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Dove Direct Print & Marketing Blog - “Branding - Why Authenticity Trumps Being Everywhere”

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Welcome to the Dove Direct Print and Marketing Blog. Today’s post, “Branding - Why Authenticity Trumps Being Everywhere” examines a marketing and branding premise which suggests that brands need to be ‘everywhere’ in an effort to build the brand as opposed to a brand being authentic with marketing offerings. Building a brand is one thing, however; creating brand loyalty is a quite another endeavor.

To begin with, the term ‘being everywhere’ in today’s marketing context promotes the idea of a marketing strategy where the brand is committed to investing in all the marketing channels available to them. That ranges from traditional media to online media.

The term, ‘everywhere marketing’ has arisen out the fact that the online internet community offers a wide berth of marketing and advertising channels. Further, the everywhere concept is also suggesting that due to consumers hanging out in their preferred social media channels, brands needs to have a presence on all of them, in an attempt that mass marketing can be achieved via this approach.

Marketers and brands will most likely shudder at the idea of spending dollars across every medium for a sustained amount of time.  Therefore, unless a brand has the cash reserve to invest in the mass marketing necessary to be ‘everywhere’ for a sustained amount of time, being everywhere for the most part will not be  sustainable for most brands.  That said, for the majority of brands that everywhere idea on the surface sounds wonderful.  Imagine being everywhere a potential client may be hanging out!

Clutter is on the Rise

Back in 2008 through 2014 or thereabout, the number of brand impressions averaged between 3,000 to 4,500 per day, depending on which data set marketers were eliciting. Keep in mind those messages were what the average consumer was exposed to during that time frame. Fast forward to today, according to the American Marketing Association (AMA), consumers on average are now bombarded with up to 10,000 messages per day.

That said, it becomes easily understandable why the push for the everywhere marketing strategy is gaining traction and why the everywhere concept has been pushed to the top of most marketers strategies. Yes, the marketing waters are now crowded more than ever, and it has become increasingly difficult for brand messages to break through.

In an effort to provide insight into how to approach the 10,000 brand message onslaught, there are some concepts that should yield favorable ROI results. For one, brands and marketers should reassess the ‘own’ all marketing channels concept with the invasive advertising tactic, based on shouting deals louder than the rest, and with more frequency.  A quote from marketing consultant Jay Baer’s book “Youtility” quotes; "You can't survive by shouting the loudest and relying solely on anachronistic interruption marketing. You can't proclaim you're featuring the 'biggest sale ever!' every day."

The Everywhere Concept is Set for Failure

Before the rise of internet technology where brands and marketers could buy a ton of television advertisements for mass marketing, consumers had no recourse to weigh in, with either praise or condemnation about a brand, products and/or services. Consumers are in the driver’s seat now. The mass marketing everywhere tactic no longer works to the satisfaction of marketing initiatives. With personalization being the current best practice mechanism that can present brands with the opportunity to establish relationships with consumers, it is now the key tactic to move forward. In case brands and marketers have forgotten, consumers continue to be drawn to brands that care about their interests.

Authenticity Rules

Personalization as a marketing tactic works best when the messaging is authentic. Consumers can sniff "b.s." a mile away and avoid being directly sold to. Instead, consumers are in the habit of selling themselves. For example, in the B2B world, B2B buyers are 90% along the sales funnel information gathering journey before they ever contact a sales person. For that matter, the entire market of both B2C and B2B purchasers have demonstrated their penchant for information gathering prior to contacting an establishment to move forward.

Further, consumers have become increasingly interested in identifying with brands that share their values and/or opinions. This goes way beyond politics, although political affiliations matter now more than ever. That said, authenticity can also breed contempt, and in some cases, being authentic and real about an opinion could be labeled as controversial.

In addition, the oxymoron of controversial authenticity is the ability to balance weighing in on controversial subject matters in a positive light. Consumers tend to have respect for brands that wade into controversial territory as a result of controversial messaging. The key to generating likable consumer responses from brands opting to weigh in on controversial subject matter depends significantly on the brand's ability to share its values within the messaging.

