What is authenticity really?

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For the most recent episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast I got real – as in Authentic, with James Gilmore, co-author of Authenticity what consumers really want.

I was reading the back of a box of Captain Crunch cereal (Yes, I was eating it) and it struck me a bit odd that they claimed it possessed some kind of real goodness. Everybody wants to be real – problem is you can’t be real, you are real, and that’s what consumers want.

If something is real, authentic, then you don’t need to say it – in fact, when someone tells you how real they are its often a reason to be suspicious. For example, there’s the “House of real meat, cooked only on real charcoal” O.K., I don’t know where to start with that one, but I do know that if you can tap something authentic, put it in everything that you do, live it and create a story around it, then you might find your marketing life won’t revolve around price any longer.

So, how do create authentic experiences? How do you become more than a commodity?


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  1. I asked a question on linkedin.com about this very subject of authenticity. I believe one of the authors of the book might have answered the question. Here’s a synopsis of responses.

    -Authenticity comes from your background, learned from parents.

    -Authenticity cannot be taught.

    -It can be taught, but best taught by those people who have wrestled with their own identity.

    -If you tell a good enough story that will be enough to be authentic.

    -It’s not a matter of just being honest, you also have the expertise to share the customer’s perspective, and you have to be relevant. (Good quote from Ryan Turner, “Presence reveals authority. expression demonstrates originality. visibility betrays credibility. experience builds authenticity– wherever you work, whatever you learn.”)

    -Marketers need to study marketing to be authentic.

    -Failure and learning from failing is authentic.

    -Stories are important, they have to be true though, and be able to withstand public scrutiny.

    I was wondering which camp are you in? Authenticity can be taught or not?

  2. Hey John,

    Thanks for sharing – awesome content.

    I do believe that it can be learned and practiced, but I don’t think many people can wake up one day and say I think I’ll take a class so I can be more authentic.

    I do, however, think that a company can say, gosh darn it, let’s be more like us and not worry what everyone else in our industry does anymore – than authenticity can be found and communicated.

  3. I have always felt it better to deal with customers, or anybody for that matter in an honest manner. When I first read this, I thought the question was ‘can a product be authentic?’, but then I have a blog where I talk about my Melaleuca products along with MLM marketing and questions such as these. Good Post.

    Diane Voisley

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