Is your brand too corporate?


With 40% of the world’s population using the Internet, and an increase in online business, no question, digital marketing reaches customers. But there might be a problem. Does it run the risk of losing its personal appeal?

Here’s what happens. A business gets excited about online marketing, jumps in, follows the process, and carries out all the right tactics.

They understand “digital.” They understand “marketing.” But they are missing the warm-and-fuzzy soul of marketing – that person-to-person connection.

When you dig deeper into digital marketing, you begin to realise that no amount of tactics, budget, techniques, or innovation will acquire  customers unless you successfully connect on a personal level.

So, how can you make your digital marketing more personal? Here are our tips:

Know your market.

The better you understand your market and your customer, the more personally appealing your marketing is likely to become. To make your marketing personally appealing understand consumer buying behaviour. This can include some of the following:

Customer demographics – as well as market size and share, gender, age, income, education, and occupation of your customers.
Customer psychographics – a profile of a potential customer based on behaviour, life cycle and propensity modelling. Some also refer to this as “look alikes”.
Create a persona – Your marketing persona is a real working model of the target customer.
Create surveys for your customers – A good survey will give you personal insights into your customers, allowing you to shape your marketing accordingly.
Meet with your customers in person – your customers are your business, but you’ll never truly understand them unless you meet them. Yes, that means in person and face to face. Customer and sponsored events allow you to do this.

Have a personal brand spokesperson.

Real people connecting with real people is the only way your digital marketing can become truly personal. The voice of your content needs to be human, understandable, approachable, intimate, and down-to-earth. Your online marketing should be carried out by real people with names and identities, writing, posting, blogging, or emailing customers. This can be your “spokespeople,” “CEO”, “marketing managers,” or “content creators” etc.

A great example of this is LearnVest, a personal finance site that provides online financial planning. The startup quickly became a thought-leader in the finance industry — and this is in part due to their very successful content strategy and their spokesperson Founder and CEO Alexa Von Tobel.

In the crowded personal finance category, LearnVest initially drew attention based on the decision to focus on women as a customer segment. This helped distinguish the site, attracted investors, and it made Von Tobel a media figure expert on women, budgets, and the psychology of spending and saving.

Von Tobel has appeared on countless TV shows and magazine lists including Forbes “30 Under 30: America’s Coolest Young Entrepreneurs,” Vanity Fair’s “Next Establishment” index, Marie Claire’s “18 Women Changing the World.” She has a monthly money column in Cosmopolitan. Her book, “Financially Fearless”, featured on the NY Times best seller list, coupled with her sold out national roadshows and book clubs across America.

LearnVest promotes their content consistently across all channels.  With daily emails, a steady flow of Tweets and Facebook posts, and blog features, they put themselves in all the places where their customers seek information. Not only is their content fun, helpful and interesting, it is so personal that I feel like Von Tobel is talking directly to me. As the central figure of her brand, it’s appropriate and natural for Von Tobel to carry out her marketing like this.

Now, you don’t need to be pushing out 10 content pieces daily – LearnVest’s content team consists of four editors, two editorial assistants, two senior designers and 50‑100 freelance writers and designers! – but it does need to be consistent and at least two to three pieces a week.

If your business doesn’t have a central figure, your existing customers can participate in personal marketing through guest posting. This technique has worked well at Crazy Egg and other companies, such as Hubspot.

Social media. Interact.

How personal is your social media? Here’s where a lot of social media gets twisted. Businesses use it as an advertising platform to push their products and services rather than as an interaction platform. If you’re going to use social media for its social purposes, then start interacting. Post, like, comment, share, post, favourite and get in touch with your customers personally.

Refer to your customers.

Loyal customers love to be recognised. When you connect individually with your customers, they will love you back. Use customer-directed methods such as thanking customers for retweets, publicly appreciating fans or followers, and directing your messages at a collective group. Customers tend to connect with businesses that acknowledge them, not as a transactional entity, but as a real person.

Use emotion.

Should you base your marketing on emotion? Absolutely! Humans are emotional creatures. We make decisions – especially purchasing decisions – using emotions. People don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons.

Marketers, take note. We often base our strategies on cold, hard data and clear-cut split testing results. For this reason, infuse emotion into your marketing through storytelling, excitement, action, problem-solving, education, relationships, and interaction.

Personalising your digital marketing isn’t just about retargeting, gathering data, and monitoring for social mentions. It’s about your brand acting creatively like a human being – outgoing, interactive, friendly, open, transparent, and authentic.

The moment you take down the digital facade of your brand, you’ll be able to connect with your customers in new and authentic ways. Try it!

Image: Jelena Jolic

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