The value of an exquisitely integrated marketing plan cannot be denied; ad copy that blends beautifully with a search campaign and PR with sponsorship or influencer activity is a truly wonderful thing. But what of the consumer experience, and what they say about your brand? If the messaging doesn’t resonate with the consumer, it doesn’t matter how integrated it is. The carefully crafted story will end once you’ve hit broadcast.

Studies have shown that 90% of consumer conversations happen offline. They are out of the brand’s corporate control, and they almost certainly don’t sound like any brand’s corporate messages.

There’s a vast communications gap between what brands are saying to consumers, and what consumers are saying to each other about brands. Brands will often aim for aspirational marketing language, but when discussing a product, consumers will talk practical benefits connected to their own experiences. People don’t talk in marketing slogans, it’s an alien language.

The language of consumers

Yotpo analysed 1.3 million customer fashion reviews, and found that the top two words used in reviews were “love” and “great”. When describing quality and comfort, the reviewers used the word “soft” the most. The word “comfort” was used 4.8 times more than “sexy”.

While advertising with aspirational imagery and snappy copy may get people’s initial attention, what’s more likely to drive them to trial and purchase of a product is practical content and sensory information. What the product does, how it feels, what a dress looks like on at size 14, or the actual sound quality of those new headphones; told not by the brand but by real people just like themselves.

To give an example: when was the last time you described a new lipstick to your friend and said that it gave you “luscious lips”? Or that it “moisturises with 3x the power of a lip balm”? It’s much more likely that you said something like “It’s great. I love the colour and last night when I went for pizza my lipstick stayed put all night”.

Bridging the gap between brand and consumer

This is by no means a bad thing, organic recommendations drive purchase, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Finding a way to bridge the disconnect between brands’ marketing efforts and consumers’ conversations opens up incredible opportunities for brands to market with their consumers, rather than talking at them and hoping the story continues to be told. By collaborating with consumers at scale and bringing them into the marketing process you’ll sync your brand messages with the language consumers use to talk about your product, enabling you to co-create the tools people need to spread the word.

By doing so brands help their consumers to clearly communicate the functional benefits of the product and bestow the social currency that people crave, empowering them to talk to their friends, families, and networks about the brand. Not only will these recommendations (the most trusted form of advertising) make your brand look good and power sales, they will boost the impact of all other media activity too.

This is truly integrated marketing.

By Rebekah Mackay Miller, managing director at trnd UK

You can find Rebekah and her colleague Paul's presentation on this very topic in the Content Theatre at 12:30pm at Integrated Live on 16 November, but you'll have to register for your free ticket first:

Eventbrite - Integrated Live

Originally posted on Digital Marketing Magazine