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  • Pete Steege

Authenticity is more than words



I've been talking about authenticity in marketing for a long time now. That's because being real is so important to your prospects and to your clients. It's one of the essential ways that you can be successful.


People can tell when you are being true to what your beliefs are and why you started your business. It comes out not just in your words, it comes out in how your employees behave, how your processes work, how your products perform, even on your website. So being authentic is so much more than just coming up with the right words. It has to be this, this high integrity thing of sharing and being true to what you believe.


That's really hard to do, and I have some tough news: It's going to get a lot harder. There are two trends in particular that are causing an increase in this need for full authenticity in what you do as a business.


Transparency


First, technology has evolved in such a way that everything is so much more transparent. You just can't hide anymore. You can't pretend - the truth comes out. Social media, the apps that your customers more and more often are using - whether they're your apps or somebody else's apps, the real-time communication that is becoming essential.


All these things add up to just such a clear view into your behavior and your choices as a business that the days of manipulating that and deciding what you're going to say about yourself, whether it's true or not, those days are just fading because of the change in technology.


As you can expect, it's going to just keep changing and getting more and more transparent.


Culture


The other important trend is the change in our society. We've gone through some really stressful times in the last five years as a society in the United States. Sides are being taken. And whatever you believe, it's harder and harder to not have to make a choice.


Sometimes we don't want to make a choice. It may even be not constructive to take a side, but there's a pressure there with your customers that you're going to have to grapple with that. What's happening in Ukraine this year is a stunning example of this transparency meeting "taking sides" and taking a position, taking a stand.


Imagine you're the CEO of a Fortune 100 company right now. Everyone in the world knows what you've done or not done in terms of being in the Russian market, and supporting Ukraine. It's not so much whose side you're on or how your choices match with these options. But the fact is, you're going to have to deal with that blowback.


This is a tough issue. And one you really need to grapple with. I don't have any easy answers, but I know that this need for authenticity is something that's only going to continue. We all need to work on our authenticity muscles so that we learn how to do this in a way that's good for our business, but also is good for our customers and our society.


There's no easy answer, but I'll tell you one thing: the worst thing you can do is to ignore this and be complacent. This challenge is a messy one, but the more you face it now and work on it, the better off you'll be, as things change.

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