Authenticity. Believe it or not, this is a trait that many marketing professionals seem to miss or glaze over. Authenticity in marketing is a big part of the success of a campaign. After all, consumers don’t want to feel lied to or cheated. They want to feel a strong, genuine connection to the brand, product, or service. They don’t want to feel duped for their money or loyalty. Yet some brands seem to miss the mark when it comes to marketing with authenticity.
What are some ways in which brands miss out on opportunities to be authentic? These misses can be small, seemingly meaningless, but they can add up in the long term and have a damaging effect on the brand’s reputation.
Let’s say that a brand solicits the collection of email addresses in order to build up a strong email marketing database. The brand promises not to sell or give away the customers’ information...but somehow, a few weeks after the customer signs up, they begin receiving a multitude of new spam emails.
The trail leads back to the email list the customer signed up for innocuously, expecting to receive marketing emails from the brand but nothing else. The customer unsubscribes from the marketing list, but the spam continues. Now, the customer is left with her own devices to deal with the spam, which just keeps coming.
What happened here? The brand went against their promise and sold or gave away the information collected by the email sign-up form. Not only is this a massive violation of trust, but these types of practices are also illegal and go against privacy laws.
At its core, this type of practice is misleading and can lead to much damage to the brand’s reputation. This behavior should be avoided at all costs. Brands may think that no one reads the fine print, but this does not excuse them from following the guidelines they themselves have set forth.
Authenticity also matters when it comes to advertising and promotion. Exaggerating the features and benefits of a product, over-inflating sales and performance numbers, and over promising but under delivering are examples of behavior that lack authenticity.
It may be easier to boast about the performance of a product or to call it the “best” in the industry without proper backup to the argument, but the long term effects of such inauthentic marketing should not be ignored.
Here is another example of a solid way to lose the trust of consumers. The brand, primarily based on Instagram, is selling workout clothing. It uses fit, beautiful models to promote its products and boasts extremely competitive pricing and fast shipping.
The apparel is a huge hit! But soon, the reviews and comments begin to pour in. Customers angrily lament that they never received a shipment, that the product was of poor quality, or that it was simply out of stock with no promise to restock anytime soon.
While a big buzz and commotion over a product is a big plus, brands should still be careful not to oversell or overpromise on its products. Be prepared for an influx of business, and be transparent on areas such as stock and shipping time. While some brands may just play these issues off as “growing pains”, consumer trust is hard to get back once it is lost. Growing pains or not, the brand should be making every effort possible to maintain authenticity and transparency when it comes to marketing.