Increase Sales Through Authentic Marketing

Authenticity is a hot word in business.

Today’s consumers don’t want to be told how to think or what to do. Instead, they want businesses that inspire them, and customers are demanding greater purity and consistency in the products, messages, and values a company represents.

What is Authenticity?

Some define authenticity as being consistent in word and deed or having a fundamental character that doesn’t change based on circumstance.

Inauthentic companies may come across as artificial, timid, fake, or gimmicky, while words associated with professional authenticity might include transparent, original, boldly unapologetic, legitimate, or truthful.

Authentic brands are those that stay true to who they are, what they do, and who they serve. This means that, in an age of unprecedented consumer empowerment, understanding your customers and what they expect from you is critical.

But in crafting authenticity in marketing, entrepreneurs should understand that the meaning of the word authenticity can vary based on customer expectations.

Authenticity Translated: Two Interpretations

Consider the restaurant industry in New York.

Two fan favorites in this scene include DiFara’s Pizza in Brooklyn and Blue Hill in Greenwich Village. Both are lauded as “authentic.” DiFara’s reviewers rave that this pizzeria is as “authentic as they come,” while Blue Hill at Stone Barn is hailed as “an authentic Hudson Valley culinary experience.”

What does this actually mean?

Translation 1: In this genre of authentic companies, a product or brand perfectly conforms to the original.

DiFara’s matches the expectations a customer might have for a “classic” Italian pizzeria experience. The pizzaiolo at DiFara’s, Domenic DeMarco, immigrated to the U.S. from a small town near Naples and has been making traditional thin-crust pizzas in Brooklyn since 1964.

Translation 2: Blue Hill offers farm-to-table ingredients with a focus on creating sustainable food systems.

Here authenticity is assigned to a company that offers products or experiences that adhere to the core beliefs or values of the customer served, whether the value is for transparent leadership, unpolluted products, or a desire for excellence. (Think the Honest Company, Apple, or Yeti, for example.)

Which Strategy Should You Pursue?

According to four studies reported by the Harvard Business Review, authentically conforming to a category (see Translation 1) might lead to higher social evaluations (like 5-star ratings) but might not increase a consumer’s willingness to pay more.

This can bring tangible benefits: research shows that even a 1-star increase in Yelp reviews may bring a 5-9% increase in revenues.

On the other hand, authenticity adhering to customer core beliefs (see Translation 2) might persuade consumers to pay more for those products.

How does this affect your business? Researchers said this:

“Managers should consider these patterns as they attempt to appeal to customers. Rather than assuming that any mention of authenticity leads to a better reputation or more revenue (or both), managers might do well to think carefully about what kind of authenticity their organization expresses. For organizations that convey authenticity because they exemplify a specific category or genre, they might focus on generating value by winning higher star ratings – which can increase sales traffic – rather than attempting to charge more for products or services . . . Organizations that evoke authenticity by adhering to their core beliefs might benefit more from charging a premium for products and services to a more selective set of customers.”

Want to win at authenticity? You will be wise to choose the best way to meet customer expectations, ensuring each message you send is genuine and in line with your brand principles.

Don’t just claim to be authentic, choose a strategy to pursue it. Then live up to this vision by giving your very best!

Perseverance: How to Know If It’s Time to Quit

Over the last two years, there has been a great buzz about 37-year-old tennis phenom Serena Williams.

Williams has 23 Grand Slam titles and a dominant career, ranked number one for 319 weeks over 15 years. In 2017, Williams gave birth to her first daughter. Many wondered how motherhood would affect her career. Would she return with the same fight? Would she return at all?

Williams roared back to the semi-final of the 2018 U.S. Open and quickly regained top 10 rankings. Fans worldwide were inspired by her courage and moved by her transparency about her struggles.

Faced with a Crossroads

In life, you will face discouragement, wondering, “Is it time to quit? Should I alter my path or press on through resistance?”

On one hand, redirecting can be wise, helping you avoid harm or consider better alternatives. Conversely, quitting might weaken your character or prevent you from realizing an achievement that’s closer than you think.

Walter Mallory, an associate of inventor Thomas Edison, was expressing regret that the first nine thousand experiments with a battery yielded few results. Edison had a different perspective:

“Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results! I have found several thousand things that won’t work!”

To Fish or Cut Bait?

Politician Newt Gingrich said, “perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.”

Pressing on in a project can build character, enhance your skill set, and build confidence that can only come through trial. The best leaders are those who’ve been tested.

When tempted to quit, ask yourself whether other alternatives seem tangible or rewarding. Does a change seem realistic? Could you tweak certain variables to make a situation more bearable? Perhaps your moments of greatest discouragement are those when you’re actually closest to breakthrough!

But whoever said “quitters never win” may have been wrong. Quitting is scary, but sometimes continuing is worse. Stubbornness can destroy important relationships, blind you to better alternatives, or make you oblivious to your destruction. It might be time to quit when:

  • Continuing will destroy friendships, family, health, or your character
  • Despite loads of effort, you don’t see results
  • You find yourself growing numb to red flags
  • Proceeding may eliminate other options
  • You’ve lost all joy or energy

In 2010, Mexican golfer Lorena Ochoa shocked fans when she retired at 28. At that time, she was ranked number one in the world, a winner of two major championships and millions in prize money.

An impulsive decision? Ochoa says no. From early in her career, Ochoa wanted to marry and raise a family without golf, projecting about 10 years on the tour.

“ . . . For me, getting married and having a family, that was more important,” Ochoa said. “Now that I’m a mother, I wouldn’t change that for anything in the world and I feel blessed. I’m really, really happy that I made the decision at the right time and now I can enjoy 100% this second stage of my life.”

Looking back, Ochoa said knowing there was a definite “end” actually helped her game:

“When I was in a difficult position and I was either upset or tired or angry or disappointed, I keep saying, ‘OK, y’know I have three or four years left. I’m going to do it and continue and I’m going to put everything into it’ . . . When I look back and I see what I did, I just feel even luckier because I made the right decision at the perfect time.”

Ochoa’s courage may inspire you to think of it this way: perhaps it’s time to quit when saying no to the good means you can say YES to the best.