3 Ways Being Who You Are Attracts Better Customers

by on 05/22/2009 • 25 Comments | Online Marketing

I learned a few things about myself yesterday. I mean, I had a hunch about some of them, but it was nice to get the official judgment from the Internet. Here’s the final vote:

  • My writing sucks.
  • I’m not funny.
  • I’m a snob.
  • I don’t understand social media.
  • I’m what’s wrong with social media.
  • My Twitter account reeks of such ineptitude that it makes people not want to do business with Outspoken Media.
  • I smell.

Damn, Internet. If only I hadn’t heard all that before.

The constructive critique was handed to me via a nice blog commenter named Robert. And while I realize that “Robert” is not a real person, the point made is valid. I am not going to be everyone’s favorite. Outspoken Media will not be everyone’s cup of tea. And you know what? Neither are you and your company. And that’s entirely okay. In fact, it’s required if you want to be great.

What another pretend commenter called “arrogant”, I call authentic. I’m not arrogant, even if I do keep making appearances on TweetingTooHard (a site I find hilariously awesome, even though it’s apparently an “insult”). I’m just not afraid to be me, nor do I feel the need to make apologies for that. I’ve always believed that when you’re brazen enough to be who you are on the Internet, whether you’re a person or a company, you come away with a lot more than you lose.

You Develop a Story

Marketing is storytelling. It’s giving people something to associate your brand with. I’m known for being emo on Twitter and hard on the blog. Outspoken Media is known as the loud new kid on the SEO block. Whether you like us or hate us, you know the story. You’re starting to associate something with our name, for good or bad.

Your story is your point of difference in the marketplace. It’s who you are and what you’re brave enough to reveal. Without it, you’re just another boring face in an already crowded niche. You’re forgettable. Your company should not be forgettable. Your company has a unique story and perspective on things, and people should know that. And the only way they’ll get to know it is if you preach it and are authentic about it. Think Zappos. Dell. Comcast. The strongest stories are the ones that grow around who we really are. Be known for something. Even if it’s reeking of “ineptitude” and “snobbery”. If that’s who you are, embrace the crap out of that.

You Attract the Right People

Very simply, being who you are qualifies your sales leads. If you’re offended by my Twitter account, I know one thing immediately – we’re not the service provider for you. And it’s not because I’m a bitch. It’s because if you’re offended by me, I don’t ever want to put you on the phone with Rae. Someone could get hurt.

When you lay your cards out on the table and show people who you are and how you do things, you attract the right people to your business. The people who should know about you and can benefit from you. The people who naturally “fit” what you do.

I giggle each day when a new batch of leads comes in because they look different than the ones I’m used to. People talk to us differently. They talk to us like they’re asking a trusted friend for help and advice. I love that. I love that they feel like they already know us through the Web and that the relationship is already there. We have the best clients in the world and we have them because they came to us knowing what we do, how we do it and they decided before they even contact us that it’s exactly what they wanted.

If you bleach your online story, you’re not going to get that. Instead, you’ll be investing a lot of time in leads that aren’t a good fit because people simply don’t know who you are. The more of “you” that you put out there, the more like-minded people you’ll attract.

You’ll Become a Happier Person

Happy child

Remember how miserable high school was when you had to bite your tongue, pretend you were into music you hated and were made to feel like an outcast? Why would you put your company through that? Doing things on your terms allows you to have more fun with your work. You’ll be more excited about it. You’ll take more risks. And you’ll naturally create more buzz about what you’re doing. That’s how businesses become great. When you’re not just opening up doors you didn’t know existed, but you’re also breaking through second story windows, too.

I know that not everyone is a fan of the Outspoken blog. But some people are. And some people have commented that my blogging seems more “empowered” or “confident” in this new home. And really all that means is people are feeling more of “me” in my blogging. The voice is more authentic, it’s more real and it’s maybe a bit more raw.

