Tech vs. Authenticity – It doesn’t have to be either/or

By Brad Woodward

I was recently asked to be a panelist at an Advertising Federation luncheon where the topic was “The Future of Tech In Advertising.”

I jumped at the chance because I have an addiction to technology and have helped fund more kickstarted tech than I would be comfortable talking about. I have also been a professional marketer/advertiser for the last 8 years, so it seems I was perfect for the panel.

We talked about wearables.

We talked about people adapting to tech, and tech adapting to people.

We talked about the future of customer/brand relationships.

We even talked about romantic relationships with tech.

So, we covered a lot.

Interestingly, there was one consistent theme: Authenticity. All of these topics came back around to that one key characteristic. How, in such a digital age, can brands relate authentically with their consumers? How can we, as branding professionals, create strategy powered by tech that will nurture – rather than depersonalize – the relationships our clients have with their customers?

We need to use tech to build better relationships with our customers, yet too often tech only distances them. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here are a few strategies to keep in mind when utilizing tech in branding. I’m convinced that if we follow these strategies, the future (or at least the next year) will be filled with better, more authentic brand relationships.

Talking to actual people, not bots, is a great way to build a relationship.
Find a customer service software tool that works for you. Build a customer service team that is true to your brand. If you’re a small brand, be honest about hours and response time, but make sure you respond. Social media has already become a de facto customer service channel, so whoever is running your social media needs to be prepared. And prepared doesn’t mean, “Contact our customer service at 800-123-4567”. Make it easy for your customers to get their questions answered.

Use (great) video to fill in the spaces.
Video technology will continue to get more sophisticated with 360 and 3/4D, the ability to choose your own adventure, and real-time feedback. But the everlasting and most important aspect of video is storytelling. There are tutorials and how-to videos, and then there are videos that educate AND entertain. Think about investing in a video that people will want to watch AND share – a video that will give the consumer a full breakdown of information AND make them laugh.

Give the gift of relevant, targeted content (because not everyone is the same).
Spend time understanding your audiences and their differences. If you can, use a marketing automation software tool to help deliver different messages/content to the different segments you serve. It can’t be a “sell”; it has to be a gift—something that will help your customer be better informed and entertained.

These are just three simple strategies to consider, and depending on your situation there are bound to be many more. The key is this: When you’re evaluating opportunities to integrate tech into your marketing, make sure you’re asking the one big question: “Will this bring me closer to my customers?” If you can ensure the answer will be “yes”, then it’s a good bet you’re doing something authentic.

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