It may seem self-evident, but messages that consumers perceive as genuine and sincere will generally connect better and produce better results. Customers tend to respect companies that stand behind their public statements and produce advertising that reflects their standards and ideals.
Advertisers have long known about the power of authenticity in marketing. However, they have a history of approaching authentic marketing in the wrong way.
Read on to learn more about modern authentic marketing and its rapidly increasing importance in today’s fast-paced and digitally driven consumer environment.
What is Authentic Marketing?
Briefly defined, authentic marketing is a specific approach to a marketing strategy that involves establishing and maintaining a natural resonance with your target market through honest, genuine, and unaffected communication. This approach makes it relatively easy to connect with new consumer leads who appreciate your authentic company vision. It also encourages repeat purchases and long-term brand loyalty among your existing customer-base. As long as you stay “on the same wavelength” with your audience, you can reasonably expect them to remain engaged with your informative and marketing-oriented content.
How Does Authenticity Relate to Marketing?
Since the birth of advertising, companies have been trying to convince consumers to buy goods and services through “authentic” messaging. After all, nobody is going to make a purchase based on a message that they perceive as disingenuous from a company that they perceive as insincere. In other words,
the inauthenticity has little to no value in the world of marketing.
However, the marketers of yesterday often took the wrong approach to connecting with consumers through authenticity. Even today, far too many attempt to fake sincerity through deceit and guile, getting paid spokespeople and actors to say what they think the customer wants to hear even though they don’t believe it themselves. When marketers take this approach, they ultimately spend a tremendous amount of time, energy, and money presenting brand images to consumers that couldn’t be more different than the companies these brand images supposedly represent.
Today, however, authentic marketing means something quite different. Stressing transparency over spin, the modern marketer seeks authenticity through proper target consumer selection rather than dishonest brand messaging. In other words, authentic marketing involves targeting audiences with as much precision as possible to reach only consumers who are interested in what your company genuinely and sincerely has to offer. To think about it from the opposite angle, these consumers allow your company to be its authentic self.
Seven Things You Need to Know About Authentic Marketing
With these authentic marketing basics in mind, you should consider the following facts before developing any marketing plan or launching an advertising campaign of any considerable size or scope:
1. Authentic Marketing Comes with Many Benefits
Authentic marketing isn’t a pure matter of honesty or ethics. It is a strategic approach that allows you to pinpoint your ideal consumer and deliver a message that resonates based on your genuine company ethos (a term from ancient Greek rhetoric that means “character” or “spirit”).
The importance of authenticity simply cannot be underestimated in the digital marketing world. Through your company website, social media pages, and other digital channels, you have the potential to reach out to a highly specific target consumer audience in an extremely precise and cost-effective manner.
The ability to reach this consumer audience where they already are and speak directly to them in a language that they can readily understand is one of the best benefits of authentic marketing. This ability to engage with consumers on their own level leads to countless competitive advantages, from boosting conversions, leads, and sales rates to improving customer retention and customer loyalty. Of course, it is important to emphasize that the authentic marketing approach is only truly effective if the company image and its products and services, consumer messaging, and target consumer are both compatible and well-understood.
2. Authentic Marketing Comes with Many Challenges
Authentic marketing only works when you connect with the specific markets that allow your business to be its actual and natural self. To do this, you must craft targeted marketing messages highlighting your authenticity.
Composing and delivering messages in an authentic way is one of the primary challenges for authentic marketing professionals. After all, if you are modeling your marketing efforts on the idea that you “get” the wants and needs of your target audience as well as the attitude and values that underlie them, you will want to make sure that the consumers who share your values “get” you.
Connecting with your target consumer audience is even more important in the world of authentic marketing. Because your company is only reaching out to a very specific target consumer, you must ensure that you hit that target. Authentic marketing strategy dictates that you must deliberately avoid any audience or market that will not allow you to communicate in your authentic voice.
3. Authenticity Is the Future of Marketing
Coupled with an increased emphasis on consumer personalization, authenticity will play an increasingly powerful role in the marketing world for some time to come.
