What does it mean to be authentic? When pondering this notion, these words come to mind: genuine, legitimate, true, organic, trustworthy, reliable, and transparent. The common thread, and really the essence of this string, is personal trust and connection. It’s the difference between seeing a flat, one-dimensional image of two people having a conversation on a billboard in the sky, and feeling personally drawn-in, engaged, in a tangible way that makes the customer a part of that conversation. This is the start of what makes an authentic brand.
More than anything, people want to be a part of something real and personal. Everyone wants to feel connected. This is particularly true of Millennials, and let’s face it, Millennials are a huge segment of the market. Does anyone really want a company selling them something? Or would they rather feel like they’re interacting with an old friend, gathering information about a valuable product they need or a service they could really use? The answer is clearly the latter. Making strides toward becoming a more authentic brand are key to your business’ success. Recent reports indicate that Millennials are drawn to digital channels like vendor websites, search engines and social networks, and that video is the top preference. Is there any wonder why? Of course not. Those are the places everyone interacts and perceives palpable, personal connections.
There are three tools you can consider right now that will not only improve and engage your relationship with current customers, but will also expand your base by attracting potential new customers to your brand.
Consumer attention spans these days are entirely short-lived. There’s no better way to quickly grab the attention of and captivate your audience than with good storytelling. The thing about a brilliant story is that it connects. Good storytelling engenders trust, which delivers transparency—all wrapped up with a pretty little bow.
From ancient times, stories have been our way of communication, and our method of preserving information for future generations. A good story suspends us in time, employs all our senses, and teaches us some basic lesson or reveals an actuality. A successful story is thought-provoking. Whether it’s about history, morality, philosophy or psychology, we are touched, emotionally drawn in, and connected to a truth. This is why we fall in love with books and the stories they have to tell, and this is exactly why they are so powerful. For many of these same reasons, successful brand storytelling, imbued with emotion and spoken with a central focus, will quickly reveal the persona behind the brand. Identifying that voice is like an introduction to a friend—a friend we want to get to know. Keep your unique and compelling story forefront in your customer’s mind and you’ll quickly start to form the identity of a more authentic brand.
Live Streaming (Live=In-the-Moment)
While compelling storytelling engages all the senses and imbues your brand with emotion, the human element connected to the in-the-moment/real-time aspect of live streaming aids even more to becoming a more authentic brand. With the launch of live streaming in big social networks, we’ve all seen first hand how live streaming promotes consumer engagement. Live streams invite the consumer to come right on in, offer a seat on the sofa along side of your brand, and encourage an open dialogue by method of comments and feedback. Now that is intimacy.
Think about how live streaming in times of difficulty or challenge could impact your brand. Let’s imagine that your company is a large organic food distributor, and that your supply chain has been significantly disrupted due to flooding of farms where your food is sourced. How do you relay all that means, and effectively illustrate your response to that disaster to your customers? Live stream, that’s how. Perhaps you even live stream from one of your flooded food source locations. Unscripted, unfiltered and unedited, you’ve just personally touched thousands at once. Or, let’s say you are a big airline dealing with a huge snow-storm. Think about how live streaming your safety response plans could instantly ease the frustrations of your customers. Transparency, authenticity. Check, check.
Live streaming isn’t only for times of disaster or social media. From product launches to influencer briefings to corporate events, integrating live streaming video into your business strategy can carry a big punch. Live streaming your event can reduce production costs while increasing your audience, giving your brand a public platform from which your company message can be viewed live, from any place in the world. These live video interactions start a conversation with and engage customers.
Customer Experience (Genuine Communication=Happy Customer)
Ultimately, the goal of every company is to have happy customers. You want customers that aren’t merely satisfied, but that are thrilled with your brand, product, or service. One of the best ways to achieve positive customer experience is through genuine communication. Effective communication, transparency and open dialog bring authenticity. Use that two-way exchange to encourage customer feedback, and, once received, respond. By listening to your customer’s feedback, you have an excellent gauge of what you are getting right and what you aren’t. How else will you know where improvements need to be made? And how will you identify the areas your company is excelling unless you open discourse and really hear what customers have to say? It is this organic communication that builds personal trust. This is what leads to a positive experience, resulting in a genuinely happy customer.
This big, wide world of ours teaches us more and more every single day just how interconnected we all truly are. It’s time you start thinking about ways to embrace and engage these connections, and use them to your company’s advantage. Build trust by opening up. Get a little personal, and show your customers the face and voice behind your brand. Initiate the conversation, invite your customers in, and allow them to get to know you a little. These interactive experiences will go a long way toward fostering relationships, generating well-pleased customers, and creating a more authentic brand. That’s worth the effort.