How to Show Up Authentically in Your Business
Unleashing the Power of Authenticity to Create Lasting Impact
It is fair to say 2023 is the year our trust in institutions officially crumbles. It’s only mid-May 2023, and Twitter has already been through two management changes; engagement in Meta’s products continues to tank, and we’re all suspicious about whether the content we’re consuming is produced and regurgitated by robots parsing existing content on the web, or came from the beautiful human mind. It’s… a lot.
That is why now is the perfect time to revisit the topic of authenticity and how to leverage the power of authenticity to build a unique brand that your competitors cannot duplicate.
Before we begin, I did record a podcast that speaks precisely on how to leverage authenticity to elevate your branding. So, if audio is your preferred method of consuming content, head over to Spotify, Apple or our website to stream this episode directly. Now, let’s dive in.
As a marketer, I’ve seen first-hand the importance of building a brand that people can trust. What better way to do that than by being authentic to yourself? So, if you’re a micro business, small business owner, or an entrepreneur looking to build your brand, let’s start with what authenticity is and why it’s important.
What is Authenticity, and Why It’s Important?
Authenticity means being true to yourself, your values, and your beliefs. It’s about being transparent and honest in your actions and messaging.
Authenticity is crucial in your branding strategy because it can build trust and credibility with your audience. When people feel that you are genuine and sincere, they are more likely to connect with your brand on a deeper level.
And here’s the thing: authenticity is not the same as transparency. While transparency is about revealing information, authenticity is about showing your true self. In yoga, the practice of authenticity is about being true to oneself and living in the present moment. The same principles apply to branding. When building a brand, it’s important to stay true to your values, your mission, and your unique voice. Authenticity is not just a buzzword; it’s the foundation for building a strong and meaningful brand.
Benefits of Being Authentic in Your Branding Strategy
Now that we’ve established what is authenticity, let’s talk about the benefits of incorporating it into your branding strategy.
Authenticity can differentiate you from your competitors. When you stay true to yourself, you can create a unique brand that stands out in a crowded market.
Authenticity can also help you build a loyal customer base. When people connect with your brand on a deeper level, they are more likely to become loyal customers who will keep coming back for more.
Authenticity can drive engagement and customer loyalty. When people feel that they can trust your brand, they are more likely to engage with your content, share it with others, and become advocates for your brand.
How to Leverage Authenticity to Attract Target Audience?
Tell your brand story and show vulnerability.
When you share your journey and struggles, you can connect with your audience on a deeper level and build trust. However, there is a fine line between authenticity and contrived. Social media has made it incredibly easy for us to share and overshare. So, how do you walk the tightrope between authenticity and vulnerability without pandering or oversharing?
I suggest getting honest and accurate. Humanise your brand.
Imagine if your business is a person; what are they like? What do they like? What do they dislike? In the marketing world, this is called creating a brand persona. We create this persona also with your ideal customer’s persona in mind. Once you have that persona, that is the brand voice. Now, use that voice and get honest and real about your product or service. A great way to do that is to go behind the scenes. If you sell a product, share stories about how you make it. What are the challenges with it? Where did the materials come from? What inspired you to make that product? If you’re a service-based business, share the work that goes into creating your customer experience. Burning the midnight oil working on the course content? Post a Story with a little teaser of what content to come and what sparks the course.
What about sharing your personal life?
The rule of thumb I always use to overshare is: if you won’t send it to your grandma, don’t share it on social media. The same comes with sharing photos of your partner, family or children. Just because your competitor does it doesn’t mean you have to. If your family is okay with you sharing your weekend out-and-about or details on your business social — and if it aligns with your business — then go nuts! If this doesn’t feel right for you, don’t do it.
Be consistent in your messaging and actions.
When your actions align with your messaging, people will feel your brand is authentic and trustworthy. I follow a podcaster who champions slow fashion, and the reason I love listening to her podcast is because her action aligns with her vision. She’s also a realist and admits to buying new items here and there — but I noticed it’s not even that frequent anymore. So if you’re a long-time follower, you can see her growing and progressing as a slow fashion advocate while being relatable. On the other hand, how do we feel about influencers and companies who, on the one hand, preach about one thing but not following through?
Skip the call to action every now and then.
It sounds contradictory to marketing, which fundamentally is about creating an opportunity for sale. But not every interaction needs to turn into a quick sale or conversion. Try playing a long game and strike a balance between content meant to convert and content that is simply meant to connect with your audience. Create positive brand moments to create connections and make people feel part of your brand. They may not buy now, but trust me; you will be the first place they will go when they need whatever you have on offer.
Incorporate user-generated content
When you share content created by your customers, you can showcase the real-life experiences of people who use your product or service. This can get tricky if you are just starting out in your business like me.
A few ways to get customer feedback or user-generated content are:
hosting giveaways and sharing your knowledge are great ways to start. If you have a product-based business, host a giveaway and follow up with the winner to get a review or a photo of the winner using your product.
Participate in business groups where your potential customers live. Contribute to the conversation, engage with your audience, listen to their feedback and help people solve their problems that are your areas of expertise. Then, ask them for their feedback. It may take a few tries to get feedback, but keep persisting because user-generated content can be compelling in showing your brand authenticity.
Don’t be afraid to own up if you muck up.
We’ve all been there before — an accidental typo or a poorly articulated reply. We’re all humans, and it can happen to anyone. While your first instinct might be to delete the offending content, the not-so-secret is this: you can’t delete anything on the internet. So, if it’s an innocent typo, fix it, or add an “edit,” apologise and move on. Some of the more common mistakes I’ve seen in marketing are things like a scheduled email that went out earlier than scheduled, formatting errors, or missing information. It’s truly the type of stuff that keeps a marketer up at night!
If you have done all due diligence and mistakes still happen (and they will!): apologise. Send an apology email. If it’s a small enough mistake, you can even take a humorous or light-hearted approach. Perhaps this is an opportunity to connect with your customers: offer up some incentive, a small discount or offer as an apology to turn it around.
If it is a more serious mistake, a Freudian slip that has the potential brand and reputational damage, jump into PR mode immediately. Even in serious situations, owning up to the mistake and sincerely apologising can help repair some of the damage that’s already been done. Do what you can to fix the issue, and make sure your audience knows what you’ll do in the future to ensure it doesn’t happen again. If you are getting late-night anxiety and guilt over it, be reassured It’s only a matter of time before someone else does something unprofessional and the world moves onto that. But, and that is a big but, we have seen again and again, public figures getting checked for offensive and inappropriate tweets from years or even a decade ago. Some managed to move past it, but not all got the same redemption opportunity.
This is a good place to reiterate that: 1. Everything you put out or post on the internet is permanent 2. Again, if you won’t say it to your grandma, don’t say it, post it or share it!
When building a brand, it’s important to stay true to your values, your mission, and your unique voice. Authenticity is not just a buzzword; it’s the foundation for building a strong and meaningful brand. By being true to yourself and your values, you can create a brand that people can trust and connect with on a deeper level.
I would love to hear more about what you think about this topic of authenticity. What resonates with you? What do you disagree with? Share a comment.
If you’re interested to learn more about branding and marketing, check out my podcast, Sincerely Yours. I talk about all things marketing to encourage thoughtful marketing and meaningful conversation. Listen now on Apple Podcast, Amazon Music and Spotify. Let me know what you think!