By Becky Tumidolsky
For most B2B marketing professionals, the point of creating content is to build credibility, relationships, and trust. We expend a great deal of time and effort to ensure our content reads well and aligns with our branding goals. Once our content goes public, we hope audiences receive and respond to the message we’ve embedded between the lines:
We’re experts in our field.
We’re passionate about what we do.
We’re listening to you.
We understand your concerns.
We’re personally invested in solving your problems.
Thing is, if you’re not an open book—speaking in your voice, from your perspective, with your signature style—your audiences won’t bother reading between the lines. They won’t bother with you, in fact. You’ll fade from their consciousness as soon as they click away.
Think of it this way: In the content marketing arena, playing it safe is no longer safe. Writing lemming-like content that’s completely unoriginal (revealing next to nothing about who you are and what your brand stands for) is the quickest route to obsolescence.
I see lemming-like content every day. The headline might hold great promise, but what do audiences get when they click through? Another tired list of “tips” they could have culled from a million sources, a million times over? How many brands are following the same familiar template, eking out uninspired content simply to appease the “content beast”?
C’mon, people. It’s time to break free from the conventional wisdom that binds you.
B2B Authenticity Is Liberating
If your competitors are still stuck on dilbertesque corporate babble and marcom spin, you’ll materially distinguish your company and products/services.—Ed Marsh
As human beings, we all yearn to be ourselves, to speak our minds, to break the mold. As both marketers and consumers, we know that a brand’s true value originates with people and ideas, not transactions.
So why do so many B2B marketers hold back, preferring to deploy the same old industry spiel? It’s a bunker mentality: Authenticity carries risk. Open up too much, and we become more vulnerable and less in control of defining the brand.
That’s a crying shame.
The reality is that authentic marketing and branding free us to express ourselves in ways that capture and drive home our brand essence rather than our products, features, and price points.
Since audiences have made clear that they want (and reward) original, creative, clever, revealing content, let’s shed our inhibitions and lay bare our desire and capacity for real, purposeful, impactful B2B communication.
B2B Authenticity Is All-Important
It’s important to find your own personal voice in the social sphere to have an even bigger impact and be your authentically awesome self.—Sofie De Beule
B2B content consumers (particularly key decision makers) have no love for hacks, slick talkers, and sneaky self-promoters. They can spot these hucksters a mile away.
Although most content marketers aim for a higher standard, the demands of producing effective content on a consistent basis can, over time, make shortcuts look tantalizing. As authenticity takes a hit, so do quality, impact, and brand reputation. Increasingly sophisticated audiences thumb their noses at warmed-over boilerplate and spin in a slick package; they expect—nay, demand—a heartfelt dialogue that caters to them.
In his recent article for Entrepreneur, Jason Daley discusses what successful brands are doing well—irrespective of their dedicated marketing efforts:
Many of the top brands have little or no budget dedicated to marketing, or they don’t distinguish it from other initiatives such as sales or service. Instead, the best brands rely on something much more precious—authenticity. They deliver on their brand promises . . . in a way that shows a genuine interest in serving the customer.
We all know what happens when brands make promises they can’t or won’t fulfill. For example, letting clients’ and prospects’ feedback go unanswered or publishing ill-timed or tone-deaf social media posts aren’t just faux pas; they’re major breaches of trust. That’s because they convey a lack of caring: a cardinal sin in today’s consumer-driven marketing environment.
What does your brand promise? Is it a superior client experience? Exceptional value? Enduring relationships? If you have a deeply held purpose that fuels your enterprise and drives you to compete, you need to unveil it for all to see—and put it into practice with every communication.
B2B Authenticity: What Say You?
How can we marketers convince reluctant B2B brands to expose themselves to the world? If there’s such a thing as too authentic in B2B marketing, where would you draw the line? Please share your thoughts below!
Since 2001, Becky Tumidolsky has written awareness-building content for B2B brands and their discerning audiences. Her work has appeared in leading publications such as Forbes, U.S.News & World Report, Bloomberg Markets, Newsweek, and Inc. as well as corporate blogs, websites, white papers, and other content assets.
Becky loves writing fluid, error-free prose. She’s even more passionate about building the foundation for her work—uncovering core brand distinctions, framing them thematically, and developing fresh, compelling narratives that advance corporate strategies.