You hear a lot about “authenticity” these days — what it is, why it’s important, how to demonstrate it, etc. — but all too often those explanations are long on abstract concepts and short on actionable details.
A recent report by Cohn & Wolfe, on the other hand, offers an approach that’s so simple and straightforward that anyone who remembers the 3 Rs of elementary school — readin’, ‘ritin’, and ‘rithmetic’ — should be able to employ it.
If you want to connect with aesthetic consumers, you need to embrace the 3 Rs of authenticity:
- Be real
- Be reliable
- Be respectful
Are you for real?
According to the report, consumers believe a company is real when it communicates honestly, acts with integrity, and is genuine, not artificial. For example, when you’re talking with potential patients, are you honest about what’s attainable and what isn’t? When participating in online Q&As, do you address their needs and concerns or promote your services? And does your before & after gallery showcase unattainable perfection or a variety of outcomes, including ones that aren’t as good (something potential patients value highly)? Embracing such strategies sends signals that you are, indeed, authentically real.
Are you reliable?
Reliability is primarily about the delivery of products and services, which, according to the report, comprises two separate attributes: High quality and delivering on promises. For aesthetic practices, high quality is presumably a given, but patient-centric practices back it up with online reviews, industry honors, and other forms of social proof. Delivering on promises encompasses medical outcomes, as well, but also incorporates non-care, customer-service factors — doing what you say you will, so to speak — such as providing empathetic support and consistent communication throughout the patient journey.
Are you respectful?
Consumers believe a company is respectful, says the report, when they “treat customers well” and “protect customer privacy and data.” Given the intense competition and unique challenges of aesthetic medicine, this takes on added significance as patients have more options than ever and often have qualms about sharing their experiences publicly. Being respectful of patients’ time — offering online scheduling, not keeping them waiting, etc. — can help with the former; encouraging them to communicate on their terms can underscore the latter.
Ultimately, being authentic is about being open and honest. And while you’d be hard-pressed to find a business that doesn’t consider itself as such, the fact remains that consumers remain unconvinced. In fact, citing what it calls an “authenticity deficit,” the report notes that 78% of consumers do not think brands are open and honest.
The good news is that most consumers — 88%, according to the report — will support brands that they believe to be authentic. They will, for example, value the brand (48%), remain loyal to it (49%), and, perhaps most important for aesthetic practices, recommend it to others (52%).
As Cohn & Wolfe CEO Donna Imperato, puts it,
The rules of communication have irrevocably changed, and we’re seeing consumers reward brands that understand how to engage with them openly and honestly.
In other words, delivering on the 3 Rs of authenticity provides a fourth: Return on investment.