Why You Need Authenticity in Your Content Marketing Now

Why You Need Authenticity in Your Content Marketing Now

Joe Pulizzi recently summed up Content Marketing World in two words: Be Authentic.

That means that throughout the conference, with over 3400 content marketers from around the world, the main theme that kept coming up was authenticity through content marketing.

This article explores why authenticity is important in your content marketing strategy and discusses best practices from other authentic brands.

Content marketing has always been as much of an art as it has been a science. Simply copying the successful strategy of another content marketer may bring positive results, but it is often almost as likely to net no benefits or even net negative results.

The main reason for this is that content marketing is directed at real people, who make decisions as much with their heart as they do with their heads, and increasingly these people want authenticity in their marketing.

From the days of the traveling salesman, who wooed customers with honeyed words that made potential customers feel like they could trust the product being sold, this has always been the case. But the modern generation, particularly millennials, simply don’t trust those honeyed words anymore.

They have been inundated with advertising their whole lives and see it for what it is: a base attempt to get their money. The millennial generation is tired of mock authenticity. This generation wants real authenticity from the companies it supports.

Importance of Millennials

If you engage in online content marketing, the importance of the millennial generation simply can’t be ignored. Members of the millennial generation spend more time online and more money online than members of any other generation.

Why You Need Authenticity in Your Content Marketing Now
Image Source: Business Insider

And the millennial generation is just a glimpse of what is coming. Generation Z, a generation that is still primarily composed of children and teenagers, is currently spending almost twice as much of its income online as millennials are.

Why You Need Authenticity in Your Content Marketing Now
Image Source: Business Insider

If content marketing strategies don’t adapt to the new generations of consumers, they are certain to fail.

Is Truth Authentic?

The question seems almost trivial, but oddly it isn’t. On a logical level, of course truth is authentic. But on a personal level, truth can often feel the least authentic. Simply providing facts and figures isn’t enough. Audiences are very aware of how easy it is to mislead, even when you are telling the complete truth.

You can’t just tell the truth. You need to convince your audience that you are telling the truth. As in many things in life, perception of truth matters as much as actual truth.

Speak Like a Customer

The simplest way to display your truth is to put your brand voice in the perspective of your audience, the customer. If your content feels like it is created by someone who has never used the product or service, it comes off as not being sincere.

One simple way to have your audience come on board with your true story is to describe the benefits in a way that feels likes a happy customer making a recommendation to friends. Similarly, images seem more authentic when they depict products that have been owned and used for some time, rather than a stale picture of a product that has never been used or has been dressed up to look good.

McDonald’s is a perfect example of a business that has oft been criticized for presenting a false image of its food in commercials, which is why it has recently sought to increase sales through increased transparency.

One of the best examples of a company speaking like a customer is Allstate. Even though the spokesman never claims to be a customer, he dresses casually, looks like an everyday average American, and tells folksy stories. All of these create the impression that he is just like the audience, which makes this form of marketing incredibly effective.

Even if you don’t engage in video marketing, these commercials offer an excellent template for how content marketing can connect with a customer base.

Authenticity Through Caring

Increasingly, customers are more likely to spend money on companies that care about their well-being and the well-being of society. This doesn’t mean that every business needs to run a program that uses profits to feed hungry children, but if you are marketing for one that does, you should definitely publicize that fact.

When I am writing content for a business, I always make sure to highlight any charitable acts of the business in order to help garner customer trust.

For the average business, though, showing caring means showing concern for the well-being of the customer.

For example, if you are marketing for window installations, you don’t just want to highlight the quality of the windows. You also want to highlight how installing new windows can help your customers save money on energy costs. It is a simple benefit, but it is important to customers, and by highlighting it, you show that you are thinking like a customer.

Authenticity is a Form of Trust

Once you decide to add authenticity to your content marketing, you have to be willing to commit to the long haul.

Authenticity is a form of trust, and like normal trust, all it takes is one misstep to lose it completely.

You pretty much have to start over from scratch if you ever present yourself in a way that isn’t authentic.

With that warning in mind, the benefits of earning this trust are already high and constantly growing. Authenticity appeals to every generation, especially the youngest, most tech savvy generations, and creates excellent brand loyalty. It is a strategy that is worth committing to today.

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Mickey has degrees in linguistics and logic from a top 25 university. He has been writing online for the approximately five years, specializing in gaming, hobbies, and media. He has never missed a deadline. Quality and speed are equally important to Mickey and he'll never sacrifice one for the other.

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