Authenticity has long been a focus for consumer marketing, and the reason for that is pretty simple. In today’s connected world, if you lie about your company then you’re sure to get found out eventually, and when you do get found out you risk going viral for all of the wrong reasons.
Authentic marketing is more ethical by default because the authenticity that you put into it is reflected by more openness, honesty and transparency. Instead of trying to trick people into buying your product through introductory offers, confusing trial periods and other shady marketing efforts, you can simply show the tangible value that your company has to offer through how it’s already helping other people.
That’s one of the reasons why authentic marketing is increasingly popular, and why it’s not just a 2018 trend but rather something that’s going to continue driving us into the future. It’s inevitable, in the same way that social networking inevitably leads to a more open society and how image and video based content will just continue to soar in popularity.
engagement with UGC.
Display powerful, authentic consumer content
on any website or DooH screen.
What is Authentic Marketing?
At its most basic level, authentic marketing is any form of marketing that doesn’t pretend or attempt to sugar coat the truth. You can think about it in terms of making music. Inauthenticity is trying to copy other artists in a bid to be successful. Authenticity is making the music that you want to make instead of just trying to please other people.
If you’re looking for a consumer behaviour building marketing strategy, authentic marketing could be the best solution for you. That’s because authenticity sells, but it’s also a long-term strategy that your company has to demonstrate through its actions.
Examples of authentic marketing
A recent example is Ben and Jerry’s taking a political stance with their new anti-trump Pecan Resist flavour. They know that this might alienate some customers, but they’re standing by their beliefs regardless.
This is a relatively extreme example, but it does a good job of illustrating how a brand can be authentic in its marketing.
Less extreme examples include:
- sharing candid behind-the-scenes and fly-on-the-wall content that shows what really happens behind closed doors.
- giving employees the ability to create content on your behalf is also a good idea, but be sure to provide them with the training they need to make sure that they go into it knowing exactly what’s expected of them.
User-Generated Content in Consumer Marketing
This brings us on to the topic of user-generated content (UGC), which is essentially an umbrella term for any type of written, video or visual content that’s not created by the brand. When people talk about UGC, they’re usually referring to content that’s created by a brand’s clients and customers, but it can also be created by a company’s employees.
This candid, user-generated content from the point of view of your employees can help to showcase your authenticity, but it can also lead to greater engagement rates and even help with your employees’ personal branding. Some companies are hesitant to support personal branding because the better someone’s personal brand is, the more likely they are to be headhunted by a recruiter. Unfortunately, that’s just part of the price that you pay, and the key is to accept that and to create a culture in which people actively want to stay.
Of course, if you can generate user-generated content from outside of the company, that’s even better. The problem is that this is easier within some industries than others, and it can also be time consuming to organize a campaign and difficult to drum up interest. We also see a lot of brands that perfect this first bit and then fail to fully take advantage of user-generated content by displaying it on their websites and at the point of sale.
Authenticity without, Authenticity within
Authenticity can’t be faked. By its very nature, the only way to truly be authentic within your marketing is to be authentic in the way that you work as a whole. It needs to be built into the product and drummed into your customer service reps. Your founders need to be particularly authentic, living for the mission that they’re trying to solve with the company, because they’ll be the ones who come under the most scrutiny.
Remember that if you want to look authentic from without, you need to start by being authentic from within. Your employees will talk about the company whether you want them to or not, which is why you should give them the freedom to talk as well as something to talk about. Don’t teach them all to just blindly follow the same elevator pitch because that’s a sure-fire way to come across as inauthentic.
If you ever have to stop to ask yourself whether something is authentic to your brand or your company, the chances are that you already know the answer and that it isn’t. When you’re being authentic, it just feels right – perhaps not what you want to hear in a data-driven marketing world, but there’s really no other way to explain it. You need to be able to recognise that feeling in the same way that a graphic designer can recognise when an image is well put together.
Now that you know why authentic marketing is such a powerful tool in 2018 and beyond, the next step is to look at your company with fresh eyes and to identify anything that feels inauthentic. Remember that much of your authenticity will be based on the company’s values and the mission that it set out to achieve. If something isn’t supporting that mission then there’s something wrong and you’ll want to investigate.
Authentic marketing solutions
In the meantime, find ways to:
- give your employees more of a voice, both internally and when it comes to social networking sites and your overall online presence
- invite people to contribute to the company blog and encourage them to get their opinions out there
- listen to what your customers and employees are actually saying
- don’t make the mistake of assuming that just because you believe something in the boardroom, it’s what people are actually saying and thinking.
For authenticity to work, you need to make it a company-wide policy that everyone’s on board with. You need to demonstrate it through your actions as well as through your words, and you also have to know when to ignore criticism and to stick to your guns. Fantasy author Terry Pratchett once said,
“It’s not worth doing something unless someone, somewhere, would much rather you weren’t doing it.”
The same is usually true when it comes to being authentic. Authenticity is being willing to come under fire for what you believe in and to stand up for those beliefs regardless. Remember, it’s better to be hated for who you are than loved for who you’re not – even when you’re in business.