Pixel Bakery has seen a lot of success over the years. Almost all our clients continue to return and maintain a relationship with us. They do so because we don’t over-complicate our process and we stick to a simple formula. Tried and true, our formula works, and the things we create for them significantly impact their audiences.
One sentence could answer the title of this post:
Because you have 9 seconds to engage your potential customers before they scroll past you.
We live in a world of over-stimulation. Our social media feeds are a constant barrage of ads for things we don't care about and photos from people we haven't talked to in years.
Most companies get it wrong. They spend their money trying to be the ones yelling the loudest in a crowded room. The primary strategy in advertising today is to throw anything and everything at the wall and hope it sticks. Not only does this waste already-tight marketing budgets, but it annoys consumers. Full stop.
Imagine yourself at a party
Everyone is drunk and belligerent and loudly talking about themselves. Every light is on, and every lightbulb is an inconsiderate mix of bright-blue bulbs and soft yellow ones. You're feeling overwhelmed and out of place, so you slip into a quieter room to escape the noise, gather your thoughts, and check to see how bad Uber's surge pricing is.
In that room, you find yourself surrounded by other people that felt the same way. They're all sitting in a circle, passing a J around, and relating over things of substance– vulnerable memories and experiences, their shared passion for the community they live in, stupid things they all mutually saw on TikTok, and culture/art that they're passionate about.
Even though you've never met these people, you immediately feel at home and like you've known them forever. You close Uber, put your phone upside down on the coffee table, and spend the rest of the night there.
You walk away with conversations you won't forget and a memory that sticks with you for a long time. The memory formed should you have stayed in the other room would have been 'eh, just another party I hated.' I think you know where I'm going with this. If not, here's the analogy:
That party was the status quo.
You were your brand's target audience, and the friends you met were your brand.
The old ways of advertising are dead. Your customers have seen it all before. They know when you're being dishonest and trying to trick them, and they can smell your bullshit a mile away.
And they'll call you out on it. Next time you get an ad on Instagram for something that doesn't seem legit, look at the comments on their post. I guarantee you that they're being dragged over the coals.
People crave authenticity, and they're sick of the way things are. The world sucks right now, and they need something they can relate to. Advertising exists and always will; your audience knows and accepts that fact. We're all fine being advertised to, but only in a way that isn't aggressive. Almost everyone I know enjoys getting ads on Instagram for things that they find interesting.
Okay, Great. So What Does That Mean, and How do I do it?
Let's start with something a little bit more selfish: Cost-Benefit Analysis. We are businesses, after all, and we need to make sure we're spending money in the right places.
Being inauthentic is expensive and stressful. You're constantly chasing down new schemes, fast trends to awkwardly wedge yourself into, and pumping out content constantly.
Being authentic is cheap and stress-free. You're freed from the confines of constant market research and aggressive posting. The formula is simple:
Let your brand's voice and your core values be your guide.
If you know who you are and what you stand for, the decisions you have to make are more decisive and clear. Sure, there are no absolutes, and we all exist in shades of grey. But if you understand yourself better, you'll understand the world better. This holds true with you as a person and your company as a brand. Be who you are, and people will respect you.
Understand your brand from your consumer's perspective.
We are constantly changing and growing. Our ideas and viewpoints shift as we react and learn from those around us. We're social creatures, and our experiences impact our identity. Again, this should be the same for our brand. These first two concepts might seem at odds with each other on the surface, but they're the same. Evolve and continue to grow, learn from your mistakes, and guide your brand to the best version of itself. We're kept in check by having self-actualization and viewing ourselves from other perspectives.
Meet them where they're at.
Treat your audience like people and not dollar signs.
This might be the most critical part. There is a human on the other side of that screen. They deserve dignity and respect. You're asking them to give you money at a time when people don't have much money. You're asking them to choose YOU. If you try to take advantage of them, not only are you an asshole, but a lousy business person. They're your livelihood and why your brand can continue existing; without them, you would be nothing. If you take care of your customers, they'll take care of you.
Consider the impact on the world that your advertising decisions are making.
Your brand has a voice. If you have a following, that means you have a platform. With the combination of a voice and a platform comes responsibility. What's the point of having either if you don't use it to contribute to a better society? Words have meaning, and actions have consequences. Make that meaning a force for good, and make those consequences ones that drive us all forward.
It's Not That Complicated
The takeaway: Be yourself, be authentic, be kind, and be true.