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Authentic Marketing: How to Attract More Customers by Removing the Hype

  • Joshua Delos ReyesJoshua Delos Reyes

Are you tempted to use hype and exaggeration, so you can cut through the noise and get your audiences to pay attention?

“Double your profits in 7 days or less, guaranteed!”

“The best CRM software in the world!”

“10x your website traffic with just a few clicks!”

If you find yourself veering towards claims like that, restrain yourself. Hype annoys prospects and customers.

Up to 76 percent of survey respondents think that advertising is exaggerated and 32 percent of the total respondents say they know what ads are “trying to do.”

Prospective customers can smell hype from a mile away. They’re aware of the manipulation tactics of marketers.

If the offer is too good to be true, sounds like a scam, or is too pushy, customers already know what to do: will leave and never come back.

In the early days of marketing, hype and exaggeration worked. Businesses got more sales within a short period of time. However, customers felt disappointed when they found out that the claims were false, after all. The companies’ reputation suffered; they lost many customers.

When You Remove the Hype, What Should You Do Then?

How can you then market and sell effectively without resorting to hype?

The answer is to be helpful and authentic.

“Authenticity becomes a much more desirable property than exaggeration,” this Harvard Business School article says.

Being helpful is the core of effective content marketing:

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” – Content Marketing Institute

Being authentic and helpful also makes your statements more believable. Customers feel you’re thinking about their best interests.

This also sets your business up for sucess in the long term. That’s because you’re building trust among your customers.

Authenticity can also help you stand out, because being authentic is not common. Many businesses feel the pressure to make the same promises and use hype. Authenticity brings a breath of fresh air to audiences.

Build Authenticity by Being Straightforward

One way to build authenticity is by being straightforward. Instead of saying “We’re a company that is committed to delivering 100% customer satisfaction,” you can just say “We offer a money-back guarantee.”

The latter is more concrete and straightforward. The customers know what to expect.

In contrast, “100% customer satisfaction” is vague. What does it even mean? Does it mean the company will do everything to make the customer happy? Don’t make the customer think.

With a clear and straightforward money-back guarantee on your landing page, customers know exactly what you’re guaranteeing.

Being straightforward removes both hype and abstraction.

Write the Way You Talk to a Friend or Family Member

Another way to build authenticity and remove the hype is to write as if you’re talking to a friend or family member.

“The consumer isn’t a moron,” advertising legend David Ogilvy said, “She is your wife.”

What Ogilvy said is just as relevant today. That’s because customers now have the internet where they can easily find out if your claims are true. They can also read online reviews from other customers about your business.

What happens if you use hype when talking to a friend or family? It’s likely they won’t believe you. They won’t take you seriously. But if you stay authentic, they will believe what you say.

Imagine you’re talking to your family when you’re crafting your offer or writing your landing page. You’ll tend to use straightforward sentences and make believable promises.

You will also tell your background story. Your approach would be more sincere, approachable, and helpful as a result.

Notice how internet marketer Pat Flynn sounds human and real when he tells his story:

authentic marketing 3

Anticipate Your Audience’s Questions

Aside from being authentic, being helpful will make your customers trust your business. To be helpful, you must first figure out what specific kind of help they’re looking for.

You can figure that out by anticipating your audiences’ questions. Say, for example, that you’re selling an online course about marketing automation. Prospects might wonder, “Do I get access to updated versions of your course?”

You can answer their questions in your website’s FAQ section or right on your landing page. The key is to put yourself in the audience’s shoes. Then ask yourself what would be your main concerns about the product.

Customers will always have concerns before buying a product. Address them before they look for answers elsewhere.

When you address their concerns, audiences perceive you as being helpful.

Here’s a good example from Wistia:

authentic marketing 4

Tell the Truth About Your Business

Believe it or not, honesty in marketing pays off. This applies to both huge companies and small businesses. Let’s take the example of Avis, a car rental company.

Avis was losing money. They hadn’t been profitable for over a decade. They were only number two in the car rental service in terms of market share.

But things started to change when they ran the campaign, “When you’re only No.2, you try harder. Or else.”

They admitted they were only second in the market. The amazing thing was they took advantage of their second-place status and reframed it as a strength. This campaign made $1.2 million within a year.

authentic marketing 5

Small businesses can also make their (lack of) size a strength. Instead of pretending to be a huge business or being No.1, small business owners can emphasize how being smaller makes them better.

For example, small businesses value each individual customer. That’s because they don’t have as many customers as huge corporations do. Small businesses need each and every customer to survive, and they can give better attention to each one.

You can take advantage of this when you’re promoting your business. You can offer personalized services (in contrast to the cookie-cutter approach given by large companies) and treat each client as a VIP.

authentic marketing 6

Tell True Stories from Your Satisfied Customers

Why do you think Amazon and other e-commerce sites feature user-generated reviews? The reason is customers  look at them first before they buy a product.

Using testimonials is a way to take advantage of the power of word of mouth marketing. According to a McKinsey study, 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions are mainly driven by word of mouth. Customers value the opinions of other people.

Customers don’t want to make mistakes when buying anything, so they look to hear and learn from other people’s experiences. So if you add testimonials to your landing page, your prospects will feel at ease. They will realize that your product or service, in fact, has worked for others.

Instead of using exaggerations, let your satisfied customers do the talking. It sounds more genuine and your prospects can relate more than when you toot your own horn.

