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Why is authenticity in digital marketing so important?

Tom Pritchard

 

As marketers, it’s easy to sometimes forget that we are dealing with real people. With sales targets to hit and the constant need to perform, we often fail to market for long term success and instead become overly transactional in our marketing.

As an example imagine we have our marketer, and he or she has good intentions in mind, but typically they look at every opportunity with a commercial focus, and see partnerships as only a possibility of business development.

Marketers will often go out and create content with a view to only converting a prospecting reader into a sale. Marketers will look at their landing pages and ponder "What's the highest percent of people that I can possibly convert so I can generate the best ROI today?"

While this transactional model of thinking is important, and to some degree necessary, it often lacks (or at least creates the impression of lacking) authenticity for the side of the potential customer. The idea that all these people are just a chance to make money, or an opportunity to better one’s self, it's almost like the prostitution of marketing. Think about the difference between dating and paying for a physical relationship, they are perceived in such different ways. One has all sorts of positive and romantic and long-term associations in the world, and the other has incredibly negative connotations.

Not wanting to focus on the morality of different views on physical human relationships, but this same thinking applies in the marketing world.

Transactional marketing results in only one thing, transactional relationships. Those transactional relationships, where every interaction is viewed exclusively through the lens of "how are you going to become money for me?" is an ugly, disingenuous way to think, not to mention an ugly and unauthentic way to be thought of.

We all can feel it when it's coming from someone else. It means treating people merely as conduits! When you think in this model, you often end up prioritising something that's actually dangerous to your long-term success, your short-term success!

This inverse correlation constantly focuses you on the short-term return over the long-term relationship or relationship potential. This transactional model means that people are going to abandon your brand as soon as it's no longer the best transaction for them because they have no preexisting relationship. They have no loyalty. They have no love for you or your company or your product. It's merely, "What are you doing for me right now in exchange for me giving you dollars?"

Think of your relationship with your your energy or telecommunications provider, I for one have often found myself feeling very disappointed at their lack of authentic customer care and or empathy to a situation. These are a perfect example of classic transactional models. There's no brand loyalty. The only reason I have a relationship with my energy provider is because it’s a necessity in order to live in a house with power. I have no loyalty, and I dread any moment that I have to call them for any reason pre-empting the exhaustive wait I will likely endure on hold before I speak to someone that barely speaks my language and will potentially disconnect the call if my request is too difficult for them to be bothered to deal with it.

If you’re business has these types of relationships it's time to change! Increases in competition mean that consumers have the power of choice, and they are going to choose a friend over the scabby acquaintance any time!

Seek common ground with every kind of relationship that you build and seek common ground apart from purely the relationship, although business and professional topics are certainly great places to start. Try really hard to find the things that you have in common with your audience from local sporting to supporting and standing for topics and issues that are important to your community. Although you may not always have the exact same view as all of your audience, the fact that your brand stands for something, makes your business feel much more human and relatable. Sponsor a local sporting event, a school fete, any type of relationship that you encounter while doing these types of activities, is going to remove the purely transactional model instantly.

The thing is it has to be authentic. You can't do this in such a way that you're sort of going down a checklist of, "Oh, hi there Michelle. It's nice to meet you. Are you also a National Rugby League fan? Because I happen to be a fan of the South Sydney Rabbitohs!" Clearly this approach is not going to work. It's obvious.

Authentically seeking out relationships as you're going relationship building, rather than biasing and prioritising the transactional model, can be felt in every interaction that you have. Go out of your way to help and do it before you're asked.

Don't negotiate hard to get every last penny. I think that one of the things that we're trained to do again as marketers is, in these kinds of marketing opportunities, we go out and we see, "Well, what's the maximum that I can possibly get? I'm going to push this other person up against the wall until they're getting minimum return and I'm getting maximum return."

This is actually a terrible way to build a relationship. Of course, it results in this feature where people abandon the brand as soon as you're not providing the best service to them or as soon as you're not the best transactional option for them.

So if you can follow these things and go and change the way you approach engagement and relationship opportunities, either online or offline, I think you're going to see a much greater return.

 

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