When businesses are authentic they will inspire and prosper. While, by its nature, marketing your business isn’t authentic, in the digital age where customers are becoming more and more savvy that’s a preconception that must change. Authenticity is the new black and unlike other trends, it’s here to stay.
The busier and more ‘online’ customers’ lives become the more they crave something that is genuine. They don’t just want a product or a service, they want an experience; something honest, transparent and more authentic. Businesses that provide this are the ones set to survive.
What is authenticity?
Being authentic means remaining true to who you are, what you do and who you service. Authenticity works for your business because it:
- Raises your business above the competition
- Build your image and identity into something truly influential
- Provides substance to your products, services, brand and business
- Ensures customers can relate to your business
- Assists customers to understand the benefits of what you offer
- Explains to customers that what you offer is of high quality
- Identifies your business as a trustworthy, reliable company
- Encourages engagement and can create brand ambassadors of your audience
How to be authentic
Be real – Share your mission, your passions, your values. Get back to basics and share who you are and what drives you. Best way to be seen as authentic is to BE authentic. Create a purpose for your business beyond making a profit.
Be consistent – Giving mixed messages very easily leads to mistrust and suspicion. Act the same way online as you do offline, be consistent across digital platforms. While it is important to always customise your approach to each different platform, your core message, style and identity should remain the same.
Back up what you say – Authenticity goes hand in hand with being transparent, so avoid any embarrassment by never making claims you can’t prove, giving evidence wherever you can, staying true to your core mission and values, and making sure you never post misleading information about your business.
Be responsive – Provide customers and potential customers with as many ways as possible to contact you and ensure your team is there to respond professionally, effectively and promptly.
Be accountable – If you make a mistake; admit it and be humble. Fess up and apologise before anyone else has the chance to publicly make a harsh judgment that could damage your reputation further. Handled properly, being honest about and accountable for your mistakes could turn a mistake into an advantage for your business.
Be charitable – Affiliating your business with a charity and building campaigns around it goes a long way to winning customers over with your altruistic nature. For real impact a once or twice a year donation isn’t going to work, you must be a true champion of the cause you choose.
Highlight your reputation – It’s widely known how much powerful reviews have over potential customers, so make a show of them on your website and through social media. A word of caution; never manipulate your reviews – you will be caught out and damage to your reputation and your business will ensue.
Tend your audience – Actively nurturing your audience will keep them enthusiastic and engaged. 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.
Don’t share all – While it’s great to share some secrets and involve people in some behind the scenes insights, authenticity does not require the same level of transparency with every relationship. A business can have many different facets as long as they are untied underneath the umbrella of your core identity. How your audience will react to what you share will vary depending on who they are, what their needs and desires are, where they come from and how you are reaching them.
Know your limitations – Just like each of your clients, you and your business are unique and you will have your own limits regarding what and how much you are willing to share in order to build your authenticity. Don’t feel obliged to share more than you are comfortable with.
Be patient – You can’t create authenticity overnight, but put in the work and it will pay huge dividends in the long run.
Being true to your business and yourself and honest with your clients and customers relieves anxiety many of us didn’t realise we held. It frees up time, money and energy that would normally be consumed by maintaining a facade. That boost can have a huge impact on a business as a whole and make it a real power to be reckoned with.
This is a trend which is not going away and an open and trustworthy business will always be a popular business. Businesses that are not authentic will ultimately fail regardless of whatever efforts are made to promote them and however much money is invested in them.
For more information on how authenticity affects your business and how to get help to implement authenticity, contact the brand agency Liquid Creativity, your local branding specialist.