People want to do business with companies they know, trust and who have similar value systems. Be honest about who you are. Don’t hide it.  And yes, that means that you’re going to turn off people. Because not everyone will believe what you do or carry themselves the same way. And that’s okay. I’d rather have a smaller, more passionate group of clients and readers than a large fan base who doesn’t know me and who just sticks around because we don’t cause waves. The passionately engaged are far more valuable to your company. They’ll be more loyal, more vocal supporters.

A lot of companies feel like they need to be vanilla in order to be successful. They need to be as attractive as they can to as many different types of people as they can. I couldn’t disagree more. You need to find YOUR people and become THEIR everything. When you strive to be everyone’s favorite, you excite no one. I know that I’m not everyone’s favorite. I recognize that, I accept it and I’m okay with it. You need to be okay with it too and to stop letting the Roberts of the Internet or your fear of being “unliked” make you back away from that.

Taking a stand and showing who you are won’t make you lose clients.  Not taking one and being invisible will.

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About the Author

Lisa Barone

Lisa Barone co-founded Outspoken Media in 2009 and served as Chief Branding Officer until April 2012.

Get social with Lisa at Twitter

25 thoughts on “3 Ways Being Who You Are Attracts Better Customers

  1. Wow! Awesome post! Here’s a question:

    How do you craft your story that stays true to yourself, with out risking your privacy? In other words, how do you be your self in social media with out mixing your personal world with the professional? Or does that matter?

  2. And it’s not because I’m a bitch. It’s because if you’re offended by me, I don’t ever want to put you on the phone with Rae. Someone could get hurt.

    I think that was the best bit of the whole post. It’s hilarious because it’s true. And it’s true because some people take themselves far too seriously to even be able to handle working with you three ladies who can actually find joy in your work.

  3. I started off laughing my butt off, but then I thought to myself, dang, she is totally on point. Even a business is not going to be liked by everyone no matter how hard you try. I agree, stay with your core values and the rest will fall into place!

  4. What? Authentic self expression in business?

    It’s called “finding your voice”.

    Or maybe you need to change the name of the company to

    Softspoken Media

    hahaha

  5. Alas if only there were more companies such as you described. I’d even settle for companies that identified themselves as such and actually followed through rather than caving when a big brand waving a checkbook came along. I hope Outspoken Media passes that test… if it hasn’t already :-)

  6. Well said. At the end of the day, who gets the traffic, links, and eventually business – the people out there putting themselves on the line and being heard, or the people who leave passive-aggressive, anonymous comments on their blogs? Seems like the math on that one is pretty clear.

  7. I think if you go out there trying to do direct sales to whoever follows you is a big mistake. By being yourself, caring and sharing, you can build your brand and reputation over a period of time. The whole ethos of the www is sharing and expecting nothing in return. The www has democratised education and handed opportunities on a plate to anybody with a PC and a modem. Stop the marketing and start engaging with people. That’s what it’s about for me. Rgds Vince

  8. Thank you so much for writing this. I am starting a new Internet marketing company after being laid off from my last position and it is very difficult. I am not “PC”. My old company used to describe me as “rough around the edges”. And my clients loved it!! My clients knew they would never get bullshit from me, if I didn’t think something was a good idea I would tell them that. Also, if I thought they were wasting their money on something, I would tell them that too.

    Now, I have *helpful* people telling me that I have to become more of a salesperson and have less personality. But my personality is who I am! I have strengths and weaknesses. I’m struggling with one of my weaknesses now – responses to RFPs. I can spit it all out – I just can’t make it sound pretty.

    I like being me and if people don’t like me, then they can take a long walk off a short pier. Why would I want a client who wants me to change? I’d rather go to work at McDonald’s. Well, maybe not McDonald’s but definitely work with people who understand me and let me be me. I really enjoy reading what you have to say!!

  9. Love the post – and it’s true…I am so glad I don’t have to try to please “everyone”…as long as my clients are happy and I am staying true to me – “everyone” wins!

