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Top tip from a marketing PhD: Keep it Authentic!

Discussion in 'General Marketing' started by meholaman, May 7, 2013.

  1. #1
    Hey guys,

    (Skip to the next Bold bit to get to the meat of this) - One thing I've always liked here on DP is when people come on and write a short post to share their knowledge with fellow members. To me, that is one of the main strengths of this forum. So, having consumed a fair bit of my fellow members' knowledge over the years, I though I'd share some of mine.

    What qualifies me to write this? Well, graduated at the top of my year of some 350 marketing students as an undergraduate, and am well on my way towards earning a PhD in consumer research.

    Keeping it Authentic
    Having dipped my toes into this area of marketing and that, I finally found one that I think will be key not only for success today, but for success in the future, and that's keeping it authentic, and sincere. To quickly define these two, authentic means that something is real as opposed to fake, while sincere basically means honest. In order to really stand out today, you need to make those two words your religion. Let me tell you why: I'm going to start with a classic marketing example, and then tell you why and how it relates to online marketing. Skip to the next bold bit to get to that.

    If you're British, or familiar with our culture, you will have heard of the "death of the high street" (that is, the main shopping street in any town) for the past 20-odd years. The initial blow to the high street was when shopping malls and retail giants like Tesco opened monstrous mega-stores outside town, offering lower prices and free parking. With it's limited offerings, higher prices, lack of parking, and susceptibility to bad weather, the high street couldn't compare.

    Recently, however, mega stores are dying out. People don't do weekly shops anymore, but daily, and they don't want to eat the same things or look the same as everyone else. With globalisation the world is moving away from the homogenisation of society that was the hallmark of "modern" (industrial) society, and towards a heterogeneous society where individuality comes first.

    In short: people want to express themselves and their interests in their consumption. What do you think has driven the recent boom in artisan coffee places? Certainly not a flourishing economy that would allow for the increased expense, nor was there a lack of established competitors (Starbucks, Costa Coffee, and Caffe Nero, anyone?). What there was a lack of was cafés that reflected the genuine interest people developed in high quality produce - a group of coffee lovers emerged, and they wanted the business they dealt with to reflect their own authentic passion for coffee. Some, like Harris + Hoole, which is owned by Tesco, have tried to capitalise on this - the result? Customer outrage! Upon finding out that the seemingly "independent" and "artisan" coffee shop was owned by a retail giant, customers revolted en mass. But why? Simple: customers felt cheated as the "artisan" atmosphere was not authentic, nor had the company been sincere by hiding its true identity.

    In a world where every city centre has the same shops and restaurants (H&M, McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Starbucks) people feel a lack of authenticity of place. If everywhere looks the same, and everyone shops at the same place and experiences the same things, how can I, as a customer, express my individuality? How can the person serving me have the same passion for coffee that I do, when they are just grinding away under the whip of a corporate giant?

    Authenticity and Online Marketing
    To those of you who've made it all the way here, well done, and thank you! I suspect this is the bit most of you will be interested in. How does this concept of authenticity relate to marketing?

    Simple. Content has to be authentic! That doesn't mean you can't buy content on DP (well, as an old hand at content creation I would say that, wouldn't I!) but it does mean that you shouldn't just go for bulk writers who spew out tens of thousands of words for half a penny a piece.

    Content giants (Ezine and the like) were on to the right thing when they started. Search engines rewarded quantity, and internet users were often not savvy enough to know the difference between good content and bad, authentic information and spun lies. Increasingly, however, they are now, and sooner rather than later this will be evermore reflected in search engine results. Trust me.

    Ezine is like the Mega-store of yesteryear. They were almighty when they came, but as consumers grow wise of a certain channel and product, they start to look for niches that best fit them. Even Tesco, the mightiest retailer in the UK, is now buying up independent cafés, restaurants, bakeries and shops in order to acquire genuine authenticity - whether it will work or not is debatable, but the point remains that they've understood this: the world is no longer about bulk, it's about quality, and quality is all about offering authentic value.

    So how can you be authentic in online marketing, exactly?
    Simple:
    • Focus on a niche that you know well.
    • Build your website organically - don't be tempted to acquire bulk content in order to speed up your growth. Part of being authentic is "working your way up" and having genuine roots.
    • Don't pander to the masses - pander to the people who share your passion, and build a community around them.
    • Get personal - make your content a true reflection of you, and be personable. Don't adopt a fake persona, they will see through it sooner or later.
    That's about it for now. If people like this, I'll happily expand on it later. Thanks for reading!
    meholaman, May 7, 2013 IP
    Nigel Lew likes this.
  2. webcosmo

    webcosmo Notable Member

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    #2
    It`s pretty much the truth about today`s marketing AND SEO trends. Nice writing btw. Thanks for posting!
    webcosmo, May 7, 2013 IP
  3. Nigel Lew

    Nigel Lew Notable Member

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    #3
    Without splitting hairs about what is marketing vs. what is advertising, I tend to agree I just have a different set of vocabulary to define said concepts. I am more truth in advertising/marketing and some curious economic principles about scarce vs. infinite goods. And, lots of stuff from techdirt.com about fans/customers and how to connect with them and provide them with a range of collateral reasons to buy something.... think the experience for example.

