Have you ever heard a story and thought to yourself, “Some of those details just don’t add up. I can’t put my finger on it, but something just doesn’t feel right…?”
You can thank your gut instinct for that feeling. It’s like your natural, built-in authenticity meter sounding its alarm.
See, when we sense a discrepancy in the stories we hear or read, we’re really raising a mental red flag about the storyteller, not just about the story being told. And it’s our human nature to smell a lie from a mile away.
So when this happens, we immediately lose some (or all) of our trust in that person and are hesitant to ever give it back. These same principles hold true for your business; your customers can see right through you if you’re faking it, and in the end you’ll only be hurting your bottom line.
That’s why I’ve decided to spend time discussing the concept of why you can’t fake authenticity in today’s article. By the end, you’ll learn how to be your most authentic self so your customers will fall in love with you and your brand for real.
Let’s Define Authenticity First
In today’s crowded marketplace, consumers just don’t have time for inauthenticity. When they spot something that doesn’t add up, they’ll just pick up and leave—which is definitely not something you can afford.
So with that being said, let’s define authenticity so we’re all on the same page.
After a quick search, the simplest definition for our purposes is the quality of being genuine.
When I think of someone who is genuine, I usually also find the following traits to be present:
Now, on the opposite side, if I don’t find someone genuine, I usually also see signs of:
- Close Mindedness
- Low Self-Esteem
My goal today is to help you get your brand (or self) into the first category so that your customers can see you as true, vulnerable, and transparent. That’s what will resonate with them.
So how do you get there?
Explore the Uncomfortable
First, you’ll need to pay attention to everything that makes you uncomfortable. Generally speaking, when we feel uncomfortable, it’s a sign that we need to explore this aspect further to see what’s really going on beneath the surface.
You could be hesitant about writing your personal bio or publishing an engaging blog post each week, for example.
Maybe it’s not the literal idea of writing your bio, but the idea of promoting yourself that’s really making you uncomfortable. My guess is that you don’t want to come across as self-promoting or pompous since these probably go against what you stand for.
So how can you tackle this issue?
If the thought of writing an impersonal third person bio makes you uncomfortable, toss that outdated concept out the window and do what feels right for you. This could translate to a bio that’s written in first person using a direct, yet casual and warm tone instead of a robotic and cold one.
Customers will love this so much more! In fact, they’ll think of you as a fresh innovator just for ditching that outdated language and speaking as yourself.
Action tip: Find out what’s really holding you back by exploring what makes you so uncomfortable to begin with. Chances are, you’re uncomfortable because you’re going against your authentic self.
Once you’ve identified what makes you squirm, try to spin your own version of that activity so it feels right again.
Toss Out Anything You Would Not Use in Person
Speaking of using outdated language, it’s time to throw out the big words.
Okay, so that may sound uneducated at first, but stay with me.
Whenever someone wants to come across as an expert or knowledgeable about a certain topic, their first instinct is to use the advanced jargon that goes along with their industry. The problem: fancy words don’t help anyone sound smarter.
In fact, it does just the opposite, right? We almost can’t take someone seriously when they use such complex words in normal conversation. That’s because it doesn’t sound authentic.
Action tip: My best rule of advice here is to use the exact language you’d use in person whenever you’re writing or speaking to your customers. And this goes for in-print and online.
Yes, while it is true that some of your customers will have no problem understanding the complex words in your stellar vocabulary, most simply do not have the time or mental energy to sift through something that long-winded.
Keep it simple and to the point and your customers will thank you for it.
Open Up & Practice Humility (Even When You Don’t Want To)
The last bits of advice I have to give about authenticity are:
- Open yourself up
- Always practice humility
Let’s tackle the first one.
The Art of Sharing Your Story
In order for your customers to understand how your brand will help them in some way, they have to make a genuine connection with you first. This means they need to relate to you in one way or another.
The best way to do this is to share your story. And I mean your true story. Not the one you think people want to hear. I’m talking about the one that actually happened.
You should also share the exact challenges you faced and even the uncomfortable feelings that surfaced. These are the details people look for and relate to the most; they’re the ones that will resonate with them and create a bond between you and your customers.
Action tip: You can dedicate your About page to showcasing this side of you, or you can sprinkle these tidbits throughout your blog posts.
So as you write for your brand or website, don’t be afraid to tell your stories and go over your unique struggles in order to explain how you overcame them. People love to read about others overcoming adversity—it gives them hope that they can tackle the same issues, too.
Next, let’s take a look at humility.
The Art of Helping Others
The reason I combined these two pieces of advice is due to the fact that they go hand-in-hand and must balance each other out.
I hate to say it, but no one wants to hear you ramble on about yourself all the time. So while I want you to open up, I also need you to understand that you’ll be doing so in order to help others. That’s where the humility aspect comes in.
See, with humility, you’re placing the needs of others before your own. And to do this successfully, you’ll need to open up first, but only for the sole purpose of helping those around you. Kind of like the circle of life—except it’s the circle of authenticity.
Action tip: So, each time you create something to share with your audience, you need to determine how it will help them first.
Once you’ve narrowed that down, you can connect the dots by sharing your experience plus some helpful advice on how you overcame the issue at hand.
This makes you both relatable and trustworthy, which are two traits that every customer looks for in a brand.
In the end, the brands that remain authentic and true to their voice are the ones that do the best. Customers have a tendency to smell phoniness and inauthenticity and look for brands that aren’t afraid to be genuine.
But to do this successfully, you need to uncover your true self (or your brand’s true self) by diving into what makes you uncomfortable.
Once you know who you are, you can share your story with the world and really open up. Remember to balance this with humility by considering how this will also help your audience. That’s the real key to remaining authentic: Being yourself while helping others along the way.