Authenticity is something everybody strives for on the internet. The quality of being real or genuine is what sets apart the businesses made with passion and personal truth, from the soulless money-making websites which nobody uses.
Authenticity is also strangely illusive.
And while there have been countless
articles written about the concept, we believe there is a very specific manner to achieve authenticity in presenting your sports business or team online.
Whether you learn how to tell a story about your organization or try to make the fans feel good by valuing their importance, there’s always something you can do to get that all-important “authenticity” rating up.
What Do We Mean by “Authenticity” in Business?
Before you can start to make your business more authentic, you must first understand what it means to be “authentic” in the business world.
In recent times, there’s a growing feeling that many businesses are veering on the mechanic, and merely looking for a way to turn anything into a profit. The decline in authenticity and traditional communities has led consumers to feel disillusioned and at times, cheated, by big business.
A lack of authenticity is especially dangerous in online marketing campaigns — consumers are adept at smelling, and in turn avoiding, inauthentic behavior, even if it’s hiding under a veneer. (The recent Pepsi ad is a good example of an inauthentic marketing campaign
Authenticity is seen as the genuine desire to make a valuable contribution to your industry, community, and audience. That's it. It's a simple as intending to do well and contribute to your audiences well being.
Why is that so hard?
If you’re working in sports, there’s a pretty high chance that you’ve got genuine desire at the heart of your business anyway. But, make sure that your customers know about the human struggle behind your team or about your evolving relationship with sports as a whole.
You want your customers to relate to your business — to connect with its struggles and achievements.
This comes down to A) communication and B) execution — don’t forget to make your business story tangible and accessible through content marketing, visual, videos etc.
How to Be Authentic in 6 Steps
If you’re looking for a way to reflect your authenticity to your customers, then take a look over this list for a few pointers:
- Engagement: One of the easiest way to show that you are an authentic business is by making it as easy as possible for your customers to interact with you. Share blog posts about your team or sport and let customers leave comments, then reply to these comments. Are you on social media? Reply to customer comments there too. People really appreciate the opportunity to interact with a business outside of a direct sales-based context and it helps build a positive customer-brand relationship.
- Content: Whether it’s a nice detailed team history page that lets customers know the history of your team, or a blog full of insightful reports on the latest games, you should be writing content. Not only will this help you to seem more authentic, but it will be good for SEO too! If writing isn’t your forte, hire a freelancer to write the gripping story of your business evolution.
- Expert Knowledge: If you’re running a business, then you’re probably going to be privy to information which the average fan is not. People go nuts for insider information, so why not share everything you know? You could start a video series, or start to interview industry experts on your blog. This will help build up your personal and business brand as a source for credible information.
- Inspire: When a sports team wins a big match, it’s not just a victory for the team, but for the hundreds and thousands of fans who supported them. By highlighting the importance of fan contribution and encouraging people to practice and cultivate their own skills, you’ll inspire your customers. You might want to read the earlier blog post about coaches inspiring their teams for some more ideas on how it’s done.
- Be Official: If you’re the head of a local team and are selling your merchandise online, then you’re the official retailer; if you sponsor an event, then you’re an official sponsor. Letting people know that you’re official will definitely increase the chances of people of buying from you — it builds trust, confidence, and legitimacy. (Just look at how many businesses and stores tout their official status like a badge of honor).
- Good Web Design: No matter which industry you work in, if you’ve got a website which doesn’t look good, your customers won’t be happy. If you’re just running a small, local sports team, you may not have the money to hire a professional web designer, but there are plenty of themes and templates that can get you 99% of the way there. An authentic and legitimate online presence must be founded in a good website, active social profiles, and preferably an online blog. These days there are many affordable solutions out there for web design, from templated ecommerce builders to WordPress themes you can customize to suit both business and news sites— (here are some of the best WordPress sports themes). If you are at the helm of a big sports organization and its website, make sure you invest time in updating and improving the website, focusing on speed, usability and user value proposition.
Why it Matters
Whatever it is that you’re selling online, you can bet that there’ll be half a dozen other websites selling the same thing… and that’s if you’ve not got much competition.
The internet has provided an easy way for lots of people to start a business, but it’s only those who make the effort who will succeed. With so many out to make a quick buck, you’ve got to prove that this is something you really care about and want to invest time into.
The main thing to take away from all this, is that the feeling of authenticity comes from the customer experience. You need to offer something of substance, you need your website to be easy to use, and you need to be easy to reach.
If you can provide your customers with these three things, you’re on the way to running a successful website. Keep your passion for sports at the heart of your business and customers are sure to see and respect that.
Tell Us: What are you going to do to provide your customers with an authentic experience?
Patrick Foster is a full time sports fan with ten years’ worth of ecommerce industry experience. Isn’t it great when two worlds collide? Always good to share insights to help smaller businesses get off the ground.