Be authentic, I beg you

I’m sat here preparing a presentation for an upcoming speaking engagement on authenticity. I decided on this controversial topic after spending many years witnessing businesses who broadcast loudly about their values and goals but don’t actually follow through on them. You know the ones – we are client centric, we are digital first etc. But no we can’t invest in digital technology this year as it will take money away from press advertising and we do love our customers but not at the expense of our profit.

Now don’t misunderstand me, press advertising is not bad. I’m not the kind of digital evangelist who will tell you that offline marketing is dead – it certainly is not. Press advertising, as with TV, radio, direct mail and outdoor all have their place for many businesses. And profit is perfectly acceptable as a primary goal for your business. You may need to meet certain levels for your shareholders or you are simply striving for growth – again no harm in either of these approaches. The issue is pretending you’re client focused when you’re actually profit focused or digital focused when you’re clearly not.

This got me thinking about authenticity from a content perspective. Most content marketers (which should be almost all of us these days) will agree that authentic content is important. Speaking with authority on a subject that is meaningful and relevant to you and your readers is crucial but what I had never considered before is that readers won’t simply find it frustrating that your content is not authentic but they may even get annoyed. In the same way that it can be extremely irritating for an employee who isn’t supported by their business despite the noises they’re making, it can be equally annoying for a user.

Do you want to annoy your users, customers or employees? Obviously not. So that’s why we all need to ensure we’re honest with ourselves and are authentic.

That’s what’s been going through my mind this evening. Maybe time for a glass of wine.

Read more about appropriate goals, vision statements and branding in my book, Digital Marketing Strategy.

Buy Digital Marketing Strategy by Simon Kingsnorth