Authentic marketing is no longer optional—it’s necessary. It’s no longer enough to entice and attract. Modern, post-COVID consumers want more. They’re inundated with digital messaging, social media, and non-stop content. To cut through the noise, you need to share an authentic brand story and add actual value to their lives—not just pitch your product or service.
In fact, 90 percent of consumers surveyed by Stackla said authenticity is important to them when deciding the brands they both like and support. Yet, 51 percent of surveyed consumers say less than half of brands create content that resonates as authentic.
There are multiple ways to bring more authenticity in your marketing, which is why you need a cohesive strategy to bring them all together. Our complete authentic marketing guide will help you take it step-by-step.
Backed by recent research and data, we’ve broken down how you can ensure your content, graphics, social media posts—anything you create and share with the world—is authentic while also resonating with your audience and aligning with your overall business goals.
Note that each section also includes a link to an article that will allow you to dig deeper into that area of authentic marketing, so don’t forget to check each of those out too.
Build Community by Staying Relevant
Modern consumers want to support brands with real people and real feelings. Additionally, they want to feel like they’re a part of a larger community.
To build this community that keeps them coming back, you need to speak from your heart, promote your values, and come from a place of service-mindset. To do so, you may need to discuss important, relevant topics, like those things once-considered taboo, including politics, culture, social movements.
According to Sprout Social, 78 percent of social media users want brands to use social to bring them together and help connect with one another. Your audience craves that dialogue, and you can be the one to start it or fall behind the brands who are. In fact, Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report found that consumers (whether B2C or B2B) want companies to address ethics-related and current events:
- 76 percent want companies to advocate for equal rights
- 73 percent are more loyal to companies that value equality
- 68 percent won’t support or buy from companies with poor ethics
Instead of skating over what might be a difficult topic to broach, foster a connection with your community by tackling these issues head on, using your brand values as guideposts. The goal is to connect and be human while adding value and giving your audience a space to connect safely and openly.
Take this topic a step further by digging into Community Building: How to Cultivate Connection with Authentic Content. One of the places where you need to create the most authentic marketing content is social media. You can use the content you create to cultivate connection and give consumers a reason to support your brand with the practical tips in this article.
Get Your Mindset Right
In marketing, whether you’re a solopreneur, marketing manager, or otherwise, your mindset plays a role in everything you create. When you come from a place of confidence, curiosity, and excitement, it translates to content that’s innovative, relevant and strong. Consider the opposite—what’s the experience you provide if you’re creating content and connecting with followers from a place of fear, uncertainty or annoyance.
That same Salesforce report found that 83 percent of consumers say the experience a company provides is just as important as its product and services. When you’re in the right mindset, you provide an experience for your audience, rather than just pushy and obvious marketing content. To be authentic, you have to genuinely be coming from an authentic place.
Here are a few places to start with marketing mindset:
- As a marketing manager, check in with your team. Are they feeling supported? Do they have the freedom to innovate and try new things? This allows them to bring the most authentic and powerful version of your brand to the world.
- As a solopreneur, are you struggling to feel confident with connecting? Are you frustrated because you’re not seeing progress? Take a step back and zoom out. Where do you need support? Who do you need to ask for help? Getting a better grasp on the how of marketing will allow you to bring your authentic self through more effectively because you’re not bogged down with stress and anxiety.
I believe you can’t have a great marketing strategy without a great mindset. That’s why I created the Marketing From the Gut: Instagram Marketing Course, created for female entrepreneurs and marketers who are looking to finally understand Instagram strategy, while also moving through the many mindset blocks around marketing, like fear and doubt. For just $75, you get 5 learning modules, 10+ videos and multiple templates to help you get organized.
Sell With Authenticity (And UGC)
Selling can feel challenging, unnatural, pushy, and, let’s be honest—exhausting. But it doesn’t have to. Sales and marketing go hand-in-hand. When you aim to connect with and add value to your audience with authentic marketing, selling happens much more organically.
In other words, when people feel more connected to your brand, and you’re having authentic conversations, they’re more likely to want to support you by purchasing your products and services.
