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Let’s talk marketing: What does vulnerable and authentic look like?

By Hayley Birtles-Eades
By Hayley Birtles-Eades
07 February 2020 3 minute readShare

With the millennial generation hitting the markets, everything has changed. But we know this, right? One of the most important defining characteristics of the millennial is his blatant disregard — in fact, more than disregard: his blatant dislike for being advertised to.

Where previous generations found adverts telling them about special offers and discounts helpful, this generation employs an active disdain for companies who make claims about their products and try to sponge off their services. 

So, how do new companies reach millennials if not through traditional advertising? After all, they are statistically the BIGGEST spenders ever! 

Hello, small businesses — welcome to authentic marketing

You can call the newer generation’s reluctance a kind of cynicism. They know advertisers will say anything to sell their wares. They’re also used to functioning in a world where dog-eat-dog is the standard. They don’t believe corporations hold their wellbeing at heart. If a company makes a claim, they don’t want to hear it, they want proof. 

Authentic marketing has become the most appealing way to communicate a message. The new spenders want to see a company for who they really are. That’s why vulnerability is immensely powerful. It makes a company relatable and personifies it, rather than being a faceless corporation. 

“Authenticity has nothing to do with how much you share. It is about what you share. Being authentic means being true to who you are as a person, writer or company.”– Neil Patel

What does authentic marketing look like in a practical sense?

Authentic marketing has nothing to do with ethics or practices. Rather, it has turned into a strategy. It turns the tables and instead of marketing by broadcasting your message, your company hangs out in the areas where your audience is and aims to engage with people by putting out relevant and relatable messages. 

Authentic marketing is about two-way communication where brands do more of the listening in order to build a connection which later leads to a sale. 

Instead of running a paid advert on social media which consists of text with images and conveys a message, marketers have better results by posting an interactive advert. For example, allowing people to answer a series of questions in order to reveal some aspect of themselves which leads to a product recommendation based on the result of the quiz. 

Influencer marketing for small businesses

Another trending advertising method which is exceptionally effective is influencer marketing. People no longer want to hear what a company has to say about themselves, they want to hear what real people’s experiences are. 

Companies can approach trending personalities on social media and ask them to record a video of themselves using a product or provide their feedback to the consumers. Their consumers take the feedback on good authority and they’re often then swayed into making a purchase. 

In a similar way, many marketers will pay people to write reviews on review websites. A simple Google search of the product will give readers a vast number of reviews. They relate to this feedback on a deeper level because it feels authentic. The new generations of consumers want the truth, and these advertising strategies give them a greater sense of control over their decision-making. 

How a small business can reach new heights with a good marketing strategy

Small businesses are unique. They often fall into the nowhere land regions of marketing — meaning, it’s still difficult to afford comprehensive marketing services, but they’re the most likely to truly benefit from it. The best way to get the full value of a comprehensive marketing package without the hefty price tag? 

DIY the actual work but get a rock-solid strategy drawn up professionally. The strategy is designed based on your business goals — for example, would you prefer to gain publicity and establish your brand as an authority in your industry? Or do you need to cash in some major sales? 

One is a long-term goal while the other is a short-term goal. A professional strategy will map out your methods, accounting for all of your business goals. Once you have the “how”, you can do the actual heavy lifting yourself, following the plan. 

Understanding your consumers as a small business

Authentic marketing makes sense when you consider how rapidly advertising has exploded in the last few years. 

Consumers are bombarded. So much so, the most effective branding has become the minimalist designs which offer the senses a refuge from the hustle and bustle of bold fonts and colourful brands. Look at Apple iProducts; they’re a primary example with their monochrome simplicity. 

By applying the same principle to your marketing strategy, you can whisper a quiet truth and gain success without competing for a space in the midst of proverbial pushing and shouting to win customers.

Hayley Birtles-Eades, founder and owner at Beinc

Let’s talk marketing: What does vulnerable and authentic look like?
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By Hayley Birtles-Eades
By Hayley Birtles-Eades

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic is the editor of My Business. 

Maja has a decade-long career in journalism across finance, business and politics. Now a well-versed reporter in the SME and accounting arena, prior to joining Momentum Media, Maja reported for several established news outlets in Southeast Europe, scrutinising key processes in post-conflict societies and enabling citizens to influence decision-making.

You can email Maja on [email protected] 

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