Marketing is more transparent than it’s ever been—or, at least, that’s what marketers want you to think.
In reality, most of today’s “authentic marketing” campaigns aren’t really that genuine after all.
Some companies market their brand as environmentally-friendly, even though their offices don’t recycle. They jump on diversity, not because it’s a factor in their hiring process, but because it’s a buzzword. And they pay ridiculous sums for endorsements from celebrities who likely don’t use their products at all. (Does anyone actually believe that the world’s highest-paid actors are using drugstore shampoo?)
It’s no wonder that, according to research from Edelman, only 56% percent of people trust businesses to do what’s right.
But if you want people to trust that your marketing is authentic, it can’t be about catchy slogans and larger-than-life campaigns. In order to do it properly, you have to take a completely different approach.
Authentic marketing is about figuring out why you personally believe in a product—and then relaying that message to potential customers.
Early on in my career, I was helping to develop the go-to-market strategy for a new consumer product. But even as I was creating the campaigns, I knew there were better product alternatives out there. It was difficult for me to get excited about work because, in a way, I felt dishonest.
Singing this product’s praises felt like something I had to do—not something I wanted to do. And in marketing, that route only leads to burn out.
Still, it was my job, so I kept plugging away. When the product finally hit the market, we got some initial traction—but it wasn’t long before we had unhappy customers. My gut instincts were right: we had over-promised and under-delivered.
I realized I never wanted to market a product I didn’t believe in again.
Authentic marketing tells an honest story based on real facts, values, and emotions. So while companies that use generic tactics to cater to the masses may make a sale today, they’re missing the mark when it comes to securing a solid consumer base for the future.
To create an authentic marketing campaign, you have to truly believe in the product.
Marketing isn’t just about convincing someone to buy your product.
You have to establish trust before you can build a loyal customer base. But in an industry where inauthentic tactics are the standard, creating an honest story is easier said than done.
First, make sure you understand your industry and connect with the company’s mission.
It’s crucial that you truly believe in what you’re marketing, especially for consumer-facing teams. If you don’t, believe me, consumers can tell.
So you should study your industry, your company, its mission, its products, and its core values. Don’t just memorize it, learn it. And then ask yourself, “How do these factors align with my values and interests? Can I truly get behind this? Do I believe in its success?”
If your values align, your job will be infinitely easier—and a whole lot more enjoyable.
For example, as a Marketing Manager at ShipChain, I learned the logistics industry isn’t very receptive to change—and there are a lot of misconceptions about implementing blockchain technology into the mix. So one of our top priorities is using educational content to change the way people approach traditional supply chains.
Yes, blockchain is a buzzword, but people don’t often realize its high-level benefits: when you increase visibility during tracking and shipping, it leads to less fraud, less theft, faster shipping, fewer lost packages, and so on. The goal here isn’t just marketing. It’s creating fundamental changes for the entire industry. Ultimately, these changes will benefit customers, supply chain managers, and hundreds of other businesses.
That’s a mission I can 100% get behind.
Once you’re aligned with the mission, approach the pain points from a personal perspective.
An authentic marketing campaign isn’t about what’s worked in the past, and it’s not about what’s made other people successful. In fact, some of the best marketing campaigns, like Dove’s “Real Beauty” and Patagonia’s “Don’t Buy This Jacket” are shockingly original—all because they used personal elements to connect with customers.
To get personal, think about why you believe in this product or service.
How can it potentially solve pain points in your life? Use that as a springboard to find the facts, statistics, and emotion you’ll need to create a genuine narrative.
For instance, I produce a lot of the blogs, social media posts, and emails that we use to educate potential customers about supply chain and logistics. But since this is my first time working in these industries, I can approach my work with a beginner’s mindset.
I often ask, “What did I struggle to understand about blockchain? What are the main pain points in logistics? How do these challenges apply to their everyday life?” Customers want to know that you truly understand their problems and are being genuine about the solutions you’re offering.
Ultimately, a personal approach will always be the best way to appeal to your audience.
If you really want to keep the authenticity in authentic marketing, the whole process starts with you. So before you give your pitch, take a moment to ask yourself: do you actually believe what you’re about to say?