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Keeping it real - authenticity in content marketing

Be Authentic

In our latest Boost blog, Zara Smith from Boost & Co partner SQ Digital looks at the importance of 'keeping it real' when marketing your business. Marketing is like a Pokémon – it’s always evolving. Or at least the language surrounding it is. The hot word of today? ‘Authenticity’. More specifically, authenticity in content marketing. It’s a wild theory that has taken the marketing community by storm – you shouldn’t be lying to your customers.

Shocking! No, but seriously. So many customers are wary of marketing campaigns as it is, as authenticity is a key ingredient to help keep your business’ kitchen cooking. So, how can you ensure that your content marketing remains sweet as pie and contains that lauded ingredient of authenticity? (Here endeth all food metaphors, promise).

Authenticity Solidifies Trust

Authenticity in content marketing is simple; it’s the truth. It may seem obvious, but every piece of content that you put out into the world should be steeped in the cold, hard, truth. Content needs to be genuine and, ultimately, real. It sounds like just another buzzword – put any word before marketing and you’ll find that some people can’t seem to get past that old cherub.

‘Authentic’ also seems to be something that does not mesh well with ‘marketing’, which by definition is ‘the action of promoting and selling products or services.’ Whilst promotion and selling are both essential and necessary in modern business, too many would-be customers falsely equate it as a necessary evil (possibly because they’ve been burnt by trust gone awry). Lack of authenticity in marketing will only reinforce their new belief system. You must be above that: your brand’s name lies in the balance if you cannot be trusted.

To that end, authenticity is paramount.

Value is Equal to Sale

Too much content in the modern era is focused fundamentally on the result; be it a sale, a measurable conversion, or some other quantifiable success. We’re all guilty of it in the content industry: writing towards a call-to-action with bog-standard contact details instead of embarking on a value-adding task that betters the customer's user experience. Yes, there is a time and place for the former.

After all, you want your marketing campaign to be useful to you as well as your customer, but it doesn’t always have to be the driving force behind every word that you write. Am I writing this with the expressed purpose of selling you my excellent content writing services? Well, yes and no – therein lies the definition of authentic content marketing.

Sure, this blog is aimed at displaying our content processes and the quality thereof. But, it is also an informative resource to help you understand the products that we as a business offer. It’s not expressly about the sale, but more about delivering information that we know will benefit our customers and be of use to them in their buyer’s journey. Purveyors of truly authentic content care about the customer and what they need to know about your services.

There Are No Alternative Facts

Did you know that 79% of people trust the first website they find and its content explicitly, whereas 37% will seek other sources for verification? No - because it is a lie. I made up those numbers and they don’t even add up. But, how many people would question that or think to look up the numbers for themselves? Well, it’s becoming more common than you might think.

The fact is that we live in a climate where ‘fake news’ is becoming increasingly talked about and called out. Facebook are currently attempting to put measures in place to monitor fake news on their platform. People, in general, are becoming more aware of it (due to unnamed political figures making mention of it regularly). Regardless of how prominent those figures are, the golden rule applies in marketing: putting ‘fake content’ out there simply isn’t acceptable, nor should it be something that businesses of any size permit as common practice.

If a customer is coming to your website to view your content, they’re on a journey that can lead them to your service or product of value. They wouldn’t be there if there wasn’t a possibility they might convert, proving that fake content is entirely counterproductive to your business goals. A customer only needs to compare you to a small selection of your competitors – which in today’s consumer journey’s is almost guaranteed – to realise you are not the real deal. Why risk that loss in trust?

Authenticity is Creativity

Sometimes, trying to say what you think your customer wants to hear can be incredibly linear and, well, boring. The story you create may be what you think people wish to hear, but it’s the same thing they are seeing over and over again when they just want something new. “We need X number of customers in an XXX time period,” Mrs. Businesswoman, BussinessIzUs, 2017. Goals and definable metrics like these are the traditional foundation from which business and, as a result, marketing, are built upon.

However, the focus should be less upon these imaginary numbers and instead be redirected toward your beliefs and ideals. Success doesn’t necessarily have to equate to big numbers: as competition gets tougher, success is a concept which becomes less tangible and more about delivering brand authenticity. Surprisingly, the more real to your brand you are, the more creative your content can become. Your content becomes interwoven with the story of your business: it generates inspiration, and ultimately holds true in the eyes of your customers.

Keeping it Real

At the end of the day, customers know if you don’t care about them. Authenticity should be at the heart of your brand and, as such, the lifeblood of your content. Sometimes, standing out from the crowd requires you to step back, see your customers, and deliver the authenticity that people being exposed to marketing in 2017 crave.

 At SQ Digital, we like to think we have our fingers firmly on the pulse of content: after all, we live and breathe it every day. We fight to be true to our customer’s brand, to push you forward in your industry and, ultimately, gain that all-important trust from your own customers. From tone of voice documents, industry research, articles for thought leadership, and finger tapping our way to quality content, it’s our goal to deliver authenticity in everything we do on behalf of our clients. The process is authentic, and so is the content.

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