Authenticity Starts At Home
22 October 2020
(I've written this with B2B in mind, there's enough stuff out there about B2C and big consumer brands.)
Authenticity; it’s a word that’s been synonymous with marketing for several years now, compounded when every Tom, Dick and Harriet was given a voice on the web and could call your brand out publicly.
But, it’s worth remembering, authenticity is not a marketing ‘thing’: It’s a values thing.
It’s the DNA of your brand.
Authenticity comes down to the ability of your organisation and its people to deliver your values consistently; whether it’s to customers, suppliers, or staff; wherever they are on the ‘sales’ cycle.
Authenticity isn’t something you say in a pitch and don’t deliver on. It’s not something you talk about on your LinkedIn profile. It’s not even something you can control. All you really have is the ability to create a culture for realistic values to thrive (and they must be realistic). But, ultimately, ‘the people’ will decide.
Imagine coming into contact with a company that tells you they a people business but don’t respond to any communication you make on a follow-up. Or a premium brand which turns out to be shoddy with no support.
It creates a disconnect.
It’s why we get pissed off with ‘help’ lines. They aren’t actually designed to help customers; they are designed to save companies money.
The USP has been dead for a long time; well, the U-part has. Companies continue to do what they think is right – say what they think people want to hear – rather than create an authentic Sales Proposition.
The truth is – especially in B2B – businesses tend to make most of their profit out of a particular type of customer. As businesses, we try and overlay our own thought processes as to why they bought from us, when in fact the buyer usually has a very personal motivation such as wanting to look good/intelligent to their boss.
But, if we at least know the type of customers that make us money, and have genuine conversations with them to look for similarities, we can use this to shape our values. After all, they ARE there; we just may not know what they are yet to able to define them.
Take me as an example. I’m one person, so it’s straightforward.
My best and most profitable clients know I offer value as they’ve been used to agencies and the way they charge. I very often tell them not to spend money as well, so they trust me. It takes time, but it’s a strong bond.
I have also proven that I work to understand their business to the point where I get it enough to be able to sell it and know enough about the commercials.
They also know they can call me at 6 am or at a weekend and I’ll probably pick up, or at least get back to them quickly.
We’ve not even got to the actual product itself yet, but already there is a shape. As my clients tend to be business owners of SME’s, I can start to hone my messaging accordingly.
It’s not for everyone, and some people will hate it, but it results in profitable relationships for me, and the people that choose me.
How can I describe it as values?
Smoothing The Path
It’s easy for me to define these values now, I’m one person. I’ve worked with teams before, and it’s hard. It’s a constant sell to the people – where actions speak louder than words.
But, by leading through example, you create permission.
By concentrating on creating processes within your organisation, you can develop a values-based organisation, which develops a stronger, consistent and memorable brand.
The funny thing is, you already have a values-based business. They may just not be the values you’d be very happy with.
So, why not take control of the part of the puzzle you can control?