Companies need to showcase vulnerabilities to build authenticity: Adobe Digital Marketing Summit

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Biz Stone
Biz Stone

Consumers are more likely to like and trust a brand if the company's marketing efforts are authentic, said Twitter co-founder Biz Stone during the opening address at the second day of Adobe's Digital Marketing Summit in Salt Lake City. To do that, companies would do well to show their vulnerable side, he added.

“This goes against centuries of normal business and brand building lore, but I think vulnerability is valuable,” Stone said to crowd of more than 4,000 people.

To illustrate his point, Stone referenced Harrison Ford's film characters. He said what makes Ford so compelling as an actor is that he looks tortured when he is about to fight an opponent — especially a great, big huge one who will probably hurt Ford badly.

“And you're right there with him. You think, ‘Aw man, that would be terrible if I had to do that,'” Biz said to the crowd, which was roaring with laughter. “That is precisely what companies should do, reveal their vulnerability.”

Companies can do this through social media. For example, showing photos of the employees at a company who are trying to help consumers, so customers know the company may not be perfect — after all, they are only human— but they are trying to help, he explained.

Consumers will be able to relate, or at least understand, a company's mistakes, creating a more authentic experience they can appreciate.

For this reason, Biz said he is a fan of mistakes because they offer companies the ability to learn and grow. Mistakes also offer the opportunity to display character.

“How you approach a situation after you've made a mistake is what defines who you are and what matters. It displays character,” the Twitter co-founder said.

Authenticity has been a reoccurring theme at this year's summit. With so much more content being produced and so much more data being collected, Bradley Rencher, Adobe SVP and GM for digital marketing, said yesterday that marketers now have the opportunity to tailor their marketing efforts and give consumers a more authentic experience.   

Last night during a performance at the annual summit bash Mark Foster, the lead singer of Grammy award-winning band Foster the People, apologized to Adobe for illegally downloading Photoshop many years ago. He also praised Adobe for its quality products.

“I've been a fan of Adobe products for a long time,” he told the crowd. “I really liked taking photos and my high school photography class was the only thing that kept me interested in school… So [Adobe] is doing good things and keeping kids in school.”

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