12 Things A Business Can Do To Project Authenticity

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Customers now are all about giving their business to companies they can trust and that they feel are authentic. In order to build that trust, you have to engage with your audience in a way that also builds your authenticity. While it may be tempting to look at what other companies have done, you have to make sure that you stay true to your company; otherwise you are going to ruin whatever trust you’ve built.

To help you with this important task, we’ve asked 12 experts from Forbes Agency Council to share what your business should do to project authenticity and build good relationships with consumers.

Project Authenticity

1. Be Careful What You Automate

There’s a fine line to walk with automation. As a business, you have to automate some communication to keep up with the digital pace of competitors, but choose wisely. Having human moments within your funnels will counteract the feeling customers get of being ushered through a digital queue. As far as the communication that is automated, please just write like a human being. – Jessica Gonzalez, InCharged

2. Be Transparent About Progress And Issues

One of the largest shocks in the market recently has been the lack of authenticity that has been coming through for all of the companies and outlets. One thing that is really capable of making a real difference is being transparent about your company’s progress and issues. There are positive and negative ways to paint all news — the key is honesty. – Jon James, Ignited Results

3. Build Relationships With Micro-Influencers

Micro-influencers, those with 5,000 to 150,000 followers, are a great way to strengthen the relationship between your brand and consumer because of their authenticity. Having influencers create their own content with their own message around your product can establish trust. That content can be posted on their social media channels and can be repurposed in your other paid, earned and owned channels. – Maria Sipka, Linqia

4. Focus On Your Customers Over Your C-Suite

Beat the press to it by delivering on your brand promise and capturing it on video for your website. Give a voice to your employees and the communities you’re involved in. How has your contribution impacted their lives? By moving the spotlight from the C-suite to the people you affect, you’ll differentiate yourself from the pack, show that you walk the walk and convey your authenticity. – Howard Breindel, DeSantis Breindel

5. Create A Brand Narrative

Have a clear vision of why your brand exists and define your mission and values. Then, create a brand narrative that is based on the essence of who your are. Once you have defined your storytelling line, find your tone of voice and share your message with a clear and consistent format. Make sure that your story has personality, so your audience will remember it and connect it to your brand. – Daniela Pavan, The Ad Store New York

6. Utilize Guided Conversations Over Scripts

Consider moving away from committee-scripted storytelling. There are better ways to communicate key insights, understanding and clear directions to customers. We sometimes use news-oriented techniques such as interviewing “customers like you” in guided conversations designed to naturally and authentically reveal common problems and solutions. This approach can be quite natural and effective. – Rick Kupchella, The Informed Engagement Network (i.e. network)

7. Interact With Customers On Social

Use social media to establish authentic relationships by being proactive and an active listener. Listen to the conversations online and provide solutions, show empathy, address concerns and use social media the way it should be used: socially. These channels give brands the opportunities to communicate their humanity and resonate with consumers and perspective customers. – Lauren Shirreffs, 2Social Agency

8. Always Represent The Company

Whatever you’re doing — if you’re on social media, walking from your car, attending a conference or in line for a coffee — you’re a manifestation of the company. Who hasn’t had a “rude server experience” that has made you write that restaurant off forever? The lesson is, always assume your actions speak for the company and make those actions reflect positively on the brand you care about. – Dustin Iannotti, artisansonfire.com

9. Get Involved With The Community

The best way for companies to establish trust with consumers is to get involved with their communities. Companies that support arts and cultural groups or have days of service show that they are a part of the places where they live and work. Giving back and helping to build stronger communities shows social responsibility and helps to earn trust. – Henry Kurkowski, One WiFi

10. Show Real Customers

Showing real-life customers who are passionate about a brand, not just paid influencers, is more authentic to a brand and will connect with the everyday audience — not just the aspirational audience. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC

11. Stick To Your Brand’s Mission

Stick to your brand’s mission through thick and thin. Don’t waver or flop based on what others are doing or saying unless you truly feel that this change is in line with your brand, more so than your previous values. Don’t catch someone else’s train — drive your own, and continue to prove your worth at every opportunity. Remember, carbon copies are not authentic. – Bernard May, National Positions

12. Put Thought Into Your Content

In the professional services space, thought leadership is still the best strategy for creating trust with prospects. But, the content marketing craze has degraded the quality of thought leadership as companies prize timeliness over thoughtfulness. If you want to create trust, talk to your audience (not at them) on topics that matter to them. Timeless content beats timely content every time. – Randy Shattuck, The Shattuck Group

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