Let me explain.
There's a traditional view of the marketing and sales disciplines, in which we're perceived as outspoken, pushy people who speak in buzzwords and jargon all the time. And there are people like that - but as a marketing technique, it will flop. Gone are the days when knocking on someone's door with a vacuum cleaner to demo and telling them all about how great it is would end with a happy customer and cash in your pocket.
Nowadays, customers are savvy to sales techniques and even a simple "how are you today?" is enough to turn people off. So there's really only one way to conduct business, run a marketing or sales campaign, and win new clients.
Recent research by Bonfire Marketing found that honesty about products and services offered had more influence over consumer purchase decisions than product utility, brand appeal and brand popularity, with 91% of consumers rating it the most important aspect. I would argue that brand appeal and popularity are probably dependent on honesty themselves - but the principle is the same: to grow your business effectively, you need be honest, genuine, authentic.
But is authenticity just another one of those marketing buzzwords? I don't think so. Let's have a look at what authenticity actually is (according to Oxford Dictionaries):
Authentic: Of undisputed origin and not a copy; genuine.
based on facts; accurate and reliable.
So as marketers we have no choice but to be authentic. Tell the truth. Honesty and integrity makes people - and brands - likeable. And consumers are more likely to buy from someone they like. Just have a look at this video on the six principles of persuasion - and the difference being able to make a connection with someone makes to the ability to come to an agreement during negotiation:
Last week I went to a great event on innovation - the Digital Annexe University - and authenticity came up over and over again. Sean Singleton summed it up perfectly in his talk on the seven habits of highly effective digital marketers (for organisations): "Be human and be good".
So to sum it all up - nowadays people are wise to sales gimmicks and pushy messaging focused on your product or service. They check out reviews, speak to their friends, find out everything they can about your business before setting foot in the door. To get them to buy from you, you need to first gain their trust. And the only way to do that: Be authentic.