“Authenticity” is a trendy marketing buzzword that is oftentimes bandied about by pierced, skinny-jeaned, way-too-hip-for-the-glass-walled-conference-room ad execs.
But what does it MEAN?
Be what you say you are.
Not what you aspire to be. Not what you desire others to think.
Be yourself. Warts and all.
Simple? Yes. Easy? Not always.
Here are three tips to help you sound more authentic in your ads:
1. Stop Using Clichés. Clichés are commercial killers. Nothing will make a listener, reader, or viewer tune out faster than cramming your ads with a bunch of overused, overworked, hackneyed, predictable, unoriginal, and uninspired phrases that they’ve previously heard approximately 2.4 zillion times.
Clichés are empty promises that you’ll never, EVER be able to keep. “Lowest prices,” “best selection,” and “service second to none” used to mean something…fifty years ago. Nowadays, these phrases are nothing more than filler for advertisers who a) don’t have anything important to say, or b) are unwilling to say anything semi-original.
(The owner of a car dealership once vetoed my ad campaign because it was TOO different from his competitior’s ads. I’m sorry, Mr. “Low Overhead and High Sales Volume” – how is that a bad thing?)
2. Be Transparent. Your customers appreciate honesty. You screwed up? Admit it. You’ve changed some important company policies? Promote them. You and your employees share a certain set of values. Celebrate them!
Do you run the risk of alienating some people? Sure. There will ALWAYS be someone out there who doesn’t agree with you. That’s why, as my partner Roy H. Williams says, “Most ads aren’t written to persuade. They’re written not to offend.”
On the flip side, however, you’ll be developing a deep connection with a certain segment of the population who appreciates honesty, integrity, and values. This is the type of loyal customer you want in your corner. Are you willing to risk insult to insure clarity?
WARNING: It can’t be faked. It HAS to be real. If you fake it, people will see through it. And, thanks to the tsunami that is social media, everyone will soon know you’re a big, fat phony.
3. Back up what you promise. I’ve met business owners who think the secret to success is to simply broadcast a good message.
Let me be crystal clear: Advertising will NOT make you successful. It will only accelerate what was going to happen anyway. Whether you have a solid company on the road to opulence or you’re destined to buy a “Going Out of Business” banner, good advertising will get you there in warp speed.
That being said, if you strive for authenticity in your advertising, the proof is in the pudding.
Are you keeping your word? Do you do what your ads say you do?
If you’re gonna say it, you gotta play it. Otherwise, it’s liar-liar-pants-on-fire.
What about your team? Are your employees aware of the promises made in your marketing campaign?
If not, how will they ever know if they’re breaking them?
“First you talk the talk. Then you talk the walk. Then you walk the talk. Then you walk the walk.” – Unknown