  10. Lisa,

    Just want you to know that this post should be mandatory reading for anyone in social media. Dead on point, very clear, concise, AND Authentic which is what SM is all about. Show up and find a great community of incredible individuals whom know, like, trust, and love living life, doing business, and sharing this huge game and journey together. So salute to you this holiday weekend my friend and keep up the incredible transparency and contribution!

    Create your amazing day!

    Andrew
    http://AndrewWindham.com

  11. Just discovered that site. It is an Absolute Crack Up. There are some real classic pieces on there from some interesting souls.ROFL… I would not take it to heart.

  12. There’s nothing more frustrating than working for a company that takes on every client regardless of their goals, their perspective, their expectations or their focus. Believe me, I know. You can’t please everyone all the time. Companies that attempt to be everything to everyone fail their clients and their employees alike.

    For every stuffy, SOP-driven company out there looking for a “smoke-blowing”, “make it sound pretty”, “give me colorful reports I don’t understand” SEO firm, there are plenty of other companies that appreciate a straightforward and no bullshit approach to Internet marketing.

    Companies like Outspoken Media are made for the latter. If a “cookie-cutter”, “we have no personality so we don’t offend anyone” SEO firm is what you’re looking for, there are plenty of those out there, too. You just better hope none of your competitors hire a company like Outspoken.

    I’ve always said this of people who don’t like me: not liking me saves me the trouble of investing enough time to realize we have nothing in common, wouldn’t work or play well together and have completely different approaches to business and life. Thank you for saving me the time. :)

  13. “being who you are qualifies your sales leads” That is so true, and a definite wake-up call for me. I hate it when I make the mistake of working with someone I know has a totally different mindset on how to run their business or do their marketing or whatever. So when I work with these guys in order to “make them happy” or to “get the sale” I change the way I deal with them. Then after working with them I realize how big of a mistake it was and how I made myself miserable and dreaded working on their project. Anyway I defiantly enjoy working alot more with clients that like me for me, trust me, respect me and my work, I want clients that are knocking down my door in order to have me work with them. Next time a potential client asks me why they should use me or whatever, because of this post I’m gonna say “uhhh cause I’m awesome.” :) Great read!

  14. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    My Twitter friend @tlockemy emailed me this post this morning and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I don’t have the thickest skin in the blogosphere, that’s for darn sure, but you’re right…better to be disliked by some than “meh” to everyone.

    This is a post I will come back to again and again…and will recommend it to others who deal with the “Roberts” of the interwebs.

  15. @Alysson,

    Agreed. It’s definitely not a good idea to try to be all things to all people. There has got to be a good SEO/Client fit for the relationship to be successful.

  16. This may possibly be my favorite post ever. It’s impossible to be everything to everyone- you’re almost guaranteed to fail that way. If you’re authentic, and completely honest about who you are and what you stand for, as a brand or an individual, you’ll be a success to the people that matter.

  17. Once again, I agree with everything you have said. I certainly share the opinion that this post should be a must read for ANYONE entering into the Social Media realm. Its tough for most to accept that some will like you and others wont, and only the strong can move forward from that. Keep up the great work ladies, your posts are not only entertaining, but also educational.

  18. Wait. You gotta blog comment from someone about how you smell? I got one about how fat and ugly I am. How striking to use blogs to leave critical comments on our physical-ness. So I say bravo Lisa! Only the scummy, fat, gross and pathetic of us are truly kicking ass and creating successful businesses.

  19. they told us at teacher training (cause i teach pilates for rehab) that twenty five percent of people would hate us, fifty would be indifferent and twenty five would love us; and that we might as well work on the twenty five that would love us and go from there. that may be the best advice i ever got.

    the more me i am the better my clients get. in fact i rarely get a jerk who makes it past the phone interview :)

    if i ever need a web presence boost? i’ll hire someone like you because you won’t try to fill my head with expensive bullshit that i don’t need and you won’t assume my ideas are bad just because they aren’t yours.

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