ask) of brands. This is one of the compelling reasons why smart brands lead with authenticity and not rely on them as a last resort.
As Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says, "Your brand is what others say about you when you are not in the room." To create a more influential brand that people will rave about (instead of scolding), here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when planning your marketing and communication campaigns.
Whether you're just starting a business or have been in business for decades, here are three ways to use authenticity to build customer loyalty in this day and age.
Similar: Why authenticity is an essential part of business success and how you can ensure it
Build trust with customers
First of all, authenticity naturally creates trust. As customers get a better sense of the people who run a business, they start to trust them more. Whether the message is from a brand founder or a social media marketing team, one of the keys to building trust with your customer base is to be open, honest, and transparent. Express your values, show your integrity, and share your beliefs in a way that reflects your brand identity.
For example, if you are manufacturing goods, consider posting Instagram stories that will take your audience on a “behind the scenes” tour of your factory. Show your customers that the factory has undergone a social responsibility audit and meets standards (for fair treatment of workers and safe working conditions). These are just some of the things that consumers care about as human rights have become an aspect that customers consider when deciding which brands to support.
Similar: Seven Ways To Naturally Build Consumer Trust
Create deeper connections
Another way to use authenticity in your marketing approach is to think about the person-to-person interaction.
Whenever your brand is launching a marketing campaign, posting on social media, or engaging with customers online, focus on building deeper connections with them. They want to know that you care about their needs, listen to their complaints, and value their feedback.
In earlier decades, companies marketed consumers like a one-way street. Most of the time, their leadership teams hid behind FAQ pages on websites and relied on call centers shielded by 1-800 numbers. But these days everyone is essentially a click away. This means that the power has shifted to make customers voice louder (which can be either an advantage or a burden to you, depending on what they are saying about your brand).
Smart brands use social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to actively engage with their audience. Instead of just constantly promoting and selling, their teams make sure they respond to comments and questions, answer angry complaints, and even spotlight enthusiastic fans (which makes them feel valued and recognized). As in any relationship, both sides need to feel valued and heard. So think of your online marketing approach as a two-way dialogue that creates deeper connections and more loyal customers.
Create a sense of humanity
Eventually, when you focus on authenticity as the centerpiece of your marketing efforts, you instill a sense of humanity. Whether your company donates to charity or is actively involved in a good cause, brands that care about humanity often go further than just for-profit brands in the eyes of consumers. A perfect example of this is TOMS, the shoe brand that has developed strong brand loyalty through its philanthropic business model.
Authenticity has become one of the most important aspects to incorporate into any marketing and communication strategy. The more effectively you can connect, listen, and relate to your customer base, the more loyal they will be. And we know that – is one of the keys to lasting business.
Related: Your reputation is a measurable and valuable asset