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Authenticity is all in the walk – not the talk

In terms of being authentic, actions speak louder than words, writes Fi Bendall.

Effortlessly cool people don’t talk about how cool they are. They know that to acknowledge their cool immediately negates it. Once you draw attention to it, the magic is gone.

The same goes for brands and their obsession with being seen as authentic. Whenever a brand starts talking about its credentials in terms of authenticity most consumers get a whiffy sense that things may not be quite as authentic as the brand would have you believe.

Consumers are exposed to hundreds, possibly even thousands, of ads and marketing messages a day. Contrary to what some marketing people still think, consumers have developed a pretty canny BS detector.

This is why we’ve seen a rise in tactics like influencer marketing and other social media-based strategies, as brands try to step away from the old paradigm of hard and soft sell to something approaching a conversation with consumers.

Basic honesty and truth in what you claim as a brand is important because consumers will poke holes in your inconsistencies in the space it takes to write a scathing Facebook comment. And once the recommendation/condemnation social ecosystem kicks in, it’s very hard to control where that narrative goes. Better that you play it straight rather than get found out and ridiculed or boycotted by consumers.

That means if you’re thinking about how to position your brand and what your message is to consumers, you have to think even more about what you do than what you say. That’s where authenticity really shines through.

Consumers have a wealth of information at their fingertips and they voraciously read reviews and the recommendations of those they trust before purchasing almost anything.

People don’t talk about the effectiveness of your marketing message (unless they’re marketers talking among themselves), they talk about does this product do what it says, is this service all it’s cracked up to be, am I getting value for money? That’s all about the walk, not the talk.

If you want consumers to view your brand as authentic, don’t tell them to do so; consistently do what you do well and consumers will recognise you for it. And they’ll more than likely tell their friends and family about it, too.

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