One way to develop more authentic marketing experiences that drive sales is to focus on user generated content (UGC). This includes written or video testimonials, re-posted photos from customers, case studies, and even contributed blog posts.
The same Stackla survey found that 79 percent of consumers say UGC “highly impacts their purchasing decisions.” And yet again, brands are missing the mark on this with only 13 percent of respondents saying content from brands is impactful.
Don’t just develop authentic content—develop content that has an impact. That provides value, takes a stance and brings consumers into your world.
There are two articles we think would be best to help you dig deeper into the subject of selling and UGC. The first is, Instagram Marketing for the Spiritual Entrepreneur: How to Connect and Sell. Even if you’re not a spiritual entrepreneur, a foundation of strong brand pillars, authentic selling through DMs and more will set you up for success.
Secondly, we want you to check out, How to Leverage User Generated Content for Small Business. This may seem like a tactic reserved for companies like Nike or Apple, but even a small local business can leverage UGC for authentic marketing.
Be a Storyteller
Stanford’s VMware Women’s Leadership Innovation Lab tells us that stories are remembered 22 times more than just facts alone. A scientific study explains the effectiveness of storytelling: “being easily digested by the human brain, stories help bridging between our logos and pathos; when an audience becomes emotionally receptive of facts, chances increase that they will respond and act on the knowledge.”
Everything you create should tell a story. When you focus on sharing a complete narrative, it helps you ground your posts in authenticity. It also brings depth to your content. Instead of simply sharing a tip or idea, share your insights or personal story behind that idea.
For example, when I share on social media, I often start with a personal story about the general topic and then end with tips or insights for my audience to take home with them. This gives them both a connection point and something to focus on for themselves. See what I mean:
If you’re struggling to bring your personal or brand story into your marketing, use this guide, How to Tell Your Story to Attract More Coaching Clients, as a starting point. Whether you sell products or a coaching service, the strategies are the same, specifically understanding they key elements of a great story. Dive in and hone your storytelling skills.
Get Your Thought Leadership Messaging Right
So often, marketing forces an idea or concept, but you have no idea who’s telling that story. Think of the Instagram ads you see proclaiming that you must overhaul your skincare regime, start a coaching program, or buy the latest sustainable clothing. You might think: Who is even talking to me? Who is this brand?
Thought leadership content allows you to share your insights, products and services in a more authentic way. More importantly, it allows you to build credibility and proves that you know what you’re talking about so when you promote a product or service, people know they can trust you.
Thought leadership content can be created via social media, guest posting, contributing to relevant journals, or even publishing on your own blog. At the end of the day, you simply need to be sharing your unique insights and experience with your audience so they feel they can know, like and trust you—and your brand.
Build your thought leadership strategy with the 5 Pillars of a Thought Leadership Strategy for Business Leaders. This isn’t a one-and-done thing. It’s an on-going part of your authentic marketing plan, so having a clear strategy in place is key. If you want to create more thought leadership to achieve your authentic marketing strategy but don’t have the time to actually write, check out our guide, How to Hire a Ghostwriter to Boost Thought Leadership.
Truly Know Your Audience
If you feel like understanding your audience can be hard to do, you’re alone. A recent report from Typeset and Mantis Research found that knowing what their audience wants to read is one of the top two issues businesses face during content creation.
Invest in research regularly to get to know your target audience—their likes, dislikes, beliefs, and behaviors. When you understand those who consume your content and support your brand, you can ensure your messaging resonates making this a non-negotiable part of authentic marketing.
This is especially important if you’re targeting younger demographics. A recent report found that 83 percent of millennials want companies to align with their values and 76 percent want CEOs to speak about issues they care about.
The best way to get to know your audience and the content they want to consume is to do audience research. If you’re not sure where to start, our article, How to Do Audience Research and Analysis for Your Blog, will walk you through the process so you can truly understand your audience once and for all.
Don’t Ignore Authentic Marketing Any Longer
An authentic marketing strategy will take you a lot further than pushy ads or glossy photos in today’s consumer-driven world. Don’t get left behind with old, static marketing tactics. Use these ideas to update your marketing strategy so you can actually reach consumers and give them a reason to work with you or buy from you. They want to engage—you just have to give them a reason to do so.