True NorthMaybe it’s my nature – or maybe it’s a function of being a marketer for 25+ years, but my hype-filter is always on. With hundreds of marketing messages coming my way daily across multiple channels, it’s hard to break through at all, never mind without compelling me to toss a B-S flag. Authenticity, it seems, is the key to my heart – and head.

So, what’s it mean to be authentic? Defined as “worthy of trust, reliance, or belief; genuine, credible.” Good start. It also speaks to what matters to me, not just what’s on the company’s mind. (Ok, at least lead with me.) It sounds and feels natural and honest – and not like it’s trying to “blow one by me.”

Authenticity should be one of those critical qualities you cultivate in your marketing. And there are any number of ways that being authentic can play out.

  • It’s all about them. Customer stories can be a powerful way to help prospective clients understand what kind of partner you’d make in helping them solve their issues. Hearing the real-world experience of people like me can be a huge factor as I’m trying to winnow down my options. But that story should be their story from the start; brand is a key but supporting player. Too often the voice I hear is 90% company, 10% customer. Let the customer’s voice be primary – not just a lone quote, press release style.


  • Paint me a picture. Show me who’s talking. Videos can be awesome. But even if you can’t always spring for video, share great photos of the client, their colleagues, their facilities. Give me a very real sense of the context for the brand’s products. Think photo essays. Remember, the majority of folks consider themselves visual learners and those visuals can boost engagement around that content exponentially.
  • Consumer spotlightLet them say it their way. We’ve been giving customers ways to share their own take, their own content for years on social and community channels. According to a recent Hubspot post, “studies show consumers still trust user generated content more than all other forms of media.” Unfiltered and in their own words – doesn’t get much more authentic than that. If you can let go of the reins a bit, there’s some serious upside.
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  • Your true voice. That same principle applies when you think about your employees’ voices. Who better to represent what a brand is really like than its own people? Take the #ESPN approach to giving prospective employees a unique view into What It’s Like at this sports news mecca. Current staff share their views – literally through instagram stories on Life in Bristol and beyond.

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When the brand ‘speaks’ through its content, does it sound uniquely you?

Cheryl Treleaven

Cheryl Treleaven


Engaging your customers is at the heart of successful marketing programs. For more than 20 years, Cheryl has been building and executing content and thought leadership strategies designed to do just that. She is excited to be applying that well-honed skill to a help companies like Microsoft, Cisco, 3M, Intel, Capital One and Barclaycard tap into their stakeholder communities and build sophisticated content strategies.

Her experience base spans a range of industries – from technology and financial services to retail, travel, consumer products and healthcare. Cheryl has served as an integral member of her clients’ marketing teams, providing counsel on marketing and brand strategy, thought leadership, media relations, product introductions, and event management.

Prior to joining ComBlu, Cheryl spent 10 years leading corporate marketing for large, complex organizations.