Don't Get Too Fancy in Your Marketing -- Authenticity Always Wins Focus less on the product and more on the company and the people who work there.

By Chris Savage

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When building a messaging strategy, the first question young startups typically asks themselves is, What do my customers want? In the digital-first world that we live in today, consumers value authenticity more than ever before, and it's the brand's job to make sure the messaging delivers on those values. According to a survey conducted by Label Insight, over 40 percent of customers would switch from their current preferred brand to one that offers more authenticity in their marketing strategies.

Related: 10 Laws of Social Media Marketing

One of the biggest mistakes that many businesses make is they talk too much about their product and not enough about their company and the people who work there. And yes, there is a difference. A company's most attractive qualities aren't always the services it offers, but rather the type of experience it's providing its customers.

Failing to exude authenticity is one mistake that startups cannot afford to make, so here are three brand guidelines to keep in mind when developing a messaging strategy.

Forgo a professional online presence in favor of an honest one.

So your website is super professional and legitimate -- doesn't sound so bad does it? While maintaining a strong brand reputation online is important, there is more authenticity in the startup sphere when you showcase your company's personality. Social media is an obvious place in which to do so, with 83 percent of consumers preferring brand personality on Facebook above all social channels, according to Sprout Social, but updating your brand's website is just as valuable to telling your brand story; and we all know that every startup has a good story.

Include short and sweet videos about the team on the about us page like these profiles by Nextiny or spice up your blog with how-tos like this Trello video that addresses relevant customer questions (Full disclosure: Both were made using Wistia's platform). Making these adjustments can go a long way when it comes to showing off what type of company you are.

Related: 4 Ways to Market Your Business for Free

Be your own customer.

A good way to retain brand authenticity is by offering solutions for your customers based on how you address your own problems that arise internally. If you can identify your own business need or point of pain, chances are there are other companies out there facing the same problem. By modifying or creating products and services that also better serve your own customers, you've become more relatable and more importantly, reliable. In the tech space, there is no "one size fits all" for the way customers incorporate products into their framework, so creating customized solutions for your clients based on what you know about how they do business, better serves your customer base and makes you a better business partner in the long run.

For example, we realized that our videos were more successful when we showed a human face next to the content we were presenting so we relied on that partnership heavily. When we set out to make Soapbox, a browser-based screen and webcam recording tool, we made sure it was easy for non-professional video makers to do the same so they could be equally as successful.

Related: Use These 5 Steps to Create a Marketing Plan

People don't care about products, so stop marketing them.

Every day, consumers are exposed to as many as 5,000 product-centric messages. That means that even if your company makes use of a unique and differentiated value proposition, content with this focus can easily get lost in the mix. The best content marketing tactic to drive traffic that converts is to standardize your messaging to be less about your product and more about your brand's mission. This may involve a collective effort to revise your company mission statement, but this should be an exciting time for your business, not a stressful one. It's also a great way to reconnect with the underlying purpose of your company and a reminder of why you started the business in the first place.

84 Lumber is privately held, second generation, woman-owned supplier of building materials that understands how to create content focused on more than just the products its selling. This year, 84 Lumber used its history and mission to create a commercial, The Journey Begins, that followed a young girl on her journey toward a better life, which connected with consumers on a common level and highlighted its desire to help build both hope and homes.

The overall lesson here? Your customers are not programmable machines, and they want to be sold a reliable solution that gets them one step closer to their business goals. The best way to earn long-term customer loyalty and set yourself apart from industry competitors is to be honest, and incorporate more holistic conversations into your content strategy and overall brand narrative. Be your own customer, show off those fun and creative employees you hired, and keep lines of communication wide open, because authenticity will always win.

Related Video: Why Are Simple Marketing Messages the Most Impactful?

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Chris Savage

Founder and CEO, Wistia

Chris Savage is the cofounder and CEO of Wistia, a web-based video hosting solution built for businesses. He founded the company in 2006 with the goal of helping businesses effectively market their products or services in a smarter way through video. Under Savage’s leadership and vision, Wistia has experienced 100 percent growth over the past three years, expanding the company’s client portfolio to more than 110,000 users in more than 50 countries, including companies such as HubSpot, MailChimp and Starbucks.


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