Have you noticed there’s something missing in most of the marketing messages you see? In a word, it’s …

… authenticity.

We live in a world of carefully crafted and highly polished commercial messages that extol the virtues of a brand, a product, a company or a cause. This is nothing new … up until the advent of social media it was a universally accepted norm. But Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the Millennial generation have changed perceptions and expectations. As a result, this one-dimensional style of delivery can come across as contrived, phony and unbelievable.

That’s true of all media, but especially true of that most trustworthy medium of all: Video.

In his book “The New Marketing Manifesto,” John Grant says that “Authenticity is the benchmark against which all brands are now judged.”

Erin McPherson is chief content officer of Maker Studios, a leading distributor of short form video content. (They’re the guys behind Bad Lip Reading, a YouTube series that pokes fun at what athletes and celebrities are saying.) “The new authority is authenticity,” she says.

Consumers want to see an honest, unvarnished portrayal of what you have to offer them. They want to see the good, the bad and the ugly, and then make a decision on their own.

For someone in marketing, that can be a pretty big paradigm shift.

Here are some ideas to bring a level of authenticity to your next video.

  1. Don’t over promise. Avoid the hype. Rather than making it a sales pitch, think of it as the beginning of an honest conversation.
  2. Bag the TelePrompter. Throw away the script and allow people to put things in their own words. (It’s ok to help them along with talking points though.)
  3. Get real people. Put real employees and customers on camera. You may not need a professional actor.
  4. Admit your mistakes. If you’ve goofed, fess up. Especially if you’ve done something to fix it. People will appreciate your honesty.
  5. Show the back room. Instead of shooting only in your best-looking spaces, take the viewer behind the scenes, to where the work is actually done.
  6. Lose the greenscreen. Put your subjects in a real environment.
  7. Use real photos. People can tell stock photographs a mile away. Show the real thing, even if it’s not as pretty.
  8. Let the kids craft the story. Senior executives, marketing and sales folks may not be the best people to bring authenticity to your message. Often their vision is too myopic. Younger staff members may see the picture more objectively, and may be in a better position to tell your story.
  9. Don’t overproduce. Resist the urge to overproduce your video. No need for that fancy logo build or lower third title. Keep it simple and non-slick.
  10. Have a little fun. It’s ok to inject some personality into your message. Show them you’re a company made up of real human beings who live, laugh and care.

Have some more ideas? I’d love to hear them.

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