“Content is king” is a term marketers have used for years, because content is what’s helped drive customer engagement. However, content that’s sterile and lacks depth, meaning and truth remains just that — content. Now, add the word authentic in front of content and correlate that to B2B brand storytelling and you can begin to imagine the possibilities for businesses who get this right. It’s time to overthrow average same-as-everyone-else content with the coronation of authentic content.
There are many different methods for brands to display authentic content. Doing away with the staged, tight-lipped executive, glossy headshot and high production corporate video is a fundamental first step and sets the tone for everything else to follow. After all, how does a buttoned-up corporate image help build a customer connection when the personalities behind the brand are being compressed?
At a recent Metro Atlanta Chamber event, I witnessed Alex Taylor, President & CEO of Cox Enterprises, sit in front of a packed room of executives with an open collar shirt and a welcoming smile. His first few words were “Ask me anything, as there’s nothing I won’t try to answer.” And he did just that. The content he shared was open, honest, and was delivered with emotion. The others in the room couldn't help but warm to this highly successful, nice human being. So much so, that I’ve spent countless hours after that event reading up about Cox Enterprises and Alex Taylor, because he established a connection with me. His authentic approach worked and is a stark contrast to the old days of corporate America, where any event — roundtable, town hall — would’ve required countless rounds of scripted Q&A and been more fact-focused than open ended and qualitative.
I have no doubt that there are many businesses — particularly publicly traded companies — that wouldn’t adhere to this less formal conversation style, but the companies that are building their position for future long-term growth realize that stodgy, no comment, inauthentic mannerism don’t fly any more. After all, isn’t that why we all love or hate Elon Musk, because he shares emotion during an interview and openly provides his opinions on Twitter. We’re able to forge an opinion of him because he’s authentic, and many would argue that it works for him and his companies.
Brands that want to seal a dominant position for years to come and win the hearts and minds of Millennials and Gen Zers know that a more authentic, open and honest demeanor is what will help build a human connection and ultimately drive shareholder value.
So, how can you create more authentic corporate content?
Dig deep and discover your brand’s DNA. What values is the brand built on? What’s its “why?” What does it care about? This inner thinking will allow you to uncover the sentiment, emotion, tone and then carry it through to your content through words and visuals.
Develop content that looks and sounds like your brand. Take your theme and thread it into everything you create. It will help the brand stand apart from the competition and be consistently identifiable.
Get your executives out there speaking and forging their own connections. Encourage them to use human language by dropping the corporate jargon and counsel them to express challenges and opportunities and take people on their journey of entrepreneurship.
Use more video. This allows viewers to look into the eyes of your executive team and sense their passion and excitement.
When you tie authenticity with content, brands can break through the digital clutter to create human connections. “Hail to the authentic content.”
Sarah Tourville is CEO of Media Frenzy Global.