If anecdotal evidence is anything to go by, the two generations with the most disposable income to spend are Millennials and Gen Z. Basically, those under the age of about 37 have money to spend. Older than that and they’re drowning in expenses, debt and retirement funding. But these youngsters don’t have the same responsibilities yet. They’re the ones your marketing efforts need to appeal to. And the one thing both these groups hate? Inauthenticity.
Young people crave authenticity. They don’t want to see forced marketing messages, evidence of older marketers desperately trying to speak their language. Interestingly, the 2017 Sunday Times Generation Next youth marketing conference, which took place recently, pointed to the importance of authenticity. Speaking at the conference, Catherine Bothma, MD of HDI Youth Marketeers, the agency that conducts the annual study, highlighted the essential commandments of marketing to the youth. Most important of those, she said, were honesty and authenticity, availability and accessibility.
So, what can your brand do to become more authentic?
While it may seem a little inauthentic to plan and cultivate authentic brand messaging, it is highly recommended. Sadly, authentic marketing often doesn’t happen organically. Here are some tips for really nailing it.
This one is tough because you either have it or you don’t. If you’re naturally about as empathetic as a notebook, steer clear of this one. But if you can share your stories and passions, goals and dreams with your audience, do it! They’ll appreciate being made to feel part of your story. After all, the best way to be thought of as authentic, is to actually be authentic.
There’s not much that’s more confusing to your audience than mixed messaging. One day your brand’s serious and the next, it’s humorous. That just doesn’t work and your audience will be so confused. They’ll be left to wonder if you can be trusted.
Your audience wants to communicate with you. And they want to do it in the ways they’re most comfortable. That means they want to text you and send messages on social media. They probably can’t handle the thought of having to phone a brand (ugh) and having to speak to a person (eww).
It’s one thing being responsive to your audience, but if you aren’t being accountable, you might as well not bother. Are you really taking into account what they’re saying? Are you really making the changes they suggest?
Your audience loves free sh*t. Who doesn’t? Reward your audience with regular giveaways. This’ll keep your audience active and engaged, particularly on social media. And at a time when everyone is battling to be noticed due to algorithm updates, active engagement is crucial.
Being authentic is about marketing to people. Do your research and get to know your audience, understand what they value and what's important to them. You don't always have to be the first to follow a trend or even to join in on following a trend just because others are doing so. It's incredibly likely that you'll lose both potential and loyal customers in the process.
And this is not just a trend. This is not something which can be shrugged off. Being open and honest with your audience is always going to be key to your success.
*This article was previously published on Media Update.