Let’s face it, traditional marketing isn’t necessarily authentic in nature. Most brands are trying to position themselves in the best possible light and all too often they oit any details that may be bad for their image. It’s all about wooing customers.
But there is change happening. Thanks to Social Media and Online review platforms like Trip Advisor and Google reviews, we are now in an age of unprecedented consumer empowerment. The ‘truth’ of products and services is just a Google search and tweet away. That’s led to an influx of marketers harping on the need to be “authentic.” What’s often left unsaid is what exactly being authentic means within the context of marketing.
Companies are investing heavily in brand and marketing authenticity, educating & engaging their buyers long before that buyer makes a purchase. They are investing in content that identifies a need or a challenge and provides a way to solve the said challenge. In the early stage of this interaction, it is imperative that a company doesn’t use overtly ‘salesy’ communication techniques. If they do, they will immediately lose their audience. If, however, they invest in informing and educating their buyer around bigger ideas and themes over the course of the buyer’s journey, that buyer might just stay engaged long enough to push the button.
The consumer is now dictating how they want to be marketed to and more importantly, whom they trust. When they show their own love for a brand, we know as marketers that we’ve done our job correctly. Consumers are demanding that brands engage with them in more relevant and authentic ways, they are looking to their peers for recommendations, and they are choosing to “opt-out” of messages from brands that feel intrusive and aggressive, the exact opposite of relevant and authentic.
How do we do it?
Being authentic means staying true to who you are, what you do and who you serve. In an environment in which more human elements matter it creates value and benefits for your followers as well as improving your business.
Authenticity works because:
- It elevates your business above the competition
- It builds your identity and image into something influential
- It gives substance to your business, services, and products
- It enables people to relate to your business
- It helps people understand how what you offer is of benefit to them
- It tells people that what you offer is of high quality
- It marks you out as a reliable, trustworthy company
- It encourages engagement and can turn audiences into advocates
It sounds so straightforward, but amazingly many businesses get it wrong. You have to get personal; Share your passions and your mission as a company. Who are you? What drives you? The best way to be perceived as authentic is to BE authentic. Show your customers how you apply your core values, goals and beliefs to every aspect of your business.
This also means remaining true to yourself and your business, sharing your passions and your mission, but importantly taking the time to listen to and understand those involved with your business, from your clients through to employees, peers, and suppliers. Don’t fall into the trap of being overly ‘self-promotional’ it will only have a detrimental effect.
It is important to nurture your customers and treat them with respect. If you mess something up, put your hands up and admit it. We’re all human after all and sometimes admitting a human error can actually benefit your brand. It humanises you and helps create a resonance. Give back to your customers and you’ll receive back ten-fold.
If you actively nurture a dialogue with your followers, you will keep them enthusiastic and engaged. Get to know your audience intimately and let them get to know you too through personal interaction, bios, videos, blogs, behind the scenes coverage and glimpses into the personal lives of company members. Talk to them. Give them the benefit of your expertise and experience – for free. Position yourself (subtly) as an authority in your industry and your authenticity will shine through.