A few years back I was feeling under the weather and decided it was time for a visit to the doctor. After a quick examination, he inquired about any medical allergies and I informed him of my aversion to penicillin. So, Mr. Doctor man promptly returns with amoxicillin, a close relative to penicillin that would surely kill me. From that moment on, all trust in the relationship was out the window.
Establishing trust in digital marketing really isn’t all that different, and failing to listen to our audience, just as my physician failed to listen to me, is what we as progressive digital marketers need to avoid. Building a successful relationship, whether it be personal or professional, comes from trust. Trust is not an easy thing to build or maintain, especially in the capacity of an online relationship. The only way to build a true relationship online, is to be as authentic as possible.
Authenticity requires complete immersion in the spaces we work in. Be it fashion, travel, health or “going green,” we learn, prepare, and excel in understanding everything about each particular niche so that we don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk. For me in particular, well, I can now walk and talk “green” until you are blue in the face.
Prior to my foray into digital marketing, my knowledge of the eco-friendly lifestyle went about as far as taking shorter showers and recycling. But if I wanted to build authentic relationships with the environmentally conscious community, that simply was not going to cut it. So, I went green, both in knowledge and practice. First, I learned the basics: energy efficient lights, low flow water fixtures, and alternate energy sources, which are nearly impossible not to find in new and renovated buildings, houses, and cities.
I went on to learn that when people use less energy, energy companies actually make more money, and that there are ideas being developed such as underwater turbines that produce enough electricity to power 8,000 homes. There are even certifications given out to show just how “Green” buildings are on a silver, gold, and platinum scale! This is knowledge that the common person likely doesn’t know, but a card-carrying member of the eco-friendly community sizing me up? They certainly will.
I know these things. I learned them in order to build the most authentic, effective relationships possible. I know how to achieve certain levels of green certification, I know how to be eco-friendly in my daily life and find myself giving advice to others as well. I know that when I travel there are “green” hotels to stay in and how to get to my final destination with the smallest carbon footprint. I take pride in knowing all of this because it allows me to better understand my community, my client and my cause. The best part? I’m not the only brand strategist at Terakeet like this. We’re not just portraying our targeted community – we’re practicing their digital lifestyle as our own. We are all experts in both our clients’ industries and the online spaces in which we make connections every day. In each of these fields, we know our stuff and we own it.
The extra time and effort we put into learning about these industries allows us to take calculated and targeted approaches in our strategies. We don’t waste our time or our client’s time throwing out a barrage of garbage hoping that something sticks. We provide valuable, knowledgeable, relevant content, insights, and inspiration to the communities we target, and build meaningful, authentic relationships with their members.
An expert isn’t born with all the answers, but rather it’s someone who immerses themself and demonstrates excellence in learning. Having surrounded myself in the subject of the environment and committing to “go green”, I have noticed that in my everyday life, I am doing anything I can to become eco-friendly and environmentally conscious. I feel comfortable offering up knowledge, advice, and suggestions to people on how they can become eco-friendly. When my parents asked my opinion on windows for their new home, I found myself assessing the entire homes’ LEED certification (as assigned by the U.S. Green Building Council). I might just have to send an email to Rick Fredrizzi (Syracuse native and Founder/CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council) and let him know about the newest green house on our block.
Community marketing as we practice it is not acting, but to the contrary, is about learning, immersing, and living as the audience we’re targeting on behalf of the brands we work with. It’s about earning trust, building relationships and leveraging them for our clients. Authenticity requires a commitment to listening, learning, and engaging, but it’s not something we’re afraid to do. In fact, you could say it’s our green thumb.