What is authentic marketing?
Sam Willet gravatar avitar

What is authentic marketing?

Author: Sam Willet | Posted on: 20 September 2017

Authenticity in art, sure, but marketing?

I’ve seen and heard this word ‘authentic’ cropping up more and more lately. Not in discussions about art or food, which might be more usual, but in conversations about marketing.

I’ve always loved a good authenticity debate. In my student days I remember studying popular music of all things (yes, I went to a real university), and a particular essay about the tension between authenticity and commerce really captured my interest. I won’t go into it in detail here, but when it comes to ‘art’, particularly music, people do care. They want to feel like they know the artist, that what they are hearing or seeing has been produced for a reason above any commercial considerations. Consumers crave extrinsic value, so they can validate their choices and feel good about them.

But authentic marketing? Surely marketing, of all things, is by its very nature inauthentic, a form of spin, more about promise than reality.

That might have been the case in the past, but not anymore. I don’t want to draw any grand conclusions here - I don’t believe people are becoming more honest or moral, or that this is a reaction to the post-truth, fake news time we find ourselves in.

What I will say is that marketers will follow whatever strategy gets results. And today, when anyone can instantly search thousands of news stories on a given brand, it pays to be true. If you want your business to grow to any sort of size, authenticity is vitally important. But how do you do it? Well, you can start by following these three maxims:

1) Communicate a consistent brand identity

  • Make sure you have control over your voice as a company. The tsars of voice are of course your marketing team - Whether they’re internal or you outsource, you need to make sure that your site editor, copywriters and video producers are creating content which is coherent and consistent.
  • As I mentioned in my previous blog, having a mission will crystallise your voice and make it obvious to everyone what you stand for.


Dove's content is a great example of authentic marketing in action

2) Be data-driven and customer-centric

  • Use data to gain insights into where their customers are coming from and what they’re responding to best.
  • Always ask permission for your client’s data and give them something in return, or let them know you’re doing it to improve your services.
  • If you’re not sure what your customers want or if they’re happy with the service they’ve received, ask them! There’s no excuse for not doing this, especially if you know your customers personally.

3) Be transparent

  • Answer customer questions, and make your answers public. Try to avoid convoluted answers, jargon, and legal speak if at all possible. If it has to be more than a few sentences, then your answer isn’t good enough.
  • Explain why, particularly when it comes to pricing.
  • Finally, admit to mistakes. Everybody makes them, and you can almost always make up for them.

Be cynical if you like, but I believe we live in a time where honesty pays. Best of all, adhering to the above principles will help you to promote your business sustainably. If your customers genuinely respect you because of your track record as an authentic organisation, that’s when you move from being a commodity to being a sustainable brand.

Author: Sam Willet

Sam Willet gravatar avitar
Sam is a Producer and Client Manager at Ember Television. He has worked in online media since graduating with an MA in Film and TV from the University of Birmingham, and loves a good human interest story. You can contact him at [email protected] https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=294919697&authType=name&authToken=k-zK&trk=prof-proj-cc-name https://twitter.com/ember_samw
What is authentic marketing?



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