In 1969, Coca-Cola came up with the slogan, “It’s the real thing.” Of the 18 or so major slogan changes since then, “real” has been used in more than 22% of them. When a company with a marketing budget bigger than the GNP of many small countries goes back to a theme that often, you know there’s a reason.
The reason, as we’ve seen so clearly in recent years, is that people want to do business with companies that are real, genuine, authentic. They have always wanted that, but as social media makes it increasingly easy to call out companies when they are phony, ungenuine, and unreliable, people are now getting their wish.
Want to know if a company’s products are as good as they say? Just throw the question out there on your favorite social media channel and you’ll quickly get plenty of opinions. Now, of course, you need to be able to weed out those people who have an axe to grind or who have a vested interest in the company’s success. But when you find those folks who seem to be sharing rational, reasonable reviews, you can use their input to help shape your decision.
You (Better) Be You
So, as a company, your best strategy (you might say, your only strategy) is to be authentic. Why does authenticity work? The blog Kissmetrics summed it up nicely in this list:
- It elevates your business above the competition.
- It builds your identity and image into something influential.
- It gives substance to your business, services, and products.
- It enables people to relate to your business.
- It helps people understand how what you offer is of benefit to them.
- It tells people that what you offer is of high-quality.
- It marks you out as a reliable, trustworthy company.
- It encourages engagement and can turn audiences into advocates.
But, Who Are You?
How do you find your company’s authentic self? While there are complicated, time-consuming, and expensive processes you can go through to systematically determine who you are, an informal assessment can often provide just as much insight.
Watch and listen at your next company potluck. Do attendees (especially executives) demonstrate a great sense of humor? Or are they serious, just-the-facts kind of folks? Do you hear people tossing around crazy, out-of-left field (some might say “visionary”) ideas about your company? Or is there a more conservative tone?
If you pay close attention, fairly quickly, you’ll be able to say, “Yeah, that’s who we are.” Great! Write a brief description of those attributes as if you were describing a person. THAT is who your customers and prospects want to interact with. THAT is who they want to confide in and share their struggles with.
Now comes the hard part. Everything you do—from blog posts to content marketing to product packaging—should be influenced by those attributes. The more consistent you can be in showing the world your authentic self, the more your audience will trust you. And the distance between a trusting prospect and a loyal customer is very short, indeed. Then, your authentic connection has generated real success.