JUST BE YOURSELF (SERIOUSLY)
As it turns out, those makeover movies you watched as a teen were onto something -- only the prize here is a growing business instead of a date to the prom. Pam Slim, a Mesa, Arizona-based small business coach, is asked constantly about how business owners can make their brands “appear” more authentic. “The best way to appear more authentic, is to actually be authentic,” she says. “That means real clarity on who you are and what you’re about and showing that you understand what challenges your customers face. You have to maintain that consistency.” It may sound simple, but creating a brand and a business that resonates with people is a deliberate practice that requires as much listening as it does action. That means doing things like personally engaging with customers on social media if they reach out, or explaining to customers directly why you’re making a change to your product.
Jostes compares those blustery companies that are inundating your Twitter feed to an annoying party guest. If he’s constantly telling you about how great his company is or what a great deal you can get by working with him and signing a deal right there, right then, would you really want to talk to him for any longer than is absolutely necessary? Of course not! “In fact,” Jostes adds, “you’d likely try to avoid him for the rest of the party -- sort of like when people unfollow, unlike, or even ‘hide’ posts on social media.” Instead, she suggests that business owners concentrate on identifying significant topics that are of interest to potential customers. Resist the urge to insert your business into every trending topic. If you’re selling in-ground swimming pools, you probably shouldn’t be posting about #vanlife.
Authenticity is also about building a relationship with customers that’s long-lasting and resilient, an old-school approach that is taking on new importance in the digital age. That means being hands-on with new clients and making them feel like they’re really connecting with the business, not that they’re just another number in a spreadsheet. As Strauss says, “You have to built a rapport with your customers and sell a good product at a fair price. Those things will never change.”