Authentic marketing is discussed as being a good thing.
But it’s said like a known thing, like we know how to do it and are just debating whether we should or not. Not true. Recently I was asked by a very earnest artistic entrepreneur just HOW she could be authentic in her marketing.
I froze for a second as my brain computed new information. This woman was actually asking me HOW she could be HER in HER marketing. I was caught in my own thoughts as I thought about how to answer her. She was after all, sitting here in front of me presumably being HER in this moment. And I’m guessing she is generally HER in the work she does for her clients.
So why do we question HOW to be authentic in our marketing if we ourselves are doing the marketing?
Because we’ve all grown up in an era where marketing has meant “dressing something up” to sell. We’ve been told that our success will come from how well we “package” our services, “brand” our identity, or “deliver” our message.
No wonder we aren’t sure what the heck that means for us solopreneurs or heads of communities. We ARE undeniably human with contradictions, messy emotions, and lots of mystery. Given that, we ARE NOT sure just how to stuff that into the right package.
Add the pressure of needing that pretty package to sell for our very livelihood, and bingo, there’s the question of exactly HOW that’s supposed to go.
Authentic marketing is not the package but rather what’s inside the package. It’s about who you are being rather than what you are doing.
When you just try to package yourself prettily, but don’t bring your full self to the your marketing, you have a more difficult time getting a consistent response. When you default to not being personal your marketing (here’s my service that does xyz—wanna buy it?) you make it harder to get hired.
Turns out that being authentic in our marketing IS a good thing. It lets you offer more value, be more profitable, and have more enjoyable workdays. It’s also becoming more important to the market. 90% of millennials want authenticity from the brands they purchase from vs. only 80% of baby boomers.
Here are three thoughts to help you understand HOW to be authentic in your marketing:
- Authenticity in brands is seen by customers as the difference between “real” and “fake.” This is important to big companies because it suggests they should encourage real people to share their real stories about their products rather than carefully constructed advertising and other kinds of marketing that are seen as “fake.” But for us small businesses it brings another message—be the real you in both your business and your marketing. This suggests a fullness that was missing in business when we were growing up. This means you show up in your business not trying to be what you think others want you to be, and sharing as much of the real you as is appropriate to any given circumstance. I’ve seen time and time again when a small business owner is willing to share a little of themselves—their struggles, their values, and their hopes—they have an easier time in their businesses.
- Authenticity in marketing simply means having a point of view and sharing it to the best of your ability. It’s saying and sharing what you believe. What you really believe, not what you think you should say. It’s not about convincing, persuading, or merging with another. It comes from the inside out. This is similar to how you are in relationships, from colleagues to family and friends. When you show up with your real opinions, share them in kind ways that consider who you are delivering them to, you generally create good connections with others. Maybe not everyone likes you or wants to be close, but they basically see you and what you’re about. And with some, you then create magical, deep relationships because what you share fits beautifully with how they see the world.
- Alignment is the core of authenticity. When your products and services (or what you offer) are aligned with your values, who you are as a person, and who you want to serve, then it’s easier to talk about it in ways that feel good to you. It’s easier to be the real you because there is alignment between the inner and the outer. This often means shedding some inner baggage though. Lack of self worth, old wounds, and limiting beliefs/stories you’re still carrying around can kill authenticity because they throw off your alignment. Rather than sitting in your real value, this old stuff can cause you to think you need to be someone else, or cause you to doubt that the real you is acceptable to the outer world. It’s hard to be authentic when you are afraid you’re an imposter.
In the end, the answer is to the question of how to be authentic in your marketing is simple: be your real self. But like all of life, though the answer may be simple (get more sleep, eat healthy food, exercise more) putting it into practice takes a little learning, determination and practice. So go easy on yourself and allow this to unfold with a little grace and ease. The real you will thank you.
Linda believes that small business owners can step into a better version of their business when they embrace authenticity and become more fully themselves. Her 25-year marketing career has included Kimpton Hotels, Jamba Juice, and Disney helping her clients win awards and placements in publications like The Wall Street Journal and TIME Magazine, as well as on the front cover of WIRED magazine. You can visit her website here: lindabasso.com or join her FB conversation.