Being given direction over and over again without clarification or elaboration can be downright frustrating.
We’re guilty of this in marketing. When we repeatedly suggest that authenticity is the secret sauce to writing amazing content, what are we actually saying? The word “authentic,” as the wise and witty Ann Handly argues, is a lovely but vague directive, but “no one knows what it means.”
It has become a marketing buzzword — but buzzwords do have their place. They offer nice, concise ways to say what we mean without having to spell it out every time. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t occasionally revisit the definition to ensure we haven’t gotten off track.
That’s why we wanted to offer this deeper dive into what it means — what it REALLY means — to write authentic content.
1 — What is Authenticity, Anyway?
The thing about authenticity is that everyone wants it from other people, but it can be hard to do the self-work to identify it from within. That sentence? That’s authenticity. It’s the unvarnished truth, but not cruelty.
Authenticity is derived from boiling down who you are — whether that be your brand, your workforce, or simply (and most importantly!) yourself — and mixing the distillate with a pinch of who you hope you are when you connect with others.“The thing about authenticity is that everyone wants it from other people, but it can be hard to do the self-work to identify it from within.” — Theresa Meis @TMeisWrites Click To Tweet
2 — Identifying Your Authentic Voice
This top-down checklist of roles you fulfill as a writer should help you find center again when you’re searching for your authentic voice.
You Are The Brand
B2B content writers are masterful performers, donning the robes of brand identity and addressing the audience as the personification of whatever product, service, or idea the brand offers.
Brand authenticity is accomplished by honoring an organization’s agreed-upon values and mission through your writing. The good news is that more organizations are clarifying what those people-centered values are at the brand identity level, and you get to help amplify that to the world.“Brand authenticity is accomplished by honoring an organization's agreed-upon values and mission through your writing.” — Theresa Meis @TMeisWrites Click To Tweet
You Are the People
The organization you write for may be an industry leader, composed of thousands of workers spread across the entire globe. Or, it could be a handful of visionaries working night and day to launch the next great thing.
You might be asked to write on behalf of any number of leaders or experts within your organization. Authenticity is important for adding the flavor of their voice to your brand messaging.
You Are Yourself
As B2B content writers, we write from behind a mask, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have truths to offer.
When you allow yourself to tap into your own deep well of personal experience, you elevate your writing from brand pitch to engaging storyweaving. And, yes, even if you’re writing about the most niche software solution.
The insights into human nature learned from, say, bartending in college have given you wisdom that informs the way you approach problem-solving for people who are overworked and stressed (your Monday to Thursday clientele) and how to communicate unabashed exuberance (the Friday/Saturday crowd).
Now, you probably shouldn’t tell those stories (I mean, it really does depend on the brand voice at your organization), but while you’re drawing on those memories while writing, your brain is in a human-centered space.
That, right there, is the secret sauce of authentic writing.
3 — Why We Need Authenticity In B2B Marketing
People don’t think of B2B purchases as an emotional buying decision, but if humans are involved, so are emotions… It’s no longer enough to inform customers, we’ve got to make them feel.” – Lee Odden, CEO at TopRank Marketing
These words from TopRank Marketing co-founder and CEO Lee Odden reflect the movement within B2B marketing to enrich content through connecting with customers at the human level. This sentiment also reflects the reason why human-centered content is now and will continue to be invaluable for B2B marketing.
Your B2B Audience Is People, Too
This is the biggest reason why content marketing should strive to be authentic.
For far too long, B2B marketing was focused on connecting the cogs of industry, forgetting that we’re the cogs!
A recent Gartner customer study revealed some startling truths about the B2B buyer journey:
- 89% of buyers felt the information they encountered in a recent purchase was generally of high quality, relevant, and evidenced. However…
- Over half of all B2B buyers surveyed reported feeling overwhelmed by the volume of trustworthy information they encountered as part of their purchase journey.
Rising above the noise requires a different approach, and the best way to differentiate yourself as a brand, as a seller, or as an individual human being is to embrace authenticity.“Rising above the noise requires a different approach, and the best way to differentiate yourself as a brand, as a seller, or as an individual human being is to embrace authenticity.” — Theresa Meis @TMeisWrites Click To Tweet
It’s About Solving People Problems
Behind every B2B problem is a people problem.
A machine goes down on the factory floor. The floor manager doesn’t know about it until it’s too late and serious damage has been done. The part is stuck in a shipping container somewhere, so the run of parts is behind, meaning everyone has to pull overtime to make it work. A lot of family dinners and little league games are being missed.
Software that alerts the floor manager to potential machine problems could have helped them avoid this whole cascade of problems.
But, which problem in that list is the one that matters most?
B2B always has been about solving people problems.“B2B always has been about solving people problems.” — Theresa Meis @TMeisWrites Click To Tweet
Your Brand Needs You
You are the secret sauce for authenticity in content writing, and authentic content writing is the secret sauce for exceptional B2B marketing.
A final fascinating insight shared by Gartner looked ahead to the state of B2B marketing and selling over the next five years. “The best sales organizations will equip sellers to engage customers very differently with information. Sellers will pivot from being the source of information to helping customers make sense out of everything they’re learning, irrespective of source.”
Brands that solve people problems will stand apart. Dig deep, embrace your authenticity, and get to solving people problems!
Ready to elevate your B2B marketing? Connect with our experts now!