In fact, former Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz states from his book, "Pour Your Heart Into It," a pearl of wisdom in that; ”Mass advertising can help build brands, but authenticity is what makes them last. If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand."

At the end of the day, it’s better to garner the respect of consumers that share similar opinions as opposed to worrying about losing out to those who end up opposing the brand’s opinions. Those opinion dissenters were most likely never going to become a brand enthusiast, let alone a brand loyalist.

Know Your Audience

A consistent theme that resonates in the marketing community is and has been, “know your customer.” Gaining an understanding of what your potential prospects are really interested in goes a long way toward converting them into customers.  Beyond the usual demographic and psychographic research most effective marketers provide, is the next step to uncovering their needs and identifying what makes them uncomfortable.

For example, a brand may discover that among a group of targeted prospects, that only a handful of them actually align with the brand’s opinions and the authentic messaging approach the brand has put forward. At that point, the ongoing marketing messages to these folks should be focused on each one, and if necessary, market to that one person, individually. After all, personalization is one-to-one marketing.

Solving Problems

As opposed to outright selling, a brand’s ability to solve problems for consumers weighs heavily on the odds for success. Solving problems actually helps convert prospects in to becoming brand enthusiasts. Therefore, instead of focusing on always selling, brands should redirect that focus into always helping. Brands that exude helpfulness win more clients. In short, being helpful closes more sales over and above selling. Jonathan Lister, VP of sales solutions at LinkedInIn gave a speech at Content Marketing World 2013, in which he stated, "As marketers, we should be changing the mantra from always be closing to always be helping.”

The Human Factor

With so many marketing technological offerings on the market, ranging from marketing automation, to intelligent bots, to machine learning and AI, all becoming fused into the “Internet of Things (IoT); consumers are building a wall against non-human marketing activities. In fact, the face of a brand has always been depicted as a person that interacts with consumers.

At the end of day, brands need to connect, interact and converse with consumers via real people….real people representing the brand. Consumers are looking for conversational engagement above all the digital automated software beckoning them for responses. In short, people buy from people and have always done so; not so much from a robotic artificial replacement, although the digital automated tools do help to connect with people.

Therefore, it is imperative for brands to establish and define their values so that prospects are able to either align themselves with the brand or discard the brand due to value misalignment. An excerpt from Gary Vaynerchuck’s book, "The Thank You Economy," states, "A strategy of caring usually out-shines tactics, but when they're used with the right intent, tactics can help a brand achieve greatness."

The Net-Net

Brands and marketers that make the effort to offer authenticity and are able to engage in controversial subject matter with respect and caring are increasing the odds of converting new prospects into paying customers. Additionally, those brands that can also offer a human connection fueled by personalized conversations also add a great probability to converting prospects into brand evangelists. Enjoy Focusing on Authenticity’s Best Practices!

Let’s have a conversation about direct mail strategies, printing, print software, transactional documents, variable digital printing, brand equity and unified marketing collateral during our next Open House. We invite you to join us on Thursday, August 30th, 2018, for an hour or two, anytime between 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. Let us show you how to improve your document processes to optimize your workflow, reduce your costs, and maximize your organization’s printing, letter shop and mailing capabilities. Dove Direct does have an official USPS certified bureau located within our offices that will save you time and money. And, if you bring us your files, we will create a demo file for you. For more information call Carla Eubanks at 404-629-0122 or email Carla at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Dove Direct, your Atlanta based print and mail solutions provider offers organizations end-to-end data, printing and mailing solutions: Data Management, Variable Digital Printing, LetterShop and Fulfillment, Fully Automated MLOCR Presort Bureau, Marketing and Production Management Support and Secure Data Life Cycle Management.

If you don't want to wait for the Open House, you can reach Dove Direct today by calling 404-629-0122 or use the contact form for Dove Direct.

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Leland Hicks is the CTO of MatterMax Media, a digital marketing agency that provides business strategy, web design, social media management and training.  He can be reached at lahicks@mattermaxmedia.com