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Posted by Todd Hockenberry ● Jul 05, 2022

What does it mean to be authentic?

Be more authentic. Many online experts say authenticity is a key to marketing your business today.

Sayings like these are bromides (as a degreed but not practicing chemist I love that word) and are boring and uninteresting along with being unhelpful.


How can your company be more authentic? Be more authentic, what does that mean?

Is authenticity a spectrum or is something either authentic or isn’t? Can your marketing be sorta authentic? Is there a scale of authenticity? 

Could you survey your audience with this question? Rate our brand’s authenticity on a scale from 0 to 10.

What would you compare it to?

What makes something authentic?

Do you just know it when you see it? Is it a feeling? Or is it measurable?

If I can’t define it then I can’t make it better.

Google says for a person, “authenticity means you're true to your own personality, values, and spirit, regardless of the pressure that you're under to act otherwise. You're honest with yourself and with others, and you take responsibility for your mistakes. Your values, ideals, and actions align.”

For marketing purposes, authenticity is variously defined as:

“Authentic marketing always focuses on product benefits, not product features. To ensure authenticity, first understand how your product makes the customer's life better, easier or more enjoyable; i.e., the product benefits. Then ensure that marketing content focuses on telling that product benefit story.” Forbes

“An authentic brand is one that decides to be transparent and consistent in its messaging and branding initiatives. It has business values it remains true to, and most essentially, it is honest.” Forbes again.

I could go on but most definitions follow the outline of the ones I list.

So let’s try a few examples:

Breakfast Cereal - what would authentic look like?

We sell sugar that will addict your kids and ruin their health but at least they were quiet, happy, and will go to school without bitching about eating healthy food.

Car dealers - we all love these guys!

We will sell you a car and beg you to finance it so you spend more than you should and then we will pound you with marketing to churn that car after a few years so you take a bath on the original purchase and start the process all over again. All the time never once asking you what your goals are for that vehicle that is typically the second most expensive thing you will buy.

If you want to hear my personal experience with a car dealer check this podcast out.

I work with a lot of manufacturing companies and no one says to them to be more authentic. You only say that to people selling vaporware and things with little differentiation in the marketplace.

A lot of people talking about authenticity sound good but I think honesty is more important. 

I can be more honest, but can I be more authentic? You either are or are not authentic but you can always be more honest.

Being honest and transparent builds trust and opens the door for a relationship.

Just be honest with yourself and your audience.

  • Tell them who you help the most, why, and who you don’t help?
  • Share pricing ranges so you qualify people early and do not waste their time.
  • If you can’t take my call in a reasonable time tell me and give me an option for a callback - then call back!
  • Know the strengths and weaknesses of your product and communicate them clearly

The thing about honesty is that you know it when you see it. Authenticity is impossible to define and get better at doing. You either are or are not authentic.

You can always be more honest and transparent.

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Topics: Inbound Organization, Company Culture