The Secrets To Pulling Off A Real-People Marketing Campaign

Paul D’Arcy, SVP of marketing for Indeed, explains why a recent campaign worked for them and how it could pay off for your brand.

The Secrets To Pulling Off A Real-People Marketing Campaign
[Photo: Flickr user Satish Krishnamurthy]

When building a marketing strategy, the very people you’re marketing to could become a bigger ally than you think.

Paul D’Arcy

Paul D’Arcy, SVP of marketing for job search site Indeed, believes in working the customers you serve into campaigns to add what he calls “a layer of reality,” as evidenced in a commercial for Indeed that used real jobseekers from the site to role-play their real-life skills on camera.

“For us, the real people element was a very natural outflow of who we are and what we want to accomplish,” D’Arcy says. “There’s something about creating a TV commercial that can seem fake and filled with hype. We wanted to see how we could do something that has impact and is not so much about us as the jobseekers we serve.”

D’Arcy offers these guiding principles for building your next marketing campaign with a layer of reality:

Start With a Solid Foundation

“Decades ago, building a brand was about creating an image you wanted to create and trying to get people to believe–those days are over. The starting point for building a brand is the product and the customer experience you deliver. I say very often you shouldn’t be spending any money on marketing if you have a lousy product or lousy product experience–fix that first.”

If You Fake It, You Can’t Make It

“You can’t manufacture an image in this day and age. Your brand and the messages you convey are commitments you make, and if don’t live up to those commitments you’re going to be held accountable by the people you serve through reviews, social media, blogs–through all of the ways your constituents have a voice that they never had before. And that voice in the aggregate is more powerful than the voice of any brand. That’s where authenticity becomes really important–thinking about the commitments you’re making and how you’re communicating those commitments in building a brand.”

Curate Your Customers With Caution

“There’s always the temptation for a marketer to find that person who can say nice things about your brand and edit their message down to the nice things they say about you. I think that’s what people rightfully react negatively to. The more you can open a broader discussion and engagement with the communities you serve, the more that becomes an authentic dialogue. Even if you’re focusing on a few customers, the more you can let them talk about themselves and what they’re trying to accomplish, even a small part of that is much more important–curating them in an authentic way is more important than curating them down to what seems like a prompted promotion.”

About the author

KC covers entertainment and pop culture for Fast Company. Previously, KC was part of the Emmy Award-winning team at "Good Morning America" where he was the social media producer.