I had an illuminating conversation with a colleague today about the state of online marketing and being authentic in brand and web design projects.
Have you ever met a new person at a party and within a few minutes thought to yourself “I don’t really know them yet but they seem like a nice person”? Chances are that they were “being themselves” and were relaxed and personable.
At parties you met other kinds of people too. The brash show off who talks loudly to ward off the awkwardness of the moment. The tedious person who repeats the same same story at every party. The aloof person who acts cool and removed. A lot of the time these people, overwhelmed by the social expectations put on a persona that is not really them (not all the time though as there are always people you just don’t get on with). Chances are, if you got to know them a majority of them are lovely people too.
Our marketing needs to be authentic, a true reflection of our business personality
Marketing can suffer from similar issues. It’s all to easy to get caught up in what you think you should look like to the world. You look around at your competitors, thought leaders in your industry and big international brands and model your marketing, branding and content after what they are doing. They seem to be doing well, it works for them so it’ll work for me, right? Well not all the time actually.
That’s great if your business really is exactly the same as the people and businesses you model yourself off. But what if you are in a different country, does modelling yourself after a brash American company with a pushy sell sell sell message work for a New Zealand audience? Not all the time, no. What about cultural context, throwing in some Te Reo if its appropriate for your business and audience. What about telling the story of you and your team? After all your customers probably deal with you or your team at some point so why not tell them more about yourself.
5 reasons why I don’t like cliched headings
As an example, I personally feel that the click bait headlines popular with many marketing techniques for lead generation are getting pretty cliched. I’m sure you’ve seen them around the web; “5 tricks to fix your website today”, “The three things you need to know about building your next home”, “10 reasons to choose a qualified accountant”.
I don’t want to use them for Avoca Web Design because they just aren’t us. We’re currently developing some lead magnet material but it’s focus will be different, we’re more about empowering people to make the right choices online. Therefore we can’t just bang out a “5 things you can fix on your site today” document, there’s an inherent judgement that you the client are doing it wrong in that title and that just doesn’t sit comfortably with me. So we’ll do it differently, stay true to ourselves as a business and message the document in a more helpful language.
How many “faceless” pieces of marketing have you seen that left you with no real idea about the company behind the product. Where are they based? What do they care about? Why did they get into this business?
By looking at our website analytics, we have found that most clients who chose to contact us first look at the team page. They often don’t even bother to look at the work we have done. The moral of the story is that they care more about who we are than what we have done. After all in the web design business, they are going to be working closely with us so it makes sense that they would want to see if they like the look of us first.
So my advice to you is to be yourself, if you and your business are bold and brash, be proud about it and shout it from the rooftops. If you are warm and friendly then make sure that all your marketing material reflects that. If you and your business are elegant simple and clear then don’t go for cluttered design just because you think you need to cram every marketing message into your website. Distill the essential character of your business, be proud of who you are and communicate that with your audience.
Some tips on being authentic in your brand and web design projects
- Start with why! This is massive, you know what your business offers but have you really looked at why you do what you do? This book by Simon Sinek is a great read on this
- Get REALLY clear on your target audience. If you think your target audience is everyone then you’re going to need to relevuate. Who are the customers that give you the most revenue, who are the ones that bring you joy when you interact with them, who are you best positioned to help with you service or product? Knowing your target audience in detail can really help you get clear about what you need to say to them in your marketing or website content.
- Develop a voice for your business. Try and set a consistent tone that you are able to replicate across, written marketing, your website and on the phone. That way when someone calls you after looking at the website you are reinforcing the same impression they have already got of you.
- Be yourself. Don’t just impliment popular ideas, calls to action, marketing techniques without asking yourself “does this fit me and my business?”. Think about how it makes you feel, if you feel great about it then go for it, if you feel uncomfortable with a pop up in the middle of your page asking for someone’s email address then chances are it’s not a great fit. Every piece of your content combines to make an impression on your customer.