Authenticity in Modern Marketing

A free range, grass fed blog postAuthenticity.  What does it mean to you?
Is it a pristine, original painting? A perfectly restored classic car? Perhaps organic fruits and vegetables? Artisan firewood? Using leeches as a way to heal wounds? Well, you get the picture. Humanity can get a little carried away with authenticity. But it sells. In fact, the Rule of Seven (“rule” stating that you must contact a person 7 times before they will consider your product or service), is becoming a laughable thing of the past. It’s no longer about how many times you contact somebody, it’s about HOW you contact them and if it is RELEVANT and COMPELLING to them.

We are obsessed with authenticity
In the digital age we are bombarded with demands for our attention,  In our over-processed lives nearly every outlet is untrustworthy. The things we do trust are original, simple, and down to earth. We are drawn to people and other creatures that persist, and that are unapologetic originals—because we want that too. This phenomena can be seen in nearly every issue on every side of the political aisle and is manifested in different ways.

Businesses can direct that passion and drive for authenticity on a product or service by speaking the new language of the consumer.

Once you understand that behind politics, social justice, hipsters, and hippies, is the same core desire—that of authenticity, your target consumer just got a little more basic. You can provide your clients and potential clients with what they long for without straight up saying “we’re not fake, trust us!” Which is good, because if you say that, nobody will believe you.

Here are some ways that you can radiate authenticity in your marketing:

It has to be relevant to be authentic

viking holding a cupcakeSorry, but here is where the authenticity thing gets pared down a little. Let’s not pull out the original viking swords to sell cupcakes just yet. Current events, trends and styles are all good. Correlating an old event to a new one is also OK. Whatever you do, tapping into the consumer’s inner desire for simpler times and good quality will get their attention. Who knows, maybe after careful study, vikings will show to be a good way to sell cupcakes!

Transparency and simplicity

This is about being honest and not hiding important things. Some marketers like to use “no contracts, no fees, no taxes, what you see is what you get for this price”, or a simple package of products that go together, or they offer a product made with simple ingredients.

Pet rock box and contentsSometimes transparency is a scary thing for businesses that don’t have a solid product or service plan to refer to. But you’ve got to try. Get all the facts out in the open and make each one a benefit statement. As the Pet Rock inventor Gary Dahl knew, a rock is more than just a rock, it’s the best pet you ever had. Be proud of what you have to offer. If something bad gets out there, make it humorous and use that to your advantage. Wendy’s doesn’t claim to make healthy baked potatoes, and when prompted, they will let you know that they don’t make that claim. And people will share it to pieces.

Image and experience

sillouettes dancing with ipodSell an experience. In the early advertising days for the iPod, they had colorful silhouettes of people dancing and listening to music. Those people could be anyone. People saw themselves having that kind of fun and wanted iPods. Apple’s advertising works in the same way today. In fact, they don’t need to do a whole lot of it. Get out of here with your throwing-all-your-eggs-into-one-basket kind of postcard. Nobody has time for that. Since the early 2000’s, consumers don’t want clutter anymore—unless it’s pretty

Speaking of pretty…gone also, are the days of good, studio photography. People want something that looks like it isn’t staged. This way they can see themselves or somebody they know using your product or service. This trend can be seen echoed throughout recent stock photography and social media with various filters that intentionally give an effect that a defect in film would give. You can even purchase hand drawn stock “photography” These sorts of images are more real and people are drawn to them.

Two women in cafe looking at phone



beer glass with "Frank" in the frost

It’s not mass produced. Or is it? With variable imaging and variable text, each recipient can feel like he or she matters enough to receive a unique advertisement or product. Also, think originality: The Most Interesting Man in the World commercials were really engaging, until everyone copied them and now people roll their eyes if they see or hear that commercial.


Give them the tools to share

Referral programs are your friends, and word of mouth CAN be a friend. Today’s younger generation will share everything that they find valuable, and it’s easy with digital media at their fingertips and in their pockets. Give them something to be proud of and link value to, and you will be glad you did. Make sure they know they can “check-in” via Facebook, and be sure to provide the means to see and share all your social media sites including: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yelp, etc.

Published by

Danielle Apple

Danielle is head of our graphic design department. A self-proclaimed "sponge," she is addicted to learning about marketing and to eating chocolate.