Being authentic in your marketing and business activities is critical your long term success. I have written about authenticity several times and it occurred to me I should attempt to clearly define the quality that, in my opinion, is oft-times lacking these days.
Authenticity is the alignment of head, mouth, heart, and feet – thinking, saying, feeling, and doing the same thing – consistently. This builds trust, and followers love leaders they can trust.
What makes up authenticity?
- Believable. Your claims are believable because they are factual. You have evidence your claims are truthful and not just your opinion. They are instead the opinion of others who have benefited from your claims.
- Recommendation. When someone recommends you they are staking their own reputation that you are trustworthy to deliver what you promise. A recommendation is the highest form of loyalty and should be encouraged, handled with care and rewarded.
- Consistency. Your interaction with your clients should be consistent, your messages clear, and your policies and practices should match. Regular communications should be a key strategy to keep clients informed, cared for and nurtured.
- Believe in something. All of us have opinions on just how things should be; we believe certain truths to be true. Most of us however are afraid to speak of what is the most important to us because we don’t want to offend people. Have you ever heard the saying; “you can’t please all of the people all of the time?” I believe everyone has the right to be given respectful, quality customer service, and our complaints should be allowed to be heard. When I call for customer service I expect to talk to a human being fairly quickly and if I feel wronged, my pain should be acknowledged and an apology made, even if I am wrong!
- Leadership. You should exhibit leadership in your area of expertise. Being an expert in your area is a given and you should care about making your market a better place because of your innovation and passion for your market.
- Transparency. From Wikipedia; Transparency is operating in such a way that it is easy for others to see what actions are performed. This is a difficult one for some companies, their messaging and policies don’t match and it shows miserably. For example some companies at generating what I call “Bad Profits” on my behalf (wireless and cable TV networks come to mind.)
- Trust and relationships. Building trust and true relationships with clients, vendors and partners should be part of your client retention strategy. Dan Kennedy says the number one reason clients leave is because they feel they are not appreciated.
- Ethical business practices. A business cannot have responsibility. The people who manage it do. In my opinion, they have a responsibility beyond profits and therefore, should not sacrifice personal ethical responsibilities in the name of profits.
- Accessible. They do not hide behind pseudonyms, a website with no phone number, and automated phone system or other technology barrier.
- Walk the talk. No empty promises. Do what you say you are going to do. If you discover you cannot, let people know about it before it becomes a crisis!
Those who pretend they are authentic can and do build short term profits and success. In the long run if they ignore these principles of authenticity, they will have short-lived success and will eventually be found out, abandoned and replaced.
I feel as though I have only scratched the surface of what authenticity means to me, especially in the area of customer relations and my expectations of how a customer should be treated.
What does authenticity mean to you? Is your philosophy aligned with my definition? I would love to hear your opinion and what you are doing to build authenticity into your business.
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Roger Carr says
I believe you did a great job outlining what authenticity is and how we can be authentic. The top behaviors are to be consistent in what we say (and do) and follow though on our commitments. I think the only caution I would offer is if we discover we were wrong about something, then we need to admit it and change what we say (rather than being consistent). I believe this would fall under your leadership trait.
Paul Guyon says
Thanks Roger, you make a great point, thanks for the suggestion! Being consistent with our moral obligations should guide leaders to do the right thing and adjust business strategy and activities accordingly, especially when we discover we were wrong!