Okay, let’s get this out of the way:
1. Pop tart
2. Work in progress
3. Being “authentic” in your marketing doesn’t have to mean telling the world your secrets.
If I had a digital strategy FAQ, this question would top the list:
Do I have to bare my soul in order to sell?
In other words:
If I want to build an online business, do I have to take pictures of all my meals and turn fights with my husband into optimistic blog posts?
Does creating an “authentic” brand mean treating Facebook Live like a Real World confessional and taking a selfie stick with me into childbirth?
Short answer? No.
Your “brand story” doesn’t have to be a gritty tell-all.
Somewhere between Open Diary and WordPress, when the personal blog became a business tool, “authenticity” and “vulnerability” became marketing buzzwords synonymous with, well, telling your secrets to get more sales.
It’s a damn shame because they are (were?) powerful words.
But, used together, this combo tricks us into thinking that being “authentic” in business should feel like an episode of Naked and Afraid. Don’t worry if it feels scary, sleazy, or simply unnatural. Vulnerability is good for SEO. Vulnerability goes viral.
The secret about secrets is that building an “authentic” business, writing “authentic” content, crafting an “authentic” brand do not depend on your ability to monetize the skeletons in your closet.
Whether your ideal clients perceive you or your brand to be “authentic” or not depends on how well you know and understand them – not how many personal details they know about you.
That’s the “authentic” business stuff we so seldom talk about – creating genuine, real, bona fide, true ways to improve our clients’ lives.
When you know your ideal client well – their story, their challenges, their goals, their sense of humor, their likes and dislikes, and so on – you can create an authentic bond with them based on your authentic understanding of their needs and your authentic solutions to their problems.
Vulnerability itself isn’t the end game. Being genuinely – authentically – of service is.
This doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t divulge details about your personal life to your audience. Our personal experiences are bridges to understanding and relating to other people. That’s why the gritty, tell-all approach to storytelling can be so powerful. Done well, our stories act as mirrors, helping others see themselves more clearly.
But, before you go penning your memoirs and hoping it makes you a quick buck, I recommend starting with your client’s story first. (Scroll to the bottom of You Don’t Want Marie Forleo’s Website for some handy questions to kick off this process.)