I don’t turn on the TV frequently, but while visiting family over the weekend I found myself lounging in front of America’s favorite pastime. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen any kind of ad that didn’t have a “Skip to Video” button hovering over it, and I was quickly reminded why. It was akin to being held hostage by a visual shouting match. Commercials/political spots/capitalistic tirades scrolled passed and I was powerless to do anything other than change the channel — usually to a different ad, no more appealing than the one I was trying to get away from.

As consumers, we like having control and don’t want to be “told” what to do. We want to get to know you at our own pace, in our own way. When we are allowed to discover you in our own way, we are more likely to grow to trust you. This will  probably not be accomplished by shouting in our faces with a flashy banner ad.

So how do you beat the shouting match?

Let your brand speak (quietly) for you.

You build your brand story by starting from the baseline of your position statement. Whatever your brand position is, you need to be true to it. Any attempt at advertising something else comes across like a used car salesman. McDonald’s doesn’t promise to use organic ingredients or provide superior customer service. But for the most part, you know you can order something that will momentarily quiet your stomach and pay for it with the change clinking around your car. The golden arches promise affordable, adequate quality and then they deliver. Conversely, a sit-down burger joint will cost a little more, but they’ll use better ingredients delivered by a smiling server happy to grant your requests. If not, they’ve just lost a customer.

So what is your brand promise and how good are you at fulfilling it?

Get loyal customers to talk about you. Word-of-mouth is often how people deem a product or service trustworthy. Today, in this digital age, word-of-mouth means using social media as well as face-to-face interactions.

Marketers introduce their product to “social influencers.” What’s a social influencer? This is someone who represents your target demographic and has a large number of engaged followers. Research shows that 82% of consumers are “highly likely to follow the recommendations of an influencer. The brand pays the social influencer to take pictures, write reviews and share information about the product or service which is then seen by their followers. This strategy gently nudges potential customers in a way that isn’t bossy.

Victoria’s Secret, for example, released a Fall line of sweatpants in time for the new school year. They didn’t look to high-profile celebrities to read from a script to say how comfy the sweatpants were. The company looked to college girls themselves, namely ones with a significant amount of followers. In return for a few items from the line, the college students agreed to post and blog for Victoria’s Secret. Rather than seeing an ad of an anonymous, unreachable supermodel, women heard their friends saying how great these sweatpants were. Which one seems more trustworthy?

Bottom line. You don’t have to dump a chunk of change on social ads to tell people what to do. Simply figure out what you do well, find people who like what you do and encourage them to talk about how great you are.

Want to learn more about this topic? Check out the highlights from Lorraine’s presentation on User Generated Content.

Roundpeg is an Indianapolis marketing strategy firm.