June 14, 2024

Do We Really Want So Called “Authentic” Marketing?

Do you think you’ve got to be authentic in order to be a successful marketer these days, especially with social media savvy audiences and consumers?

You’ve probably heard some of your favorite marketers use phrases like “keeping it real,” “transparency” or “authenticity” to describe their personal marketing approach compared to others?

I have, and when I do, I wince. I hope you’re not doing that too.

Here’s why:

I think it gives the wrong message about actual marketing. It seems that for some people, it’s an excuse to forget Marketing 101, and default to egocentrism.

If your focus is on yourself instead of the people you’re trying reach and influence, then you’re missing the point of marketing.

I’m the first to cheer that the world of marketing has changed for the better. People gravitate toward a greater emphasis on human voices over canned messages and phony speak.

But I don’t think the goal should be to “keep it real,” or brag about “transparency” just for the sake of it without noting best marketing practices.

These phrases are over-used, and often misunderstood in a marketing context.

I argue that these buzzwords are an excuse to not do the real work required of marketing. And I think it cheapens the work it takes to become an effective marketer.

And you know what else?

For me, it sets off alarms. Sorta like when you hear a person say,

“To be honest…”

Which makes me wonder when that person really IS being honest.

Good marketers know their audience, and therefore know when to use their best filter.

“Keeping it real” for the sake of saying so isn’t that helpful. Nor is it honest.

And that’s my argument …

Present your most helpful side to the people who need it, and do so with as much genuine interest in other people’s success as you can possibly muster. That’s the kind of business sense that will serve people much more than “keeping it real” or being “transparent” or priding yourself in being “authentic.”

About Eric Walker

Eric is an 80/20 Marketing staff member and marketing collaborator. He spends his days writing content and copy for a marketing purpose. Eric is an optimist. He believes in a bright future and our ability to build it together. If you have a question, and/or would like to communicate with Eric directly, email Eric@8020MarketingInc.com


  1. Hello Eric,

    I agree we should not act like “authentic marketers”, but like problem solvers and focus our attention on how we can make a real difference in other’s life. That’s the bottom line in my book.

    Thanks for the share


  2. Hello Eric,

    I don’t believe in marketing for the sake of marketing, to push products which people do not want. Instead, I believe in striving towards getting that all elusive “whoa, what a service and product I got” remark from the person whom I wish to sell my products and services. This is because a satisfied customer is any day better advertisement for you than all the efforts and money you expend on phony marketing techniques that cost you a bomb.

  3. Mike Klingler says:

    When people talk of authentic marketing, they are speaking of aligning who you are (your core values, life experiences, interests and goals) with a need (or problem to solve) in the marketplace. Obviously, without solving a need there is no marketing.

    I prefer, as do most for self-evident reasons, to interact with those who seem authentic or genuine.

    The used car salesmen, who is anything but genuine, is what comes to mind when I read this article. It’s the most egocentric people who seem the least authentic or genuine.

    You can align your core values, life experiences, personal interests and goals with a need in the marketplace. But it has to be your intent to do so. Otherwise, it’s easy to get lost.

    Mike Klingler

    • Mike,

      you wrote,

      “When people talk of authentic marketing, they are speaking of aligning who you are (your core values, life experiences, interests and goals) with a need (or problem to solve) in the marketplace.”

      I think that is more YOU that says that, and I COMPLETELY agree with you. No doubt.

      But when I look out into the market place, I see more people sharing their core values, life experiences, interests and goals than anything. Most aren’t aligning the former with the latter (“problem to solve”).

      It is a challenge, but a good challenge to aspire.

      • Mike Klingler says:

        Well, ya, if that’s what someone’s doing then they’re not really marketing.

        What I see more often is a heavy emphasis the other way, where people will pretend to care about their customers when it’s very transparent they don’t. They focus so heavily and creating the perception that they should be trusted that it comes off as disingenuous. They then attract disingenuous people and build up a disingenuous community; and it creates the perception for those considering online business for the first time that the entire marketing industry is disingenuous. I see this as a defining characteristic of the online marketing industry at the moment, and something I feel strongly about changing.

        But certainly, I’d agree with you on the point that if you’re not addressing the needs of a market, solving their problems and framing the context of your message in this way, you’re not really marketing you’re just tooting your horn.

  4. I think that there’s a way to be authentic in marketing and reaching people’s interests in the same time. Authentic doesn’t necessarily means to shout all the inconvenient of our product, but I think it’s more about promoting products that are really going to help our customers.

    Offering a quality/price product that you consider as “filling your values” is a kind of authenticity, doing a marketing campaign without saying false aspects that will solve “this or that” problem is a kind of authenticity, because when you say in your marketing message that your product solve this and that, then you must deliver the merchandise.

    Authenticity Marketing? I agree with it, but it must come from the deep conviction of the entrepreneur of keeping thing like he wanted to established them : clear and authentic.

  5. Interesting balance to this “be yourself concept” concept, thanks Eric.

    I think as long as people keep in mind what the goal of being themselves is (help others, make money), they will be marketing naturally. Vs. trying to be a “professional” marketer… anything that starts looking like corporate America is just not going to appeal to most people in today’s environment.

    I mean seriously do we want a sea of professional marketers online who all look, talk and walk the same?

    The other component is leadership, at least in the home business industry.

    And it’s pretty hard to convey leadership if your focus is too self-centered. I also think many home business marketers are missing a huge opportunity by not creating a brand outside of their own name… but that’s a subject for another post!

    • Tim,

      You’re right, no one wants a sea of professional marketers online who all look, talk and walk the same.

      And I agree, the goal of being one’s self is to help others, make money.

      It just can’t be done without a darn compelling offer, and all the necessary components of marketing, and that is what I think a lot of folks lose site of.

  6. Good comments here.

    Seth Godin famously said that authenticity in marketing is telling a story people want to hear, (or lying) and then making the story a reality.

    It’s your story that matters, but only to the extent that it helps people tell the story they want to tell about themselves. And that’s Marketing 101 in a social media age.

    That’s about as real as it gets.

  7. When I think about authenticity in marketing, I think about the great marketers who don’t put on a show. They really are like that in person. Examples include Diane Hochman, Ray Higdon, Todd Falcone (these are people I have actually met) etc.

  8. Hello Eric and my other friends on the discussion:

    Briefly, let me introduce to you all, I am a networker from India having about 5 years of experience, having promoted all kinds of products and services, and at the end of it all drew a blank if I ask myself did I earn or lose, lost heavily financially, lost good number of relationships and friendships promoting phoney companies which promised moon but did not even deliver the cost of the product which they got. Ultimately, having this kind of experience, now I know what to do and what not to do and started my own company and marketing it in a way that I am proud of. Authenticity marketing, in a nutshell to me is, promise what you can deliver and deliver what you can promise, it is enough if you have only a team of 2 people who believe in you rather 2000 people whom you are indebted emotionally for being responsible for parting with their hard earned money promoting a third party companies. How I wish, I could repay each one of my downlines with my own hard earned money and earn back the credibility of all those people? So, ultimately, it comes down to this, I am yet to find a company that genuinely delivers the promise that promises to deliver.

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