Why Authenticity in Marketing Wins Every Time

To be authentic by definition, is to ensure that something is “Truly what it is said to be.” When dealing interpersonally with customers, it is clear that over-promising and under-delivering never ends well for any business. It erodes trust, destroys reputation and leaves the consumer feeling cheated.

Yet in marketing, it is often posed as a trade-off, or an option to be explored. How far should/could we take liberties with headlines, email subject lines or imagery to generate a click, a lead or an impression.

You’ll see a suite of online service providers with hidden pricing, finding ways to hide behind their fine print and undisclosed fees. They’ve made a calculated decision that the ends justify the means. That the pursuit of the sale trumps the ongoing relationship and the brand sentiment after that initial cha-ching.

That may have worked historically, but it doesn’t work today. Here are 3 reasons why:

Increased access to competitors: In the digital age, a consumer in New York has many options for any service or provider they want. Use of a smartphone can give them every local provider nearby, or if appropriate, a provider on the other side of the country who provides their goods electronically or has shipping capability. The consumers are in control, and if your business isn’t authentic, consumers will find another that is. Fool me twice, shame on me: Consumers are smarter. They’ve seen the ploys and the games. Most, including myself, have fallen for them multiple times. Each one making the next purchasing decision more difficult out of fear of being misled again. While I’m confident the less authentic marketers will constantly find ways to bend the rules and find “the edge,” consumers and the virality of information flow from friend to friend generally shuts these down pretty quickly. Reputation is essential: Historically, a friend would tell a friend about a bad experience. It may make it further than that, but damage to a business could be limited. In today’s modern world, your online reputation is everything. A routine breakage of a customer’s trust will eliminate your ability to attract new business. Your advertising will cost more, be less efficient than your competitors. You may get the same eyeballs, but you will get fewer clicks. A sub 3-star business has a pretty rough road ahead unless they straighten up.

So, understanding the need and importance is one thing. But as a small business owner, how do I know if I’m truly being authentic? Below are some tips to review and consider as it relates to your ongoing marketing efforts:

Pricing: If your best work requires a proposal, say so. Don’t include a low introductory offer to get a click that will never end that way. If you can’t install a good pool for $5,000, then don’t include, “Pools starting at $5,000” on your website or in your emails. Instead convey the value you provide, such as strong construction, quality materials, certified craftsmanship.

In this category we’ve often seen, “Options for every budget.” Is this true? EVERY budget? What is your time worth? On one hand you could get more leads, but if they have unrealistic expectations, you’re banking on upselling them from the beginning.

Your goal should be “qualified” Leads. People who are legitimately in the market for the

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