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
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.