Engaging Your Audience with Authentic Marketing

In today’s world of digital marketing, authenticity is a major buzzword.

But what does that mean exactly? Is “authentic” just another buzzword that’s hot today and not tomorrow?

With all the directions marketing can go, you want to stay focused and on point in generating leads, which means your brand should not be pretending to be something it’s not, or promoting stereotypes and cliches. If you’re just imitating the success recipes of others, you’ll miss any chance of standing out and building for long-term success.

You have to create something that’s yours, that represents you and your brand, and which you can therefore grow.

By being authentic in your marketing, you’re able to build a real community, with real people and engaged relationships. This is the best way to gather an organic group of prospects and customers.

If your want your brand to be authentic, here are a few tips to achieving it.

Effective marketing must be authentic

When it comes to your marketing strategy, it’s important to be naturally sincere, genuine and enthusiastic about your products and services. You need to tailor your messages and market towards a target audience. Being authentic is the opposite of being all things to all people.

A business’ brand or identity must be very clear in communicating the essence of what it is about. As a result, you will attract the right types of customers to you.

These are a few coordinates that should guide you while you’re developing your brand and marketing identity:

  • Inclusive
  • Honest
  • Refreshingly straightforward
  • Unapologetic

You can’t be artificial, insecure or gimmicky. You must take part in authentic talk with your customers. It’s critical to stay true to your brand’s DNA- and it’s impossible to do that if your identity is not honest.

It’s true that by nature, marketing is not authentic. This is why it takes extra effort on your part to make it so. We are in an age of unprecedented customer power.

identical sailors

Customers now have the power of search engines to learn as much as they want about products, services, and your competitors. What’s more, they have the power to review.

Your marketing must position your company in a way that is:

  • More direct
  • Friendly
  • Conversational
  • Colloquial

If you have a brick and mortar business, or some other type of business that involves real, direct interaction with your customers, don’t act one way offline and another way when you’re online.

Know and understand who your customers are and why they want to connect with you and what you offer. To make your brand more humane and relatable, give your customers behind-the-scenes views of your company. Don’t post anything that can be construed as misleading. You have to be upfront at all times.

Understand your company’s main values

When it comes to authentic marketing, you can’t think about it too much. If you do, it’ll start to feel contrived. It must be genuine and driven by self-awareness.

This needs to come from your company’s core values. If you don’t know what they are, sit down with company executives and ask this question: “What do we stand for through thick and thin?”

After you’ve determined your core values, make sure they are expressed and represented through all of your marketing channels. Beyond making a profit, what does your company stand for? It really is time to forget traditional tactics.

Take risks

With authentic marketing, you must be willing to take risks. Consumers don’t want to be manipulated, they want to feel like they’re part of your story.

As long as it’s in line with your company identity, think outside the box. In our consumer-driven market, innovative companies are the ones who often win.

One way to step outside the box is to be open about some of the issues your company wants to solve. You might blog about this or send it as an email piece. Customers will feel like they are part of your journey towards improving your product or services, which in the end help them. Make a narrative out of this journey and your customers will become attached to what you represent.

Authentic marketing even affects your business processes. You want to ensure your systems are aligned with your core values and identity as an organization.

Communicate honestly

Social media has made it easier for brands to market in a more casual space and have direct contact with their customers and prospects. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all engage in two-way media. Use these social networks to communicate honestly and have friendly, relaxed interactions with your audience.

This is how you start to tell a story about your brand. Doing the same thing you did yesterday is less likely to work. People are busier today with an increasing amount of media taking up their time.

You must be simple, direct, and authentic. When you think about it, authenticity always turns out to be the campaign that generates leads. Even if you’re not focused on your bottom line, authentic marketing continuously comes out on top.

Forget the corporate jargon

No one wants to listen to overly formal styles of communication. This tends to create a barrier between your brand and your target audience. There’s no need for excessive formality.

Unless you’re activating in the business or financial sector, you may want to loosen up your marketing language on some of the channels you use to promote yourself, or even on your official site.

Using a too rigid vocabulary can make it awkward in communications with customers who have varying personal styles – this is especially true for millennials and generation Z.

Today’s customers are more straightforward and down-to-earth. They use a lot of slang in their communication, even talking similarly to how they text. When you write a text, you must keep it simple. Language and communication has evolved in this same manner.

People want to speak directly, without any pretense. Too much formality can clash with the individual styles of your customers, and people may start to view your brand as condescending or out of touch. Your marketing must align with the needs of your customers and communicate in a way they find relevant.

This is the way to start building authentic relationships with customers.

Keep your facts in check

So much information is passed around that’s false and misleading. But consumers do have an advantage since they can use the Internet for fact-checking.

This means they no longer have to succumb to being manipulated by false advertising, even though some resources that claim to offer facts, actually provide spin. Here’s a few general tips:

To maintain authenticity, you must be aware of these facts. You should allow for uncensored customer feedback on your site and social media profiles.

Respond to feedback in a transparent and collaborative way. Issues will come up. Your customers and prospects will take note of how you address problems. Authenticity wins loyalty.

Don’t send manufactured or generic responses to suggestions and questions. Even artificial intelligence is being programmed to be authentic.

Think of your customers and prospects as your best friends. Approach them in such a way, but stay away from potentially offensive language, and don’t clash with company guidelines.

Engage with your target market and customers

Keeping things authentic is about self-expression. Customers want to feel good about their decision to patronize your business.

How can you keep them feeling good about their decision?

One way is by engaging them in dialogue. When you understand what your audience likes and dislikes, you can create a more personal bond since you’re engaging with them on a deeper level.

Part of understanding your customers’ needs and wants is by asking questions.

  • What makes them tick?
  • What are their favorite forms of entertainment?
  • How can you grow more collaboratively even beyond just discussing your products and services?
  • Are you all fans of the latest box office action hit?
  • Do you all like superheroes?

Since we are all human, we can find common ground in many areas. When your customers trust you as a person, they are more likely to be loyal to your brand.

Even if they don’t directly interact with you, they are watching how you engage with others. If they like what they see, you can be assured you’ll have an increasing customer base.

Final Thought

Your marketing strategy must be personal, unique, and relatable. Think of authentic marketing as a reflection of your company’s personality and soul.

You can’t just stick to sending customers impersonal data points on your products and services. They want to be pulled in by your personality, wit and banter. In a sense, marketing is now a lot more fun and real.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.

Author: Ryan Stewart

Ryan Stewart is a digital marketing consultant with over 8 years of experience working to help Fortune 500 brands grow their online presence. He currently resides in Miami, where he owns boutique creative agency WEBRIS. You can find Ryan on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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