July 26, 2018 • Rick Beller
In today’s market, products and services quickly commoditize. Whether it is a simple consumer product or a more sophisticated business solution, differentiation based exclusively on features is insufficient to win new buyers.
In awareness of this fact, marketers are focused on elevating who they are as a complement to what they sell. But it is one thing to state your company’s values or claim trustworthiness, adaptability, or innovation, and another to build buyer belief.
A good maxim for customer acquisition is “past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.” By sharing relevant experiences that reinforce core characteristics such as stability, client-centricity, and integrity, marketers achieve differentiation in their overall value. This often marks the difference between winning and losing new customers.
“Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make but about the stories you tell,” says Seth Godin, a leading marketing expert. But not all stories are created equal. In today’s world of open information, storytelling can backfire if it is inaccurate or disingenuous. Content must be authentic, or else it presents risks.
Whether a firm is 200 years old or a recent startup, it has history. This inventory of experience can be mined, curated, made accessible, and applied to advance awareness and enhance the customer acquisition journey. Marketing based on true and relevant experiences—i.e., authentic content—is critical for driving buyer consideration and acquisition.
Authentic content can be delivered in diverse formats and deployed through many formal and informal buyer experiences. Whether the touchpoint is digital, physical or oral, the key is to pull something relevant from the organization’s history and express it in an engaging way. Here are some examples of authentic content in action.
Recently, Harley-Davidson used a novel mix of heritage and modernity in its “All for Freedom. Freedom for All.” video campaign, which targets the next generation of riders. Historic motorcycle footage educates viewers on Harley’s tremendous racing heritage. The video conveys that Harley-Davidson has been an American icon for over a century—with no gray-haired bikers in sight. It plays on the Harley homepage but also is featured on YouTube and other targeted media.
In 2017, attendees of TEDxCopenhagen were visited by Carlsberg founder J.C. Jacobsen. Why is this unique? Jacobsen has been dead for over 130 years. The 170-year-old brewery used authentic content and the latest technology to create a spectacle from beyond the grave.
Carlsberg tapped its deceased founder in a novel way, and it paid off. Nearly half of the tickets available for the event went to people with Carlsberg ties, including press, customers from key markets, and market influencers.
“The Legend of the Dodge Brothers” commercial highlights the automotive brand’s heritage of power and performance while pitting the brothers against one another in a competition. It’s an engaging story that links the founding character of the company to what inspires auto buyers today. Like Harley, Dodge is using imagery and characters from its past to educate and appeal to younger customers.
See Related: Adding Heritage to the Customer Experience
MillerCoors is making a resurgence among millennials by using Miller High Life’s history and heritage in an authentic way.
“The Champagne of Beers” has revived a popular jingle from the 1970s, “If You’ve Got the Time.” Instead of competing with microbreweries, High Life is using authentic content to stand apart and educate drinkers about its roots.
It’s all about “celebrating the authenticity that this beer and brand has stood for for over 100 years,” Ryan Marek, the director of the economy portfolio at MillerCoors, said in an interview with Business Insider.
Authentic content can be applied at strategic points during the customer acquisition process. This includes face-to-face meetings, presentations, proposals and marketing collateral. It’s critical to arm the sales team with stories that make tangible the intangible attributes of a company. For example, suppliers can elevate and differentiate their proposals and RFPs by including images or brief stories that highlight the historical relationship between the firms or their shared industry experiences. Or, in its collateral an organization can address its long-term evolution in response to industry shifts, to convey both its stability and its ability to continually innovate.
Marketers need to look for opportunities in their prospects’ journeys to share relevant experiences that reflect their values and character, not just what they sell. Those who don’t may find themselves in consideration but will fall short when it comes to winning new customers as well as building brand advocates.