Being authentic – or, rather, the need for it, desire for it – is a modern marketing mantra.
People no longer want stuffy, corporate speak or shouty sales patter. Customers, we are told, want to know they are buying into the ‘real you’. But is this really true?
Well, copy with personality and style is certainly preferable, and more effective at building a long term relationship with customers, than tired corporate clichés or the kind of sales copy that talks at you rather than to you.
And it’s definitely a plus if your business and the way you present yourself is (in existentialist speak) ‘congruent with your beliefs’. If only because it’s so much easier if you don’t have to pretend enthusiasm. Or have to force yourself to be that outgoing, exuberant character, when really you’re the quiet, retiring type.
But of course it’s not the real unedited you that people want, it’s the version of you that’s congruent with them, that strikes a chord with their beliefs, the way that they see themselves.
In a recent post on Copyblogger, Why People Don’t Want the ‘Real’ You, Brian Clark puts it very elegantly:
Very few of the things we buy are truly necessary.
Everything else we buy is used as a way of telling the story of who we are, what we believe, and what we aspire to be.
Your story absolutely matters, but only to the extent that it helps people tell the story they want to tell about themselves.
Be you, but then get out of the way.
As Seth Godin wrote (and from which Brian Clark takes his cue): ‘Authenticity in marketing is telling a story people want to hear.’
But there is a way to be authentic, a way to be true both to yourself and to your customer, your ‘tribe’. An approach that is helpful to you and to those you want to help through your business, nicely expressed in another post on Copyblogger:
When you approach your subject with curiosity, modesty, and a sincere desire to help, you’ll find raving fans.
That’s where I stand.
“Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.”
— James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time