Content Marketing That Feels And Sounds Authentic

As you can imagine writing in an authentic way is something many business owners struggle with.  It’s also one of their greatest fears when it comes to passing on the responsibility of blogging or social media management to someone else as their role expands and their time is in greater demand.  They don’t want to lose the “mojo” of their posts or feel like they are cheating and giving less to their fans.  

We totally get that.  After all, as a business owner this business isn’t just 4 walls, it’s your pride and joy.  It’s the place you have giving all your attention, energy and tears to build.  No one will care about your business as much as you do because no one has invested as much as you.  Whether or not you’re considering hiring out your content development to others, being more authentic in the way you communicate to the world is something you can do right now. If you are confused on what content marketing is it would probably be best if you started out here to learn all about what it is.

To create in an authentic voice you must do the following things:

  • Have a deep understanding of who you are reaching

  • Be connected with the “why” or your brand and it’s values

  • Have a consistent tone

  • Be mindful of inclusive verb tense (I, we, you, us)

  • Tell personal or historical stories


Have a deep understanding of who you are reaching

To illustrate this difference I’ll have to use two different brands that I think most of you are familiar with, Nike and GAP.

Their similarities are, in my prospective, as follows:

  • Same age ranges

  • Economic status

  • Clothing products

  • All sexes and ethnicity (though I think GAP to be more caucasian leaning and Nike more african-american)

They have a lot of differences as well

  • One caters to achievement other to just looking nice

  • Focus on athletic wear as opposed to polos

  • Nike’s look is more edgy.  GAP more bright and cheerful

GAP for the most part has fizzled out but they both understand what their customers want.  Their message communicates to the deep desires of their customers.  GAP appeals to more of the classic american look that’s more preppy and plain.  For people who want to look stylish but not really stand out.  One might call it a “dad” store.  (sorry guys)

One (Nike) desperately wants to succeed and be an achiever and they believe that Nike is the clothing people who achieve wear.  They believe that by wearing those clothes they become a part of that group. 

When you begin to target customer you’ll need to know their:

  • Economic situation

  • Their social status

  • What their pain points are

  • What they desperately desire

  • Where they shop

  • Who they go to for advice

Some of these will be easy to figure out with something as simple as a Google search.  Others may come with either purchased demographic information or calling other places that serve your ideal customer that are not in competition with you where they can give you insight on their customers habits.  

Content marketing is a delicate art in sharing the information in a way that speaks to the customers needs in a tactful, subtle way.  Any message that speaks to a customer in a way that doesn’t resonate with them might be called “un-authentic” and could harm the rapport of your fans.

No matter the approach you’ll want to start with a strategy on how to use this authentic content.


Be connected to the “why” of your business and it’s values

The “why” of your business is quite the buzzword these days but for good reason.  As the opportunities to make money expand online and off-line the amount of people who can start businesses around their passion grows exponentially.  However, just because you have something you enjoy doing doesn’t mean you are connected with the reason why you do it or why others would want to be included in it.  

Notice how many “whys” were in that last sentence?  All those are things you must understand deeply and be able to communicate to your potential or current customers.  

Maybe you’re a brewer because you love beer.  Awesome.  But that’s not a “why”.  Lots of people like beer and would probably want to try making it out of simple curiosity.  Your “why” could be that you love sharing things with others.  Since you make the best beer in town you want to be able to share that with them in a location that makes them feel comfortable and happy.  Maybe it’s that your dad and his dad and his dad have brewed beer in bourbon casks from Italy and beer brewing runs in your veins.  When people drink your beer they are participating and becoming part of something historic.  

I think a simple exercise is to try to explain your “why” to someone you know and see if they are able to explain it to a friend of theirs.  If they don’t want to maybe your why isn’t compelling enough.  If they can’t articulate it maybe your “why” isn’t clear or specific enough.


Have a consistent tone

I believe this is what throws most bloggers for a loop and what makes small business owners so unwilling delegate content writing to others.  The tone of your content could be looked at much like the “personality” or your content.  Is it sarcastic?  Is it informative?  Is it funny or serious? 

Most of the time a small business owner will be writing in either their own style or the one they think their customer is expecting.  (a sarcastic tone from an accident lawyer might seem just slightly out of place)  However, when you’re looking to scale your business chances are that writing blog posts will be one of the first few things that you will hire out.  It will be important for you to articulate the tone of your writing and have someone who understands that.  

If you’re still in the stage of business or simply don’t want to pass on the writing it will be important to stay consistent with your writing.  You won’t want to be funny one day and snarky the next.


Be mindful of inclusive verb tense (I, we, you, us)

You have probably watched many videos online whether it was a live stream or a recording where people are addressing someone in their audience.  Sometimes people will say “you guys” or “hey everyone” or something to that effect.  While it sounds inclusive what it really does is make it sounds like they aren’t addressing you specifically.  You’re just another person in the crowd when it is said like that.  

I’ll be honest that I struggle with that.  I will often say “hello small business owner” when addressing people on Instagram stories for example.  While that is less inclusive and personal sounding it is because I want to be clear who I’m talking to.  

With that being said, I make sure, much like this article tense, that I am indeed speaking to you.  I want you to know the things I have prepared to share and the lessons I’ve learned I’m sharing with you for your success.  That is my intention and I want to make sure my writing reflects that.  It should be the same when you write, shoot video content, or communicate in any other format. 


Tell personal or historical stories

People have gathered around campfires, the office water tank, or a kitchen table to hear stories.  Stories about how people’s days went, something crazy that happened to them as a kid, and things they have heard other people share.  

You and I have also been around when someone who is sooooo boring tells a story and it just totally misses the punch.  It’s painful.  Telling stories is something you learn to perfect over time.  You have to!  All great communication revolves around telling interesting stories because, quite frankly, there is too much noise online to pay attention to something uninteresting.  

Make sure your stories are relatable, emotional, entertaining, and honest.  It’s really really hard to not get sucked into those kinds of stories.  I have a friend named Joel and whenever he tells a story you just know it’s going to be good.  He is very charismatic and energetic and that energy just envelopes you and immediately whatever he’s up to you want to be a part of.  

Take that same energy to the videos you make.  Take it to the words you write on your website or a comment.  Energy transfers from person to person to make sure the stories and the way in which you tell them are worth remembering and sharing.  

Often I hear about someone who has been sharing online for a while, their feeling stuck, and then they will share something personal going on in their life and it goes viral.  Why is that?  Because for the first time they have told a personal story instead of just shared facts.  They finally gave their audience something in which to connect with them.  

Now some people end up taking it too far and sharing personal things that should only really be shared with close friends but you can certainly take the concept and learn to share a tough day or relationship with a client that was strained and came around.  People will connect with those stories because it’s a real visreral story that is a part of their experience with life as well.  You take things from concept to relational and that’s very powerful.

In wrapping up we all want to have an authentic way to communicate.  While it can seem challenging to do that I challenge you to go through this several times and learn how to tell the story of yourself, your company, and the experiences you’ve had along your journey as an entrepreneur and business owner and humanize them.  This will improve not only your communication with others but it can create a great start in crafting a consistent message that another agency or blogger can take and run with.  

Best luck to you!

-Steven Burkhart