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You’ve heard so much about authenticity that you probably consider it a buzzword. It shouldn’t be. whopping 88 percent of consumers consider it important when deciding which brands to support.
And by authenticity I mean an actual alignment between your internal sense of self and the way you express it or show it to your audience. For example, this is what being authentic can look like in your business:
- Making sure your values aren’t just a website part: your audience needs to feel them when they interact with you
- Engage with your community and make the most of user-generated content
- Using brand photography that captures your personality instead of staged corporate photos
- Being self-aware and self-reflective as a leader
Unfortunately, many brands and entrepreneurs preach authenticity, but not many embrace it. Not quite, at least. After all, it’s much more comfortable to hide behind a persona and mimic what our competitors are doing.
So I can’t blame you if you keep telling yourself you’ll be more authentic but are too scared to try.
While it may take you a while to get used to, I promise, the benefits are worth it!
Related: Authentic Leadership: What Is It And Why Is It Important?
1. You attract an audience that understands you and shares your values
Why do so many entrepreneurs fail to show up authentically? In my experience, this is mainly because they are afraid that they will appeal to fewer people. In reality, by hiding who you are in hopes of being liked more, you’re missing out on those who would be obsessed with you!
I am living proof of this. When I started out as a wedding photographer, I went for a traditional sounding name and a traditional white and gray palette. It couldn’t be further from my personality. I just did what I thought my audience wanted and surprised, I ended up attracting… the most traditional of brides.
After transitioning to personal brand photography for female business executives and appearing authentically, I began to attract clients who, like me, embraced bright colors and whimsy. Clients who are good humored, creative and fun to work with.
If you are a service provider, working with your kind of people will improve every working day. For product-based businesses, it will translate into an army of loyal, self-proclaimed brand ambassadors, especially on social media.
2. You cut through all the white noise
Marketing copy filled with buzzwords, stuffy headshots, the same blog posts your competitors write… looking and sounding like everyone else in our industry makes us feel safe. But why should our audience choose us over the rest?
When you begin to appear authentic, on the contrary, you can attract their attention. Dare to make your B2B website less boring, impress your audience with colorful photos, write articles that add something new to your industry, and so on.
3. You build trust more easily
Put yourself in the shoes of your dream audience. You spot sustainability in a section ‘our values’ and you will find a lot of disposable plastic in the actual products. You read that a company should be a nice family, but all the photos show uncomfortable employees in rigid postures.
Hard to trust them, isn’t it? The problem with fake authenticity is that customers can see right through it, especially Gen Z.
When your marketing actually backs up your statements, it will be easier for your audience to trust you.
Related: 3 Ways to Use Authenticity to Build Customer Loyalty
4. You make real connections and inspire others
Authenticity can be downright scary at first! It makes us feel vulnerable and exposed. Maybe that’s why you still cling to that impeccable business personality who always looks impeccable and never makes mistakes.
But guess what? People buy from people, as in flawed, real people! When you show yourself for who you are, you make more meaningful connections. Your authenticity can even inspire others (employees, customers, followers… you name it) to do the same.
For example, many business women keep putting off their photo shoots because they feel incredibly insecure about being photographed. Well, I’m not the most confident person, nor the perfect size. However, instead of hiding, I kept showing up with daring behind-the-scenes photos and videos.
This has encouraged more and more businesswomen to try it too, after accepting what society wants them to see as shortcomings. Then the most authentic brand photos arise!
5. You make your business work for you, not the other way around
A lack of authenticity often leads to embracing other people’s processes or strategies simply because that’s how things work.
For example, some solopreneurs feel pressured to refer to themselves as us to pretend to be a company. At the same time, some others charge more by spinning on the fact that there is only one of them.
Some photographers may be ashamed to say that they work from their own home. I love to put my clients at ease right from the start thanks to my welcoming home studio.
But you can’t make your business work for your unique situation if you keep forcing yourself to copy what others are doing.
6. It finally feels right
Having a persona or following someone else’s definition of success can make you feel safe. But be honest: does it feel good deep inside too? Not for me. I find that when I’m not true to myself, my business feels like I’m pretending.
You started your business because you wanted to create a better life. How can you do that when you force yourself into a mold that doesn’t match your actual shapes?
Do not get me wrong. At first, appearing authentic can feel scary and uncomfortable. However, if you’ve been doing it for a while, it starts to feel natural and good.
You wake up every morning knowing you’ve built a business that’s true to your true ethos and attracts like-minded individuals. Isn’t that worth a little inconvenience?
Related: The Importance of Authentic Passion in Business