What is going to make your content marketing stand out this year?
B2B buyers want to do business with brands they trust. And one of the primary ways to build trust with your audience is by being authentic. Always.
Kick off the new year by making a commitment to authenticity and you’ll set your content marketing strategy on a pathway to success.
You must still publish content that’s relevant and helpful to customers at each stage of their buyer’s journey, but that authentic foundation will help you take it from good to great.
Here’s a primer on what authenticity means, why it matters, and five steps you can take to bring authenticity into your content.
Authenticity is the practice of being undisputedly genuine.
When you communicate authentically, people can more easily relate to you and your business.
Authentic content leaves no doubt in a buyer’s mind that the information they read, hear, or see depicted in a video came from your company, and is an accurate representation of who you are, what you do, and why you do it.
It makes it easier for prospects to understand how your solution is of benefit to them.
It gives substance to your business, building its identity into something influential and—importantly—elevating it above the competition.
Attributes that buyers associate with authentic content include realness, respectfulness, and reliability
Anything that looks fake, applies a heavy filter, wastes your customer’s time, or turns out to be unreliable will quickly get labeled as inauthentic—and can seriously damage your brand reputation.
Contrast this with fast-growing, marquee brands that have embraced human connection and transparency, such as Slack, which amplifies the voices of its users on its @SlackLovesTweets Twitter account, MailChimp, which runs tongue-in-cheek ads consistent with its conversational personality, or CISCO, which regularly highlights its commitment to social responsibility in its marketing campaigns.
In today’s digital world, where deepfakes and deceptive marketing make it hard for us to separate what’s genuine from what’s not, we rely heavily on our instinctive sense for authenticity.
We use “gut feel” to identify trustworthy suppliers and pay close attention to the “BS detector” in our head.
Over 90 percent of Millennials say brand authenticity is critical
Research has shown that over 85 percent of people say authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support.
Among Millennials—the generation increasingly in control of companies’ buying decisions—over 90 percent say brand authenticity is critical.
This matters because B2B transactions are really B2H—business to human—and one or more human beings will ultimately make the decision about whether to buy from your company or not.
As a result, authenticity is a powerful tool you can use to persuade your audience to trust you and your organization.
Applied consistently to your content, it helps prospects to engage with you more willingly because they perceive your company as reliable and trustworthy.
The concept of authenticity can be challenging, especially when your business sells unsexy widgets to heavy industry.
However, regardless of your product or sector, there are some straightforward steps you can take to produce content that your customers will find authentic.
Step 1: Personalize the Content
Personalization done right can go a long way toward trust-building authenticity.
Authentic personalization starts with identifying your customer’s individual needs and tailoring their experience accordingly.
Use buyer’s journey mapping to identify generic needs and wants that your target audience seeks to meet as they research, evaluate, and purchase a solution like yours.
Then, use customer relationship management (CRM) software to bring appropriate personalization into individual buyers’ interactions with your marketing, sales, and customer support efforts.
Step 2: Share Real Customer Stories
User-generated content, such as online reviews, social media posts, and video testimonials, is powerful stuff.
But don’t be tempted to fake it; buyers are highly adept at spotting manufactured content.
Realness matters, so you must publish the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Being open to all types of feedback reinforces your honesty and transparency and showcases a customer experience that’s real and relatable.
Step 3: Showcase Meaningful Impact
Content that explains how your products deliver an impact beyond saving the customer money or making them look cool is both engaging and authentic.
If you can legitimately claim to improve the buyer’s wellbeing or enhance their company’s social or environmental impact, that can bring meaningful focus to your content.
Impact-drive content is often more appealing to a buyer than any financial and performance benefits.
Step 4: Show that You and Your Fellow Leaders are Human
An authentic brand is inextricably linked with authentic leadership and human connection.
You and the other people at the top of your organization must be visible and demonstrably human.
This means connecting with your customers through channels like Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, where they can see you “walking the talk” and demonstrating that you care about the company’s purpose, its impact, and your employees.
Step 5: Screen Everything Your Company Publishes for Authenticity
Before anything reaches your website, blog, social media channels, video library, sales collateral, or any other channel, you must verify its authenticity.
The more extensive your content marketing strategy becomes, the harder this will be and yet, the more critical.
Create a process to ensure this check happens every time, all the time. It only takes one piece of blatantly inauthentic content to undermine years of genuine effort.
If a piece of content doesn’t read or sound like something you would feel comfortable writing or saying, don’t publish it!
Commit to incorporating these five steps into your 2023 content marketing plans and you’ll be on track for an authentic and successful year.
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Image credits: Adobe Stock