“Instead of using exaggerations, let your satisfied customers do the talking.”

Tweet Me

Audience Building Testimonials

What if your business is still new and you don’t have any testimonials yet?

You could offer free products or services first, in exchange for a testimonial from those who are genuinely pleased. Do this for a limited time and ask what results they got. Aside from gathering new testimonials, you also get useful feedback about your offer. You can use that to further improve your product. You hit two birds with one stone.

Always ask your clients how they felt working with you. Their recommendations will build up your credibility. You can highlight their statements on your website and landing pages.

Don’t Try to Please Everyone

What do some of the hyped ads have in common? They try to please everyone. They say their product is good for everyone no matter who and where they are. Worse, they try to please even the audiences who won’t find any use for the product.

Even if you manage to snag clients this way, it will only work in the short term. You won’t generate repeat sales. According to a Bain & Company study, repeat purchasers spend more and generate larger transactions.

Repeat customers also often refer more people and bring in more business. If you try to please everyone, you won’t get many repeat customers. The reason is you won’t hear again from the customers who bought because of the hype and false promises.

What works is to become clear and specific.

Let’s look at this example.

Instead of saying “This is the ultimate guide for ALL men to attracting women,” the author became specific by implying “This is for introverted men.”

Only 16-50 percent of the total population are introverts. That means the author is turning away up to one-half of potential customers. However, the message is more targeted. Introverted men are more likely to respond because it speaks directly to them.

Removing the hype and being specific also focuses your marketing efforts. It means you’ll only reach out to people who are most likely to buy. You’ll spend less money in ads. You’ll also spend less time and effort reaching out to people.

When people who really want your product buy from you, they are likely to become repeat customers. They’ll feel that your product was specifically designed for them. They’ll be ready to listen to your next offers.

Those repeat customers will also be happy to spread the word about your business. Pleasing just a small part of the population is a long-term strategy to attracting more customers.

Remove the Hype and Sell More

Here’s a quick recap of what you can do instead of using hype in your marketing:

  • Be authentic and helpful.
  • Write like you talk to a friend or family member.
  • Anticipate your audience’s questions and answer them.
  • Own up to your shortcomings.
  • Use testimonials to let happy customers do the talking for you.
  • Be clear and specific.

Do you struggle to be authentic in your marketing? What do you do to be more helpful to your audience? Tell us in the comments below.

9 thoughts on Authentic Marketing: How to Attract More Customers by Removing the Hype

Cynthia Ann Leighton

This makes a lot of sense to me. Thanks! I do not want to use hype.

Amar kumar

Hey Joshua,

Authenticity is one of the buzzwords that’s circulating in the online marketing world. Authentic marketing flies in the face of traditional marketing with its sizzle, flash and empty promises, what it offers is the chance to forge a meaningful connection with the customers which we serve. Consumer loyalty is priceless, and it’s not won by businesses who have to fib about their products. Consumer loyalty is built on the foundation of honest, ethical business and solid value. It’s built on authenticity.

Being truthful and transparent isn’t about airing our political views on social media or calling out our competitors. Instead, it simply refers to drawing back the curtains on our business and not hiding anything from our audience. Eventually, thanks for sharing much interesting thought with us.

With best wishes,

Amar kumar

Joshua Delos Reyes

You’re welcome, Amar Kumar.

“Being truthful and transparent isn’t about airing our political views on social media or calling out our competitors. Instead, it simply refers to drawing back the curtains on our business and not hiding anything from our audience.”

It resonated with me. I agree with you that being honest with customers and focusing on them is the way.

Sherry Reese

Since I have little training in marketing, it’s very helpful to get a list of specific examples of how to follow through on these best practices. I know I want to be authentic and have all intentions of being authentic. But it’s all too easy to unconsciously mimic the kind of marketing we’re exposed as consumers, especially during our youngest years. Your list of specific actions and the examples really helps me find my own true authentic voice. Thank you for a clear and practical guide.

Joshua Delos Reyes

I’m glad you found it useful, Sherry. I agree with you that being authentic is also about actions, not just intentions. It’s also cool to see examples from other successful entrepreneurs whom we can learn from.

Joshua Delos Reyes

You’re welcome, Marlene. I’m glad I could somehow help with your launch through my article. From launch to growing the business, authenticity is the way to go.

Catherine Faure

Joshua, your article is showing how being authentic in marketing is so valuable. This got me thinking. You know, once you get into that frame of mind–authenticity–the rest can happen naturally: you’re being authentic, so it will be natural for you to help people by providing valuable content or replying to their questions. In turn, those readers will feel that you are looking to their best interests; they will see you as more believable, and in time, they will trust you and you will stand out. It all starts by just being yourself, nothing more, and of course, that need to reach out to people. It all flows from being authentic. Thank you for reminding us.

Joshua Delos Reyes

Well said, Catherine. I especially like what you said about “frame of mind.” Whenever we write or market something, looking to the customers’ best interests will help businesses gain trust and stand out. I also believe that there’s always someone better than us (or something better than our products). There’s the competition. The way to stand out is to be authentic and remain true to ourselves.

Marlene McPherson

Joshua this is a just in time article for me. Thanks. I am preparing to launch and all that you have said is quite relevant. Danny always speak to this issue of authenticity and I believe it too. M

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