As reported by Forbes Magazine, nine out of ten people cite authenticity as an important factor when it comes to choosing among competing brands in the consumer marketplace. And this feeling is even stronger among younger consumer generations such as Millennials and Gen Z. Comprising a combined total of almost 140 million people, Millennials and Gen Z “prefer brands that are ‘real and organic’ as opposed to ‘perfect and well-packaged,’’ according to Forbes.
The ongoing prevalence of social media marketing also bodes well for the future of authenticity in the marketing world. Beyond its amazing ability to reach specific target consumers with greater precision, social media has a highly personal nature that makes it an ideal marketing channel for authentic messages.
As social media marketing expert Nicole King puts it, “In a crowded social media landscape, brands that can create personalized and authentic content will stand out.” Beyond personalized messaging, she singles out influencer marketing and user-generated content among the many strategies that you can use to connect with social media users in an authentic and meaningful way.
4. Authentic Marketing Builds Trust
Establishing and maintaining trust is essential in the marking process. Because the modern consumer is extremely savvy and somewhat cynical when it comes to consuming marketing messages, trying to build trust with this consumer can be tricky, to say the least.
In his recent Entrepreneur article “How to Ensure Authenticity in Marketing and Build a Loyal Audience,” Insightly Chief Marketing Officer Chip House explains the importance of authentic marketing to any company that seeks higher levels of consumer trust. “In today's market, people aren't doing business solely based on products and services,” writes House. “Who your brand is at its core — the values you stand for, the image you project, the way you interact with customers — matters just as much.”
By taking the authentic marketing approach, you can connect with a consumer audience that is receptive to your genuine company identity and voice. This gives you an unparalleled opportunity to lay a firm foundation of trust.
5. Authentic Marketing Demands Authentic Content
The first step in the development of authentic content is knowing where to engage with consumers. By reaching out only to the consumers who are most likely to appreciate your authentic company vision and brand image, you have already won half the battle when it comes to generating authentic content.
With an appreciative audience, you can be open about your company and its mission, values, and products or services. Beyond offering full transparency, authentic marketing experts recommend empathizing with the struggles of your target audience and sharing their joys. Welcoming direct consumer feedback is a key element of these efforts.
By listening to your consumer base and sharing their sentiments, you can highlight specific products, services, and brand features that are tailor-made for them. Emphasize the features that are most distinctive to your company. One of the key touchstones of authenticity is originality. From language to graphics, make sure that every element in your marketing campaign stresses your uniqueness.
6. Authentic Marketing Drives Branding Efforts
Few marketing approaches are better at establishing brand awareness and solidifying brand loyalty as the authentic marketing approach. Anyone who has ever told a lie knows just how difficult it can be to follow through on that lie and maintain false appearances.
If your brand image is a genuine reflection of the company behind it, that will resonate with your target consumer. To maximize the branding benefits of an authentic marketing approach, make sure that campaign content and messaging are thoroughly consistent and reflective of your company and its values. Let your unique brand voice permeate every aspect of your marketing campaign.
As previously discussed, soliciting consumer feedback is an important piece of the authentic marketing puzzle. By soliciting feedback from your existing and prospective customers, you can gain a far better understanding of your target audience. In turn, a better understanding of your target audience will allow you to reach out to them more effectively using an authentic approach.
This reciprocal cycle can do wonders when it comes to building trust, developing connections, and driving company growth and profits. Much like a human relationship, your authentic marketing efforts will only deepen as your company and your target get to know each other better!
Take the Next Step with Lindenwood University Online!
Of course, it takes a tremendous amount of professional expertise to plan, launch, and run an effective authentic marketing campaign. And you can gain this expertise through a high-quality marketing education at Lindenwood University Online.
In addition to our bachelor’s degree in general marketing, we offer both a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Digital Marketing, as well as an MBA program. And because our courses are 100% online, you can pursue these degrees from just about anywhere.
For more information about Lindenwood University Online and our various programs, request more information today.