When I started the Matt Brown Show, I had no choice but to be authentic. When you are creating something within a “live” environment, you have very little bandwidth to be anything but yourself.
Authenticity is a universal characteristic of a market leader, because when you are authentic it builds trust, and people will only do business with people who they trust.
When I was interviewing the mentalist Gilan Gork (grab the podcast here) he said:
“If you are going to sell something to someone, you need to answer three questions. Firstly, can I trust you? If you don’t have trust you won’t sell anything. Then, the next question you must answer is do you care about me? There is a distinct lack of caring in business so you must address that, and the final thing you must answer is can you help me? Do you have the track record, expertise and resources necessary to solve a problem? If you can answer those three questions you are well on your way to building a business.”
And this statement sums up why authenticity is so important. So, let’s look at trust, caring and help in the context of authenticity.
The Challenge of Being Authentic
The Trust Economy
Here’s the single most important thing about trust you need to know – it’s earnt in drops but lost in buckets. It generally takes a very long time to build trust with someone and an even longer time to build trust with an entire market. It’s typically expensive, time consuming and requires a ton of hard work. So, what do most businesses do? Advertise.
But here’s the problem with advertising. You can never educate anyone in the real-estate of a banner ad. It’s great for reaching people with a single message, but no single message can ever build trust. The reality today, is that people don’t trust advertising the way that they used to. I was at a speaking gig and one of the delegates asked my why some ads keep following him around the internet. There is very little, if any trust, in advertising anymore.
Advertising is like speed dating. You sit down for 30 seconds and you must get the person sitting on the other side of the table to like you. Anyone that’s ever been on a speed date will know that it very rarely pays off. Podcasting however, is like the day you get married. If you’re getting married to someone, they certainly trust you, think you care about them and think you have the resources necessary to make them happy. Invariably, you have been on countless dates, shared many of your life’s lessons and have had many shared experiences together.
This is what podcasting can do for your business too. It gives you a new way to build a relationship with someone, by creating a shared audio experience. Unlike advertising, it build’s authenticity and trust with your market and can wholly differentiate your business in your market – especially if all your competitors are only advertising.
The Care Bear
A new study from Wunderman, the WPP digital agency, found that 79% of consumers ages 18-65 in the U.S. say brands must actively demonstrate “they understand and care about me” before they consider purchasing. Here’s why that’s important.
The power of caring is a new type of currency in business. Tom’s Shoes is a $500,000,000 market cap company and the founder Blake Mycoskie built the entire business on the principle of caring. For every shoe that you buy from them, they will donate another pair of shoes to a person living in a disadvantaged community. The irony is, that Blake openly acknowledges that the shoes that they sell are ‘not that great and there are better quality products out there’ but consumers would rather buy from Toms than from competitors simply because they care more about the world than many other fashion brands do. When they make a promise like that, it makes them the most authentic brand in the fashion category and many other fashion brands are starting to follow the Toms model.
Every week I get feedback from listeners of my podcast the Matt Brown Show. The one theme that’s consistent between all of them is that they believe in the authenticity of my story and the importance of the work that I am doing for the entrepreneurship community of South Africa.
Podcasting gives you a new way to deliver that authenticity and at scale – my show now reaches 30,000 people per episode and it’s growing. By expressing my views, and promising to deliver great insights and lessons to my listener’s week in and week out, I create an itch in the market that only I can scratch.
A Question of Help
First National Bank (FNB) has occupied a positioning based around help for years. Just recently, they evolved their positioning from “how can we help you?” to “We help people, help themselves”. It’s a simple, but incredibly powerful message that conveys why you should bank with FNB.
We all need help. In business and in life we all need support along the way, and if you help someone do something or achieve something, it builds authenticity in terms of what you do because, people believe actions more than they believe words alone.
But FNB missed an opportunity. Instead of just doing one piece of video content, they could have created a 10-part podcast mini-series that dives into how they help people help themselves and then promoted their podcast across their social networks in conjunction with video. This would have built further equity for FNB and created an entirely new way to tell their story in a deeper and more authentic way.
In a world that is dominated by fake-news, photoshopped images and a wash of advertising, the need for authenticity has never been greater. Podcasting is on the cusp of a new wave in South African media (more info here) and the businesses who leverage this new media first will create new competitive advantages and ultimately position themselves as indispensable to the customers and communities that they serve.