Why being genuine, transparent, and authentic with your prospects will simplify your marketing and get you better clients.
My older son just turned 4. I try to read to him every night, and one of his favorite stories is Pete the Cat: Too Cool for School.
In the story Pete the Cat wants to look cool, but he doesn’t know what he should wear. He asks his friends, parents, and teachers for help. Everyone tells him to wear what they think is his coolest piece of clothing.
Pete puts on all of the clothes he’s told to, but he doesn’t feel quite right. So instead he decides to change into his favorite t-shirt, his favorite pants, and his favorite socks and shoes. Once he does, he truly becomes “too cool for school.” The moral of the story is (and I’m quoting a book for 4-year-olds here) “If you want to be cool, just be you!”
I’ve read a lot of children’s books over the past several years, and it’s funny how many of them are actually quite profound. But Pete is onto something here. If you want to be cool and make friends, the best way to do it is by being yourself.
Unfortunately, it’s often easier said than done.
How to be real
On of my personal goals this year is to “be me.” I spent some time figuring out exactly what that meant to me, and here’s what I came up with:
Embrace who you are
Your unique personality is not only your greatest asset, it’s one of the primary reasons why people like you in the first place. Stop second guessing yourself and let your personality shine! Love yourself in spite of your imperfections and insecurities (and remember that everyone else has them too).
Pretending to be someone you’re not is awkward, stressful, and usually doesn’t end well. People can smell your fakeness from a mile away and it smells like bad BO. And let’s say for a minute that someone actually likes the smell of BO, do you really want to have to be that smelly BO person for the tenure of your relationship?
Be honest with yourself and with others. Nobody is an expert at everything. It’s ok to say “I don’t know, but I will do some research and get back to you.” People actually love to hear that.
Have a voice
Stop trying to please everybody with your middle-of-the-road answers! Your unique opinion has value, and people want to know what you really think. When you speak your mind, you speak with conviction and people are attracted to that.
It takes courage to put yourself out there for the world to judge. You’re making yourself vulnerable and exposing yourself to criticism, but believe it or not, most people will respect you for your audacity and secretly wish they had the guts to do it too.
Sometimes being real takes thick skin. Some people may not like you. But so what?! You know what they’re probably going to do? Ignore you. And one or two few vocal haters? They aren’t people that you would ever want to associate with anyway.
Remember that the most successful individuals in this world have both supporters and detractors. If you’re going to give a damn, put that energy towards the people who actually like you because those are the ones who will turn into important contacts or clients.
Why be real?
I believe that being real will help you market yourself more effectively than any other persona or cheesy marketing schtick. I also believe it will help you develop better relationships with the clients you already have.
Here’s what I personally hope to accomplish through being real:
As noted above, faking it sucks! Being your true self is freeing, and the peace of mind it provides a wonderful feeling, both personally and professionally.
Mistakes matter less
When you’re wrong about something, you have the power to own your mistake, fix it, and use it as a learning experience to grow from. And I’ve found that when I do that people generally don’t mind that the mistake even happened in the first place.
If you’re comfortable with who you are, you’ll will be more confident. And everyone knows, confidence sells. People also say confidence is sexy, so there’s that too.
By being real, you become more approachable. People will relate to you because they see themselves in what you’re saying, and suddenly everyone wants to get to know you. These people trust you, and trust is the foundation of all great relationships.
More (and better) clients
When you’re being real, you will sell yourself more effectively because it will come naturally instead of feeling tense or forced. But even better, you will attract the right kind of clients. Clients who value you for the same reasons you value yourself. Clients who “get you” and trust in your expertise.
How to make your website real
My wife, Daniella, recently joined my business and as part of that change we created an entirely new website. It was important to us that our new site be a candid reflection of ourselves, our work, and our values.
Our website will forever be a work in progress, but here’s our plan for making it as real as possible:
Include photos and videos of yourself
The simple confirmation that you you are in fact a real person generates a sense of trust with your audience that would have otherwise been filled with mystery. When prospects can see what you look like and hear your voice, you begin forming a relationship with them even though you haven’t actually met.
Let your personality shine through with your choice of words
Make the writing on your website a vibrant reflection of who you are. Do you say “awesome” a lot? I do, and I use it in my professional writing much to Daniella’s chagrin.
Speak directly to your audience
Pretend like your website is a one-on-one conversation between yourself and a prospective client. Use “I” and write in the first person to speak directly to that prospect who you are trying to reach.
Share your personal knowledge
Share your unique expertise in the form of helpful, informative articles on your website. This kind of content not only validates your professionalism – it also helps your prospects get a sense of who you are and what you value. This allows prospects to better self-select whether or not they are a good fit for working with you.
Include a phone number
Most of the time, phones are answered by real humans. Including your phone number makes you look like a real, approachable human. It’s also just good business sense if you want people to actually hire you.
Make yourself available on social media
Your social media channels can give prospects a more candid look at who you are, and balance out the more professional side of you portrayed on your website. Social media can even be a medium through which prospects connect with you if you’re active on it.
Testimonials are great because they let your clients do the work of confirming your “realness” for you. For many prospects, hearing a past client talk about your character and expertise will resonate even better than you doing it yourself.
Let’s get real
Does the “real you” come through on your website, or are you wearing someone else’s favorite clothes?
If your website doesn’t effectively communicate who you are and what you believe in, we can help get your prospects to love you for all of the right reasons. Let’s get the conversation started.