What is “Authentic” Marketing?

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Photo by Patricia Prudente on Unsplash

A colleague asked why I qualify “marketing” with “authentic”…

What do I mean by authentic marketing?

Simply put, it’s about honesty.

Authentic marketing is about not pretending:

To be truthful about where we are in our journey (instead of suggesting we are farther along, or to try to impress), or that we are a bigger company, or more polished than we usually are in everyday interactions with our clients.

Let’s apply this at 2 levels:

  • In selling a product or service, authenticity is matching the marketing with what the typical buyer will experience (i.e. not using hype.)
  • In content, authenticity is finding and expressing one’s real voice, instead of trying to copy someone else’s style because they seem successful.

Authentic Selling

Maybe you’ve had this experience:

A service or product is supposed to be “life changing” — it will make you a 7-figure income, bring you true love, or heal all your ailments.

Sounds amazing… why not try it, right?

You buy and try it. After awhile, you realized you’ve been duped again.

(Or maybe later, you’ve forgotten those initial promises because you’re already onto the next shiny new product!)

Selling with hype is often used by marketers because it works. And that is why a lot of selling you might experience is not authentic.

Human-beings, especially good-hearted people, can be easily tricked by marketing. We want to believe in others’ integrity. We wish to trust others. It’s only after multiple disappointing experiences (sometimes losing thousands of dollars) does someone become a skeptical buyer.

Hype-selling works in the short-term, so marketers keep using it, unaware of the negative effect on their long-term brand loyalty.

As authentic marketers, we care about the long-term. It’s good for business. It’s also essential for a healthy conscience. (Our heart won’t let us do otherwise.)

It feels “off” to lie. It’s contrary to our higher values, so we feel badly when we do it. Telling the truth is simply the most sustainable marketing strategy for our inner life, as well as for our business in the long-term.

However, it takes courage initially to tell the truth… but eventually, buyers/clients will see that we are different, and worth sharing with others.

How to do authentic selling?

  1. Carefully observe what promises we are making in our marketing materials (e.g. our website) and in our conversations with potential buyers. Are those promises frequently experienced by the typical buyer of our service/product? Or are we only telling the rare success stories while most of our buyers experience mediocrity? This means we are dedicated to diligently improving our product so that the average buyer’s experience gets better over time. We become genuinely passionate about the result of our products and selling becomes both effective and authentic.
  2. Notice our intentions: When we say we care about the potential client, are we being authentic, or just using it as a way to make more sales? If we authentically care, then we will sometimes decline a client (or refer them onward) when we see that we aren’t the best ones to serve them.

Authentic Content

This is the other major component of authentic marketing.

When it comes to our content, “fake it ’til you make it” is terrible advice.

In our videos, are we trying hard to look polished? To seem more successful than we actually are?

A good rule for authentic content: Be as you would be with an ideal client.

When you’re with an ideal client, you don’t need to posture in any way, or to seem like you’ve got everything together. They hope you’ll be comfortable as you work with them so that you can express your unique genius. They like what you do naturally!

Imagine that person when you make content. Make your content for them.

Be comfortable, so that your real voice and genius can be expressed.

Be Your Best Authentic Self

Lastly, to be authentically yourself requires mindfulness.

Sometimes, you are authentically negative: angry, sad, fearful, desperate, etc.

Other times — usually when you’ve gotten enough sleep, aren’t hungry, and feeling loved — you are authentically courageous, naturally brilliant in your unique way, and genuinely caring.

This is the kind of authenticity I hope you will bring into your business and marketing: your best authentic self.

Therefore it is your responsibility to prioritize your self-care daily, so that you can be your strongest, kindest self in business and marketing.

Continue reading: My best articles about authentic marketing.

Written by

Authentic Business Coach & Author of 4 Books including "Authentic Content Marketing" and "Joyful Productivity" https://www.GeorgeKao.com

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