People have some trust issues with advertising. According to this Neilson report, only 6 in 10 people believe somewhat, or completely, in advertising. We believe in word of mouth, and even in consumer reviews, but when it comes to traditional and digital advertising, the relationship gets a bit more rocky.
A lot is changing in the marketing world, and this week’s guests, Kimm Lincoln and Brian Easter from the Nebo Agency, are taking a different approach. Nebo was founded in 2004 with a mission to serve the end user of the products they market. Nebo’s founders saw agencies that were out to game the system for short-term gains, without looking out for the best interests of either the customer or the consumer.
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This week we talk about how to humanize marketing, build trust, and, thereby, increase your marketing ROI.
Get to Know the End User
“The options that the consumer has are more vast. The consumer has more control. They’re more empowered, and they’re more skeptical of advertising,” says Easter, “And, I think as an industry, we’ve sort of done it to ourselves.” The industry has been dominated with looking at clicks, impressions and conversions, and has forgotten to look at the consumers as people. “We haven’t really taken a step back and said ‘here’s a mom, she has two kids, they’re in a poor income home, and this new car they’re going to buy, or this new television they’re going to buy, has an impact on their life.’” Consumers, explains Easter, are looking for genuine help as they make decisions about purchases.
Creating effective campaigns for today’s consumer requires taking the time to get to know their needs and their purchase process. It requires finding ways, across the campaign, to be where they are looking, when they are looking, with the information that they need. It’s a lot more than blasting a message.
Trust isn’t an easy thing to build, and when it has been damaged in a relationship it takes a lot of time and effort to restore. The relationship between advertiser and consumer is no different – and there’s definitely been some damage done. An organization called lab42 polled 500 consumers of varying demographics, and created an infographic titled “Does it really AD up?” (who doesn’t love a good pun) and they reported that 76% of respondents think that ads are somewhat exaggerated or very exaggerated, and 38% of respondents wish claims in ads were more accurate.
Forbes.com says that, “If brands want to build trust—the foundation for any relationship—brands need to individualize efforts, forming more personal relationships with individual consumers.”
In regards to building trust, Easter said, “I think first, there has to be a level of authenticity and goodwill.” As an agency, that means choosing your clients carefully. Easter explains that if Uber were to call asking for a campaign focusing on how great the company is with gender relationships, he’d turn them down. There’s work to do before that’s authentic. As a CEO, that means you need to get your ducks actually in a row before you run a big ad campaign featuring a bunch of lined up ducks. People see through it, and that’s where trust gets broken.
It’s important to know your values as well. What difference are you trying to make in the world? What are you about? What’s your purpose? Easter tells of Roy Spence and the work he did with Southwest Airlines. Southwest’s purpose was to democratize the skies. When they started, the percentage of people who had flown was relatively low, but with the purpose in line, the marketing was much easier. Easter says, “I think helping an organization find purpose is one of the first steps.”
Take Care of Your Team
Knowing your purpose helps you find your values, and it also helps you take care of your team, which is a key part of effective campaigns. Lincoln says, “Our purpose is to humanize a dehumanized industry. And not only does that impact how we approach our campaigns, it also impacts our culture. “
Culture is something the team at Nebo takes very seriously. Lincoln says, “I think the mistake that some people make is thinking that amenities equal culture. So, you got an agency, there’s beer, there’s dogs and there’s ping-pong tables. Every agency has those things. If you don’t have those things, you’re probably not an agency. But, culture is more than that. It’s the people.”
We talk about culture on the show a lot, and one of our main focuses is how to take the culture and values from platitude to reality. Here are a few tips we can take away from Nebo on keeping a great culture at the forefront:
- Put a lot of focus on transparency, and on developing a team. Take the time to ensure that each team member understands the values and purpose of the company, as well as supporting team members in setting their own goals. For Nebo, mentorship is a key focus.
- Find a way to consistently check in with your team. Nebo uses a software called officevibe that allows them to regularly check in with the team through short, targeted surveys. This gives insight on where their efforts are hitting, and where they need to put some attention.
- Create a lot of safe mechanisms for staff to communicate with management, in person and anonymously.
- Be careful with new hires. For Nebo, every new person that they bring on, regardless of the level, is interviewed by either Easter or Lincoln.
- Find time to come together as a team to communicate, plan, and celebrate. Nebo holds regular, all-hands meetings every Friday (no matter what’s going on) at which they communicate about culture, campaigns, and other issues. They also use it to host a distinctive birthday celebration for anyone who’s had one that week, which you can read about on their blog, here.
Lincoln says, “We can do what we can to set the values, but it is the people that carry out the culture.” The key in today’s marketing world is to provide value, and that starts at home.
Share the Love
It bears repeating: don’t just try to get users to click on something. Your marketing should provide real value. Says Easter, “We have to move beyond simple demographics, key messages, and unique selling points to understanding how we can make that consumer’s life better.” This requires all the same work you do with traditional marketing (messaging, branding, audience research) and adds in a solid dose of empathy and sympathy.
“It is more work,” says Kim, “and we do it not just because it is the right thing to do, but also it’s more successful.” Your authenticity and culture of caring will naturally flow through to your advertising. It starts at home, so take care of your operations, values, and team, and the trust from consumers will come.