By Dan Gable founder and CEO of ShoutOut & Sprat TV
If we look back at the 1980’s it looks very dated. Power suites, alpha males and females, winning at all cost and of course it was commonly said that ‘greed is good’. Thankfully, we have moved on from this way of thinking and communicating and truly entered into a new era. An era of saving the planet, recycling, economy and collaboration. Flashy sports cars are beginning to look crass and overt displays of wealth look old fashioned and tacky. It’s becoming more common place that the richest people on the planet are wearing jeans, T shirts and trainers and drive electric cars.
Part of this new era is the welcoming of honest and vulnerable traits in the workplace. Honesty and vulnerability are now encouraged rather than frowned upon and this applies in both a professional and personal environment. LinkedIn is a great example of this and is full of people being open honest and vulnerable about their lives and their work and honesty is good for business, as long as it’s truly honest! If you try to fake it, people will see through it pretty quickly and you run the risk of being regarded as inauthentic.
As a result, our relationship with brands professionally and personally has changed. As well as knowing the products and services a brand provides, we want to know their why. Why they do what they do, what is their mission and motivation, who are the founders, what is their background, what motivates them and how are they making a difference in the world. We now are in a world of storytelling, it’s no longer enough to demonstrate your products unique selling points (USP’s) because there is so much competition. What will give you the competitive edge is your story and how customers feel about your company. Your why and story is now part of the buying decision for your customers. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for example is now a necessity for all companies, large and small, as opposed to previously being something that only large corporations do. People want to know who they are buying from and if they share the same values they do. They start questioning, is this the kind of company we want to do business with? Even if it’s just buying a product, these questions and thought processes will be going through your customers mind and it is their answer to them that will differentiate you from the competition and ultimately determine their buying decision.
This doesn’t just apply to customers but to staff as well. People want to work at a company with values they can relate to, that embraces their corporate responsibility and gives something back to communities. People want to be part of a company that makes a difference and, especially for younger people, this is part of the decision-making process of where to work. This is also important to consider when hiring new staff as well. Applicants are more compelled to apply for a job role within a company that they are in synergy with and will likely improve employee retention rates within the company.
All of the above and more has shaped how companies communicate, both with their customers and staff. Honesty, integrity and showing vulnerability is now seen as a strength rather than a weakness. Bravado and stiff upper lip seem outdated and inauthentic now in the business world, as does vulgar displays of success, wealth and prosperity.
The game has changed, and large brands are trying to be as approachable as small start-ups. It’s always important to remember that customers now care more about the company in addition to the products and services they supply. They want to be connected to companies and their values.
Consumers are much savvier now when it comes to marketing messages, they want to see videos from happy customers and case studies. Consumers want to find out what other customers think and trawl around for customer testimonials, unboxing videos and reviews. In other words, unbiased authentic and honest communication from customers. So, make it accessible for consumers to find this information, whether you want them to buy your product, work for your company or simply as part of your marketing strategy, make it visible and easily found for those looking. This will also make you stand out as a company and from other competitors.
It’s an interesting time for all corporate communication and time for good old fashion honesty, integrity and vulnerability.