How To Stay Exciting and Authentic in Business

Fresh - Exciting - Authentic (fish sign)

When marketing our business online it’s easy to get lost in a sea of data and forget that there are real people behind those statistics. Let’s take some time out to look at you can keep your customers and prospects coming back for more.

An important step of the customer journey is about building trust. Without it, there are no sales. You could have an amazing product or a huge online presence but if you’re not credible or authentic then your sales will suffer. In small business marketing, this is an even higher priority as you don’t have a ‘household name’ reputation to fall back on.

“Small Business Trends” share some advice on how to be more authentic when marketing your small business.

Customers are growing tired of traditional paid and owned advertising. We’re living in the age of the customer experience, and the same principles apply when it comes to marketing. Consumers want a brand they can trust and build a relationship with. They want to connect with brands and that means that businesses need to consider spicing up their marketing strategy this year. Customers today want authenticity.

Brand Credibility

The ideas of authenticity and marketing may seem like polar opposites. But, in the digital age, consumers are so connected that authenticity is essential to successful marketing. Customers have the advantage. They have access to all of the information they could ever want to know about your product or service. They also have unprecedented access to a global network of reviews, both positive and negative, on which to base their opinions of not only your products and services but your brand as a whole. News spreads fast on social media, and your brand could turn from being on top of the world to a sinking ship in no time.


Be Customer Conscious

Authenticity in marketing means being honest and transparent with your customers.

Make it personal- while the concept of personalisation in marketing is nothing new, taking the time to let your customers know you care can really go a long way.

Own your mistakes and shortcomings- customers will be more likely to extend you some grace if you’re humble and willing to engage them if you fail to meet their expectations.

Respond, don’t react- if you receive a negative comment on social media, address it quickly and with honesty. Avoid knee-jerk, emotional reactions that will perpetuate a negative image.


Face the Feedback

One way to promote authenticity this year is to ask for feedback from your customers. Traditional marketing is a one-sided conversation. It involves a business sending a message to a customer and waiting for the sales to start pouring in. However, being authentic requires participation from both sides. Call your customers on the phone, or better yet, meet with them in-person. Ask them what their perception is of your brand and company. Let them know that their opinions and stories are valued. While you might be surprised at how your brand is received in the real world, you have a tremendous opportunity to really connect with your customers in an authentic, honest way… Read More

You can see from the above that this isn’t technically difficult. It’s simply a case of reading your customer and elevating yourself (and your brand) so that you can over-deliver in everything you do. Gaining customer trust is once of the biggest hurdles to overcome. They’ll love you for building an authentic brand that’s true to itself!

Authenticity may be important but if you can’t get noticed in the first place, it won’t do you much good. You need to find ways of grabbing attention whilst staying true to your brand. Consistency is key but that doesn’t mean you have to be boring and predictable. This is especially true when marketing B2B. If you spend much time on LinkedIn you’ll see a number of posts in your feed that are geared towards B2B but forget that there are real people behind those businesses.  One way to achieve this is through interactive content. Below are some great examples of interactive content from Top Rank Marketing

What do we mean by interactive content? Generally speaking, it’s any content that requires more input from the user than simply scrolling or clicking links. In practice, there are a few broad categories:

Interactive infographics use animation, navigational elements, and customizable data sets.

Interactive eBooks can incorporate audio, video, and animation.

Quizzes ask users a series of questions and display results.

Calculators allow users to input and manipulate data to view potential outcomes.

Interactive video lets users make choices that affect the plot of a short film.

1: IBM Takes Storytelling to the Next Level

We often talk about storytelling in B2B content. But it’s usually in the context of helping customers see what life with our solution could be like, or highlighting success stories. IBM takes the concept more literally in this interactive video.

IBM Interactive Content Example

It’s a fully-realized work of fiction, presenting an original story of a power plant operator struggling to bring power back on during an outage. The user has to help the protagonist make decisions (and learn about IBM’s app suite along the way).

The true mark of greatness for this piece is it’s compelling even if you know nothing about mobile apps for power plant management. It actually stands on its own while still being relevant to IBM’s target customer.

2: NASDAQ Spices Up Case Studies

Customer success stories are some of the most valuable marketing material you have. When a buyer is doing research, though, they get repetitive fast: Customer had problem, tried our solution, got great results.

NASDAQ livens up their case studies in this animated eBook. Client testimonials zoom in; pages are easy-to-browse with extra detail hidden behind tabs. The layout helps NASDAQ highlight the most important parts of the case study, while still offering depth for interested customers.

Nasdaq Interactive eBook Example

3: DivvyHQ Takes Us Back to the Future

Check out this interactive eBook for DivvyHQ. The challenge for this piece was to present a metric ton of content in an easy-to-browse and compelling format. We chose a lively pop-culture theme to unify the content. Then we focused on strong navigational elements that guide the reader while still allowing them to choose their own path.

DivvyHQ Interactive Content Example

The result? An instantly engaging piece that encourages readers to explore. As a bonus, we were able to use the theme for spin-off pieces like blog posts and promotions.

4: HubSpot’s Website Assessment Makes the Grade

Automated tools are the next evolution of assessment-style interactivity. If your solution is web-based, you may be able to show customers specifically what you can do for them. HubSpot offers this web performance evaluation site that has proven to be a powerful lead-generation tool.

There’s minimal interaction required — the user puts in a URL and an email address— but the in-depth results are more than compelling. It’s a great example of how to win customers by providing value up-front.

The inspiration behind this post was really to try and convey that being an authentic and credible brand doesn’t have to mean following the same path as everyone else. You can still be the big fish in your pond and command attention by aligning that authenticity with innovative solutions to your small business marketing. Why not take a look at your current process and see what you positive changes you can implement.

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