Marketing to the Skeptical Consumer

· by Alicia Leary

Alicia is the Marketing Team Lead at HTI. She started her career with HTI in 2015 as a Sales Coordinator.
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The cold hard truth for marketers is that 96% of consumers don’t trust ads.

We have all been jaded by fake news, pop up ads, and advertising scams. Being inundated with thousands of marketing messages daily makes it hard to know who we can trust. Consumers no longer attach to the glorified version of a company shown in traditional marketing messages because it feels inauthentic. Instead, they attach to messages that are genuine and companies they can connect with.

How can you create a memorable marketing campaign in the age where customers are immune to advertising? Here are some guidelines we stuck to while developing our 2020 branding campaign that you should consider before starting your next campaign:


Be authentic.

When creating a marketing campaign, take time to think about the core of your company. What do your employees believe is the truth about your company? What is your driving force? Then build a campaign around that. Be open and honest about the results your services will bring. Exaggerating is a great way to swiftly lose trust.

When we started discussing themes for our 2020 branding campaign, we wanted it to reflect who we truly are. As a marketing department, we can easily tell you what we want people to say about HTI. But what is true to us? We conducted a survey to better understand what internal HTI employees and clients say about us. What we found was that our organization is strongly guided by belief. We empower our internal employees to have a voice and in turn feel heard. This leads to a culture of believing in what we do as a company and why we do it, and fuels part of our mission to bring sophistication to a previously unsophisticated industry. Building a marketing campaign around what our company and our employees believe in was incredibly easy, because it is the truth.


And when we say be authentic…we mean REALLY authentic.

According to Geoff Beattie, Cohn Global Practice Leader of Corporate Affairs, when people think of authentic companies, they think of a brand that has values and morals and stands by them no matter what while honestly divulging its practices (flaws and all).

We’ve made mistakes – and we’re ready to share them in 2020. We’re proud of those mistakes because we grew our capabilities and always bounced back from any error better for it and more knowledgeable. You’ll hear our CEO Herb discuss lessons learned in his podcast this year in the same way he shares them with us in our company-wide meetings.


Use real people to tell your story.

People trust people more than they trust brands. That’s why multi-level marketing structures that sell by word of mouth (think: your friend who sells essential oils or Mary Kay) are thriving. When you see a real person sharing something that they have confidence in, it is easier to attach to what they believe in.

Any good HR-focused company will tell you that employees are your greatest asset. Our internal employees are truly special; we extensively screen to hire the best. Belief in what we do creates employees that love what they do, and we want to highlight our internal family. We will be using our employees to tell a new part of our story each month as part of our 2020 marketing campaign.


Be driven by your values.

For authentic advertising, focus on what your company values. Some of the most memorable advertisers are sharing their company values in their messaging. Patagonia values their environmental impact. They even encourages consumers NOT to buy their products, but to reuse and repair old gear. Starbucks lists their core values on their website – you can see those subtly percolate through their advertising.

There’s no need to sound like a broken record by listing your values in every ad – keep it tactful and authentic. Just make sure your messaging is intentional and founded in your values. Even if you’re the only one who can see the connection, your purpose will shine through and cultivate something powerful. Everything we do at HTI points back to our why, and this campaign is part of that. Each message that we push out as part of our 2020 branding campaign is inspired by a section of our why.


You do you: focus on YOUR company.

Obviously it’s important to monitor market trends. But being consumed by what others are doing is the quickest way to fall behind. A classic example of this happened in the 2016 Summer Olympics. Michael Phelps never lost his focus in the 200M Butterfly finals. However for a brief moment, Chad Le Clos took his focus off of winning the gold to look in Phelps’ lane. This mistake landed him in fourth place while Phelps took gold.

While it would be easy to look at our competitors and measure our success based on theirs – that would create a weak marketing campaign. When it comes to HTI’s marketing, we’re only looking forward. We’re focusing on finding and sharing better ways we can serve our clients and applicants and creating ways to helps them get to know us better, because they are at the core of our business.


Show, don’t tell.

Again – everyone is immune to elevated claims made by advertising messages and can perceive them as inauthentic. Show the data, share a case study. Let your messaging provide the tools and information for customers can make a choice on their own.

we’re not just telling potential customers about our services through our marketing. We’re showing why our clients believe that they work. In 2020, we will be sharing infographics and case studies filled with true testimonials and our data. From there people can choose if they want more information, but we aren’t pushing it on them through our marketing.


Our 2020 marketing campaign is not about selling or pushing our services. We’re sharing what we believe in, and why we believe in what we’re doing. For those that have worked with us, we hope you enjoy learning more about what we believe in and see our employees live out Our Why when you interact with them. If you haven’t worked with us yet but hold similar values, we hope to connect with you in 2020.