    Less a few exceptions like super bowl commercials and a ripping good HP commercial from about 8 years ago(will try to find it) marketing and advertising for the last decade has been complete shit across the board. Nothing is inspired, no one takes a real risk or tries to say anything anymore. If they do, they totally blow it... here is a prime example http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20...its-awful-suicide-ad-disappear-internet.shtml

    I am not even going to get into that one.

    At the end of the day no one should be able to even intimate that they are in marketing or advertising unless they have watched this, and more noteworthy grasped the ideas and further, stuck their head as far up George Lois ass as humanly possible.


    Found a ripping good interview with him last week

    I would suggest watching art and copy first for those who are actually willing to try and make a statement and sell some stuff in the process.

    phew.. man I get worked up about this stuff lol... I am always sending these to my brand related clients so you may have to start the videos from the beginning.
    Nigel
    Last edited: May 7, 2013
    Nigel Lew, May 7, 2013 IP
  4. Nigel Lew

    Nigel Lew Notable Member

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    #4
    wow cool, I didnt know I could embed videos.. Nicely done DP. Hopefully more folks will watch them now and quit clogging up the tubes with nonsense.

    Ok I admit, this is pretty good..


    Nigel
    Last edited: May 7, 2013
    Nigel Lew, May 7, 2013 IP
  5. Nigel Lew

    Nigel Lew Notable Member

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    #5
    Bummer! looks like The One Club needs a lesson in marketing themselves. I will post another shortly. And, if any of you rubes from TOC would like to know how to distribute and market useful social matters such as Art & Copy, without being asshats, feel free to drop me a note.

    Ok here we go..
    http://documentarystorm.com/art-and-copy/

    Nigel
    Last edited: May 7, 2013
    Nigel Lew, May 7, 2013 IP
  6. Nigel Lew

    Nigel Lew Notable Member

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    #6
    I would actually be quite interested in some suggested reading meholaman. Is there anything jumping out at you that was particularly inspiring?

    Nigel
    Nigel Lew, May 8, 2013 IP
  7. affilorama

    affilorama Active Member

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    #7
    Thanks for sharing! I liked that bit about quality. It's the standard now. If you want your site to rank, you need quality content, and quality links.
    affilorama, May 8, 2013 IP
  8. meholaman

    meholaman Active Member

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    #8

    Hey Nigel,

    Cheers for the suggested watching! I don't have the time to spare right now, but they've been added to favourites. So far as suggested reading goes, that depends on the angle from which you'd like to approach the topic. There aren't many journal articles worth reading on the subject, unfortunately, but I've read two books recently, both of which had some fairly good ideas in them.

    "Authenticity" by David Boyle: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Authenticity-Brands-Fakes-Spin-Lust/dp/0007179642/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1368023855&sr=1-3&keywords=authenticity

    That particular books gives an easy-to-digest view of why authenticity will be key in virtually all areas of marketing and consumer experience not just now, but in the future.

    If you'd like one that comes at it from the perspective of an advertising viewpoint (written by an old hand in the advertising game), I'd recommend that you take a look at "The New Marketing Manifesto" by John Grant: http://www.amazon.co.uk/New-Marketing-Manifesto-Successful-Essentials/dp/1587990245/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1368023972&sr=1-2&keywords=the+new+marketing

    While the book first came out well over a decade ago, I would argue that the majority of the ideas within it hold more value today than ever before. That said, some of his statements and I wouldn't necessarily agree with, but for the more part, he's spot on.
    meholaman, May 8, 2013 IP
  9. meholaman

    meholaman Active Member

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    #9

    Hello to both of you, and thanks for reading! I'm glad you found it worth your time. :) Affilorama, you're absolutely right - quality is king in all areas of marketing and product/service development today, and the key to the future will be to figure out how to provide high quality at low cost. That may sound impossible to the narrow-minded, but I suspect most people on this board will be able to think of more than one example. Facebook would be the most obvious one to come to mind! One of the best pieces of advice I've heard given recently with regards to building a successful blog was to "give as much as you can, give until it hurts, then give some more."
    meholaman, May 8, 2013 IP
  10. Nigel Lew

    Nigel Lew Notable Member

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    #10
    Cool thanks! I don't really care if they are textbooks you had to endure. I bounce around a lot in terms of what I find amusing here ranging from art history to really dry metric sorta stuff. To my dismay I can't even look at a stop sign any longer without thinking about marketing or selling something.

    I think I am doomed lol.. thanks for the response. Your post makes a ton of sense.

    You will love the vids as well. I am a bit surprised George Lois wasn't mandatory reading at your level of things or at some point at least. That said, everyone in art and copy are basically the pioneers and the top 5 or so firms EVER. An interesting corollary though, from a social and political perspective things were much different in the early 70's etc.

    thanks again, I will probably keep this post alive for a while as things pop into my head. I have to actually get some stuff done today.

    Nigel
    Nigel Lew, May 8, 2013 IP
  11. SERPpoint

    SERPpoint Active Member

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    #11
    I would say that there is no new idea, it is all about fulfilling demand of consumers, you have to know what consumers want.. in online marketing, there are different types of consumers you have to know their desire to do business with them.
    SERPpoint, May 8, 2013 IP