When was the last time you saw an ad for something, and actually decided to buy it? If you’re anything like me, the answer is probably “never”. This is unsurprising. It’s not the 1990’s anymore, after all. The world has changed since, but the way we build and run businesses hasn’t necessarily caught up with reality. In the new era of social media, traditional marketing is dead. People have a natural aversion to being sold to by faceless, impersonal brands that are just hanging out on social media to make a profit. People are inundated with information, and traditional marketing doesn’t establish trust, or authenticity. Business owners have to find new ways to give their brand a human face, to capture the attention of social media users and win their trust.
Pens and jackets
Some business owners believe branding is a simple matter of pasting a logo and vision statement on a website and related promotional items. I’m no different and love a pen or (even better) jacket with my logo. Those are great for internal use with your team and customers. But those items won’t do much for you to reach a new audience and build your tribe. To give someone a free pen you have to know them already, after all. To give them a free jacket you probably know them pretty well. Don’t overlook your employees and customers though – these are the people that have already bought in to your brand and are your most powerful advocates.
The best ideas for reaching people is to turn things upside down. Everything popular is wrong. Trying to compete for attention on Facebook and not getting any traction with your marketing? Look elsewhere. Try something new. Too many companies are still using social media as if they were broadcasting a television ad to millions. They think by just being on social media they added digital twist to their marketing strategy and call it a day. Think again. New times require an entirely different approach to getting your message out there.
Humanizing your message
Your priority on social media should be to make your marketing message more human. That starts with a better understanding of who you are, what defines your business and how well you combine the two. Secondly, prospective customers look for the immediacy in the information that allows them to connect with you. In the first place, it’s not about you. It’s also not about marketing or trying to sell anything. The immediacy check is about whether what you share applies to your audience. Only when you pass that test, the second question is about you. People are looking to connect with other people. Think faces, not logos, representing brands. As a person, can build enough trust so they believe you can help them? Once you do, the rest simply doesn’t matter.
“When you are able to maintain your own highest standards of integrity – regardless of what others may do –you are destined for greatness” ~ Napoleon Hill
By forgetting about the ‘what we do or sell’ and focusing on the ‘who are we anyway’, prospective customers will connect with us on a more personal level. That connection may ultimately result in a paying customer who is emotionally connected to you and your brand. If you can’t clearly articulate what values you hold as an individual and what you seek to accomplish as a business – then how can you expect to convince your customers about the very things that should make you unique? If you are trying to set yourself aside from the crowd, then the individuals you engage with through your marketing efforts are more concerned about your trustworthiness than they may be with the product you are pitching.
Building a relationship
The reason so many marketing attempts fail is due to a lack of trust. If the business can create a sense of trust in the potential customer, the level of trustworthiness will translate into the level of acceptance of the information, products or services the business owner presents. The effect is indirect, and the more indirect you can make it the better.
When ordering some commodity in bulk having a personal connection with who makes the item is not as important as when looking for a business coach, your next good book, an online course, or even your next favourite resort to vacation at. Regardless, it’s important to understand what to expect from your audience (and what they expect from you), so you can see exactly where you and your company fit in while building that relationship and increasing the level of trust.
Let your business growth take place organically through the immediacy of information you share to create a trusted connection. This is why some of the worst looking marketing campaigns and websites still do well: nobody cares about the design as much as they do about the content of the story that you share. People like connecting with people. No marketing campaign in the world can match the power of a story. Everyone has a personal brand, whether you like it or not. And it can work for you if you take care of it and build it, or against you if you don’t. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an entrepreneur, stay-at-home-mom (or dad) or full-time employee, or something in between.
If social media had a purpose it is to connect with other people – not brands and companies. I’ve been unfollowing most of the latter from my newsfeeds lately. You need to have a real name, a human profile picture and something meaningful to say… so let’s change the story we tell about ourselves and use it to connect with those around us better. Speak about what matters. In every conversation, online or offline, someone has to go first: you be it.
“Your dreams don’t have to be big – but they have to be yours.” Gary V.
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