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    4 Reasons Why Customers Should Be Your Brand Storyteller, Not You

    Let’s play a game. I tell you a fact, and you act surprised. Ready?

    Fact: Consumers don’t fully trust corporations.

    I know, I know. Shocking. But somehow brands still create elaborate marketing campaigns that don’t involve customers at all.

    I imagine {INSERT WELL KNOWN COMPANY NAME HERE} a marketing team meeting where everyone is coming up with their best ideas to sell their product. I can hear it now.

    “Oh, we should talk about all of these totally awesome product features!”

    “What if we get the CEO to talk about what the benefits are?”

    “Or, maybe we just write a blog post and increase our ad spend to get more traffic to the post!”

    Now, depending on the industry, some of these suggestions are solid tactics. However, there is a monumental piece that they’re not taking into consideration—the customer.

    You know, the person who buys the products and keeps the company in business?

    What if, as marketers, we were more reserved and allowed those people to communicate for us more frequently? The possibilities would be endless.

    There is a time and place for brands to tell their own stories and showcase their value props for the world to see. Your company should promote your story and humble beginnings on your “About Us” page. You should even brag about your brand to potential employees. However, if you’re spending your marketing dollars on ads that give six reasons why a consumer should choose your product, then you’re doing it wrong.

    There are countless reasons why customers should be the center of your marketing strategy, and every year the reasons get louder.

    1. People trust consumers (and even influencers), not companies

    Consumers are skeptical of businesses, so it’s not surprising that they trust influencers, peers, and even celebrities to give them sound advice on new products. Influencer marketing works because influencers build a loyal following with like-minded people who begin to trust them and their opinions. Followers believe the influencer has actually used the product they are promoting and found it to be from a reputable brand. To be clear, you should categorically send influencers sample products and ensure they are satisfied before asking them to promote you online. Customers understand products as the end user, not as the designer or product developer. This gives them the ability to market products to other users better than you can.

    A customer won’t say how your product led to 23 percent less time wasted or the ¼-inch nylon bristle paintbrush you just launched. They would talk about the time they could spend at their son’s baseball game or the extra date night with their spouse because your product made their life easier. They speak from their POV and don’t use all the product jargon that marketers have listed on their go-to-marketing strategy.

    2. Big brands use this strategy because it works

    I know what you’re thinking. It works because these brands are huge household names and can take risks on brand campaigns that aren’t centered around their value props. However, this marketing strategy is sound for any company. Brands like Tesla, Nike, and Airbnb have seen great success from shifting their marketing to a customer-focused strategy.

    Tesla’s full marketing strategy is essentially word-of-mouth. Their advertising spending is virtually non-existent—especially when compared to the competition. And my guess is they probably won’t find it necessary to increase that number anytime soon. Tesla began a referral program that rewarded customers for referring Tesla to their friends and family members, and it was wildly successful. That referral program led to one Tesla customer (really an evangelist) referring over 180 people to purchase a Tesla. This one customer brought in $16 million with $0 spent on advertising.

    It’s not just Tesla. If you’ve studied Nike’s marketing campaigns, you’ve probably noticed their ads never present product descriptions, unlike their competitors. Those brands will mention the comfort, style, and high-quality products they use to make the best product for XYZ. Never Nike.

    Nike focuses on the wearer: the athlete breaking down barriers, the kid who finally hits her half-court shot or learns to run for the first time. They’ve learned to talk about the people who believe in their brand and represent them in their marketing. Sure, they have access to thousands of celebrities and famous athletes to endorse their brand, but they also have run many successful campaigns with everyday people. The “Find Your Greatness” campaign in 2012 is one I remember most because there wasn’t one recognizable person in the series. Instead, a myriad of people who represented the entire country and every walk of life.

    This year, Airbnb made the bold move to cut their marketing spend by over 25 percent, mostly in performance marketing and instead focused on brand marketing. They launched their first global brand campaign, “Made Possible by Hosts” in Q1 2021 and have just reported their strongest earnings ever in Q3 2021. This campaign is fully focused on the people who use their service from both a business and leisure standpoint. This campaign depicts the average family vacation, solo trip, or adventure as shown through the lens of the traveler. I think they’re starting to get it.

    3. There’s long-term SEO value in customer-focused marketing

    Earlier, we talked about some of the places on your website where you could toot your own horn. One of those places is the About us page. Let’s talk about a page that many companies are unlikely to have: a Customer Reviews page. This page can be listed in many different ways, like Case Studies, Customer Reviews, or any variation of those, but essentially they are written or video reviews from customers or stories highlighting their successes or excitement about your products.

    Allowing customers to speak for your brand leads to more user-generated content and more engaged online followers. Adding reviews and case studies to your website can have a positive impact on your SEO. Having those videos on YouTube can also help you rank for certain keywords. And do you know what happens when you engage with happy (or angry) customers via social media? You show up in the SERP. When these are positive interactions, you should share them on your channels and find ways to add them to your website for bonus SEO juice.

    4. Word-of-mouth marketing still reigns supreme

    In a 2020 study, Kantar found that 93 percent of people trust their family and friends to be reliable sources when choosing a brand or service. Behind that, reviews and news platforms were up.

    What are the key learnings here? Marketing ads and campaigns aside, quality products and good service are still most important. If brands want the customer stories that lead to emotive marketing and truly share the impact of their company, it has to start with a good product.

    These days, every emotion that a company elicits appears somewhere online. Make it a pleasant emotion and a raving review that can help inspire your next marketing campaign. Turn those “Oh, we should talk about all of these totally awesome product features!” into, “I brought a list of customers who are doing amazing things with our products. Let’s see if any ideas spark by talking through those.”

    Uncover those stories, and share them.

    The post 4 Reasons Why Customers Should Be Your Brand Storyteller, Not You appeared first on Contently.

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