Pave the Way with Authenticity
Following the success of our From the Experts webinar series, we wanted to provide you with this content through another channel to make it easily accessible and digestible for our audience.
Here you will find a summary of our last webinar, “From the Experts: Pave the Way with Authenticity” with Hana Jacover, Director, Demand Generation at MadKudu.
Communicate Authenticity Through Content & Personal Interactions
Let’s level set: authenticity starts from within. It’s something that is either instilled in us from a very young age, or taken away, but in both cases, it’s shaped very early on. Because of this, it’s nearly impossible to entirely separate personal life and work life. Events that happened to us 20 years ago still impact us today and these are really the start of developing our own personal brand.
As Hana Jacover, Director of Demand Generation at MadKudu puts it, “we want to use all of these different versions of ourselves that we have collected and evaluated throughout our lives as fuel, but when we step into a place where it’s not encouraged, it can be difficult. And especially in B2B where we are taught that we have to ‘play by the rules’,’ we are being stifled.”
Being “best practice” obsessed can be good, but it can also be a downfall. Generally speaking, if you’re doing something differently, it’s likely not going to be considered best practice and therefore not encouraged. You can’t measure everything with best practice and sometimes you have to trust your gut. It’s about taking your own experiences, voice, and values and communicating it in a way that radiates outwards.
Incorporate your Company Values Into Messaging & Communications
Putting the responsibility solely on one specific team in the organization to be authentic won’t work. It has to start with leadership taking a risk and creating a culture that encourages individuals to bring their full selves to work. Think about it as teamwork, but the whole company is acting as a single entity to encourage one another to bring their best, most authentic selves to the workplace.
But what happens if leadership isn’t willing to do this? Well, in some cases it’s better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission. As Hana puts it, “sometimes this is the only way to execute amazingly creative ideas. It’s not to say throw caution to the wind, this is still a very strategic process. But if you feel good about it, and it’s something you are willing to put your name and reputation behind, then you can’t go wrong”.
You have to open yourself up and invite people to come back in. Putting your ego aside and starting this at an individual level allows for collectively developing these values are nurturing the mindset of authenticity. If you’re a leader or a founder you have to really consider the values you want to attach to your company because those are the values that you’re asking your employees to align with.
Leverage Employees for a More Authentic Approach to Marketing
We can look at an organization as having three main pillars, all trying to work together to bridge gaps: the people pillar, the processor pillar, and the technology pillar. And as Hana states “I 100% believe that the people pillar is the key to an organization’s success, and we have to start there because we’re all human and we need to make sure that pillar is solid and foundational”.
So how do we make this pillar stronger? It’s important to think about how you’re investing in your employees in terms of time, resources, and empathy. As Colin Day, Managing Director, EMEA, and APAC at Oktopost puts it, “everyone is a brand ambassador these days. If you have your company name attached to your LinkedIn profile, you’re already advertising your brand, but none of us are properly trained in how to communicate through social media even though we’re doing it day in and day out. Some of these skills can’t be taught, but as an organization, we need to be mindful of how we encourage and support our employees to be able to speak about the brand.”
While some organizations and industries are still fearful of this approach, you have to find a way to push that fear aside or shift your mindset and look at it as fuel instead of what’s holding you back. It’s pretty amazing to see it happen when leaders say “I trust you”, and it’s a trend that we are seeing more and more. Leaders who are willing to take on the responsibility and create these environments are bound to be more successful.
Take a Customer First Approach
Building a relationship with your customers is the best way to open yourselves up, be a bit more vulnerable, and also encourage them to be more vulnerable. When you’re in that space, you receive the most valuable feedback. This helps you to understand ‘is how we’re expressing what we do meeting the customer’s needs?’
All of this really boils down to a powerful Customer Success team. The stronger the success team, the more trust is built as they are the lifeline to the organization. They’re the first to hear about anything, be it positive and negative, and it’s their responsibility to share that knowledge with the entire organization so everyone is aligned. The alignment isn’t just between sales and marketing anymore, but also between customer success and the product. This helps to really understand why people use your product, why they buy your product, and once we know the facts, we can deliver a really authentic message.
The ‘team’ we all think we’re a part of is actually the wider organization. In order to get the message out externally, we need to all join forces internally to make sure our core values and messaging are aligned. We all have the same goals in mind which is the success of the company and promoting authenticity company-wide and as a collective team is the best approach to get the message across.