Being authentic is hard.
If it was easy, more companies would be real in how they share their stories.
But we’re now living in era where lying doesn’t work. Customers don’t want to be sold to through clever ads.
People are putting up ad blockers in an attempt to bypass irritating and intrusive advertisements.
Today, companies have no choice but to be authentic, which is a powerful way to connect with audiences.
This was the main message that came out of marketer Gina Balarin’s talk during this year’s Content Marketing World Conference.
Why does authentic content convert? It converts because it allows people to see themselves in the content you produce.
This creates connection.
When content marketers talk about humanizing content, it means focussing on the needs of people rather than on your product or service.
If you want to know whether your company is ready for authenticity, ask yourself these questions:
1. Does your company leadership really know what your customers want?
2. Do they care?
Balarin offers the example of Merchant Capital, a money-lending company in South Africa catering to small businesses.
The company twinned authenticity with empathy in its marketing campaign and got impressive results.
Just as small businesses were going under amid the pandemic, Merchant Capital created back to business COVID toolkits, which got 2,600 downloads. It also developed a COVID-relief funding page that got 1,140 views.
The company also offered helpful advice to an array of small businesses, including a, "How to run a petrol station" article that saw more than 16,000 views.
Rather than asking customers for payments at a time when small businesses were struggling, Merchant Capital offered support through an authentic and empathic content strategy.
And it was a success.
Twenty-five percent of the company’s total new business revenue was influenced by its content marketing strategy.
“We connect with our users/customers on more than just a transactional level because we produce content that shows that we understand their needs and troubles as an entrepreneur,” said Amber Sarrimanolls, head of marketing at Merchant Capital.
For a company that has the challenge of being labelled a money lender, that is big.
There's a lesson here.
If you’re looking to creating content that connects with your customers, and offers them value, don’t think of them as a business.
Think of them as human.
I help companies grow by telling their stories.