I know people may think, “Hey I’m real, isn’t everyone real?” In the digital age and even before that, companies and brands have been portrayed as having human traits. They were your friend, thoughtful, fun, or serious. The fact is they are none of those things, that….. is just marketing. With social media, things are changing. Most companies are either trying to ignore the power of social media, or they are trying to use it like a marketing channel instead of a communication and relationship management tool. There is great power for both companies and individuals in being ‘real’. We are going to explore that here.

People desire to connect and relate – The reasons brands fake personal traits is because people want to connect with people not objects. There is a security and curiosity that comes from connecting with others that also helps us understand and discover ourselves. People are more interesting than products because we are people and like attracts like. This is why endorsements, TV, stories, and group influence work. We are searching to connect.

Brands are Ideas – I start at the epicenter of all businesses…. an idea. Your brand is a collection of elements in the mind of the consumer. Some of those you put there with marketing, and some brand perceptions are out there and you don’t even know they exist. Some may be what their friend thinks of your product or service, or the context and association they made when they first saw your brand or anytime along the way. Your brand has perception barnacles. Brands gather perceptions in peoples minds as they travel through the market. This perception of your brand is reality in the minds of those people. People collect perceptions to create an idea they can remember. Great brands start with great ideas. Ideas worth talking about. Many people and businesses don’t really know what the idea behind their brand is. Marketing becomes makeup on a pig. or Legos that are not connected and don’t represent anything other than a pile of parts.

To tap into your true brand you need to get clear on the idea behind your brand. If you don’t know, your prospects can’t know, or worse they will decide for you. People are constantly making perceptions about your brand. Are you influencing those or not? From there you need to understand the human connection with your prospects. This is where things get real. It is hard to be real if you’re not genuine. This is when your brand perception will be consistent. The closer to your brand people get, the more they will know if it is real or not. The story of Pinocchio is a perfect illustration of the problem most modern marketing has. The first question you have to ask is,”Am I Real?”, start on that journey of self discovery first. Once you know you’re real, you can shout and tell everyone about it.

Digital Storytelling

Marketing to Tell Stories – People talk about the power of telling stories. These are indicators of what is wrong with marketing. The short-term thinking is lost in the noise, and forcing people to feel something in the moment and take action is like bumping into someone to steal their wallet. Some companies and marketers have mastered this. “Hide your wife, hide your kids, hide your husbands, cuz they raping everybody out here” Telling stories creates context, but many people haven’t cared because they just want to produce a result. Stories would need to be created if they didn’t already have them. Great brands have stories, because they know the idea behind their product or service and can tell the story and be real about it.

Reality TV works because as The Real World said, “things are about to get real”.  If you want to be entertained, you don’t need a script and acting classes. You just need a camera, the world is full of drama, humor, good guys, and bad guys. With the rise of reality TV, casting was able to replace script writing. People were attracted to it because it was real. The same holds true for UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) and mixed martial arts. I remember the feeling I got watching the first episodes before it was what it is today. I thought, “This is crazy, there are no rules and they are just going to see what happens when the two guys go into a cage.” It was real, and reality attracts us. The fact that you can Tweet to a celebrity in real time while watching a TV show and they might respond is exciting and has never been possible before now.

The Unseen Effect of Relationships – Companies for a long time have had no interest in relationships. They have interest in sales, and the lifetime value of a customer minus customer acquisition cost. What value is there in relationships? I can tell you personally, I think it is everything. Relationships are sales and more. Relationships shape your life, from the person deciding to hire you, fire you, marry you, listen to you, buy your product, or even hate you. It is all about relationships (sorry, not the Benjamins).

Some of the unseen elements of relationships are trust, perception, and loyalty. Relationships can impact these things for good or for bad. Trust is needed to transact, and even to hear. Some people may listen to you, but if they don’t trust you, they won’t hear what you want them to hear. Perception is altered by relationship. This is why a personal referral will trump other choices. The information given by someone you trust, changes the perception of that information. Loyalty in a world of choices, noise, and distraction is golden. Loyalty is based on relationship.

Digital hand

Humans behind, Humans in Front – Marketing is created by humans to invoke a human reaction towards products and services. What start from humans, with the design for humans, is then transmitted through marketing. But many times it loses contact with the human touch. This is like throwing a ball at people. The human was part of the process early but then the ball or non-human element is what reaches the other person. Brands should learn to hand the ball to their prospects and not throw marketing at them. There is a power in connection that is lost in mass marketing. Social media has for the first time in history offered companies the ability to reach out and connect, engage, and hand their products to their customers. If only they will seize this great opportunity and show themselves real.

I think it is a compelling topic and would love to hear your thoughts. We have a full 30 minute talk on this subject on our Youtube Channel as well as videos on each section. Thank you for your time, go be awesome![/fusion_text]