Marketing is tricky. You have to create your brand's voice and talk to your audience, to make a connection and let them talk back. Authenticity is a major value for the consumers of today. It is no longer enough to stuff an advertising message down someone’s throat until they submit. You have to make an emotional connection on a human level.
How does one talk to the masses? The answer is to let the masses talk!
One approach to marketing that is proving increasingly successful, is using real people who have genuine stories to tell. A survey by digital insights company Toluna found that nearly half of the 1,000 people surveyed resonated most with marketing messages from real people, whereas fewer people preferred celebs or actors.
Using real people is perceived as more authentic and credible. Influencer shout-outs and celebrity endorsements are still impactful, but to form a deeper connection people like to see and hear brand messages from peers.
There are plenty of real-world case studies out there that can illustrate the effectiveness of using real people in your advertising campaign. You have to be able to convey a gripping story, one that is relatable to your audience.
For example, there’s perhaps no surer impact that a single person has had on an industry than Chris Moneymaker. The amateur poker player won the televised 2003 World Series of Poker, turning a $40 online buy-in into $2.5 million. Along with other factors, this caused the boom of the poker industry which became known as ‘The Moneymaker Effect’.
But it's not always going to happen so smoothly. Often brands have to push their real people campaigns to make them work. GoPro gives us an excellent example. They take a user-generated content approach, encouraging owners of their products to post videos of whatever they love doing with their GoPro. In turn, this establishes emotional connections with fans from all over the world.
User-generated GoPro footage turned into a really effective marketing video.
There have been a number of successful TV advertising campaigns using real people. McCain had the ‘We Are Family’ campaign, with real people cooking chips. Iceland Company ditched Peter Andre, and have since run several campaigns, including the ‘Power Of Frozen’ with real people using frozen food. They also have their ‘Channel Mum’ social media campaign to establish a connection with their audience.
Nationwide have run their ‘Voices’ campaign in which real people recite poetry or talk about emotional issues and brand values. This sets them apart from other building societies and promotes their core value of community engagement. Chief marketing officer Sara Bennison also points out that the production is quicker and more organic.
There’s really lots of creative ways that advertisers have used real people, and you can draw inspiration from them to come up with your own digital marketing strategies.
So, how do you use real people effectively in your marketing campaign? How can you really drive home that emotional connection and brand message, while still being authentic?
First of all, you have to find meaningful stories that will matter to your audience. Don’t use real people for the sake of it. Consider how to convey the right tone and information, and how to promote your brand by letting real people speak.
It may seem obvious, but it’s really important that you let the individuals tell their story. Otherwise, you might as well use actors! You can have input when it comes to setting the themes, editing and selecting the right people and footage, but when it comes down to it, the overall advert should be driven by the person and their words or actions.
To make the most of this authentic type of marketing, utilize social media and user-submitted content. Encourage your audience to take photos or videos of themselves using your products, or simply giving feedback. Keep it creative and interesting, yet authentic and emotional, and you are on to a winner.