The more virtual our lives get, it seems the more we cry out for something genuine. What customers really want now is not just a product or a service – it’s a brand they can believe in. We all know that people buy people, so now, more than ever before, businesses must be more honest and transparent – more human, more authentic – to succeed.
As a small business owner, your online branding represents you, and vice versa. Each needs to reinforce and be in alignment with the other, so that when people meet you, they see a genuine, authentic fit.
But how DO you ensure that your online branding – your website, your social media content, ALL of your online interaction – reflects who you really are? Here are my top 5 tips:
Visualise REAL people
It can be easy to forget, when communicating from behind the remote safety of a computer – that our words will be reaching out to and impacting upon REAL people. Visualising your audience as a crowd of flesh-and-blood people, all looking at you and listening to what you have to say, can help to peel away any pretence or flippancy and produce content that is open, accessible and meaningful.
Share your opinions
Being authentic doesn’t mean you have to share everything about you online, but the more you can the easier it is for people to ‘connect’ with you. Acknowledging and expressing how you really think and feel about what you’re writing about on your business platforms will give weight and energy to your content. We all have opinions, and your followers are interested in hearing what you really feel about matters that are important to them. Put your heart into your content and your words will resonate with your audience.
Accept that you’re human, not perfect
Yes you want to establish yourself as an expert in your field, but no-one is perfect and it’s ok to not have all the answers. Customers will quickly sense if you try to bluff your way through or fob them off. Being honest and brave enough to acknowledge what you do and don’t know will build trust and respect. The most important thing is to LISTEN properly, make sure you understand what is being asked and, if you can’t immediately resolve the problem or answer the question, say so and resolve to come back to them when you have found out.
You don’t have to pretend to know everything to build authority. Your passion and commitment for what you do, reinforced by consistency and hard work, will develop your reputation and encourage a loyal following that has confidence in what you do.
Is a really noisy place out with lots of information and free stuff available! Make sure you are offering your online audience and potential audience bags of value. think about them specifically and ask yourself what is it they need and want from you! Create relevant content and freebies that they can use to help them! This will all help to connect them to you and your busines.
Ask for what you want
We all know that relentlessly pursuing a hard- sell approach on social media will damage your credibility. Constantly pitching your services or products without any real engagement or two-way communication will generate resistance from your audience and simply put prospects off.
BUT, you don’t need to hide that you want to promote your business and earn money: that is, after all, what you’re there for! So, steer clear of the hard-sell, but have the courage to ask for what you need. Being direct and up-front about wanting a customer to review a product, read your blog, or sign up for your new online course will open people up to taking action and buying from you.
Use Video and Live
Video and live video is an engaging, persuasive and incredibly powerful marketing tool that enables you to convey authenticity like never before.
Through video and live video you can make a memorable, human connection with your viewers, demonstrating that you’re a real person, not just another faceless online operation. Being able to relate to viewers on an emotional level can increase reach, credibility, and business. So rock up and get recording!
The need for “authentic” marketing really boils down to this: people want to connect with people, not with personas and brands. So let your face be seen and your voice be heard. Your online branding is promoting your business which is an extension of YOU, so make sure that the real you is in there, shining through it all!