I was doing a Live video on Facebook, in a closed group, giving my viewers a tour of my video set (aka my office). I was uncomfortable because I wasn’t finished building my set – and because I hadn’t had a chance to do much cleaning. I’d squirreled some things away behind the closet door, but time had run out so I went Live and did my best to only show the areas I’d managed to organize.
After my Live session, one replay viewer commented that she was looking forward to doing a tour of her set as well, but first needed to “tidy up.” I responded with humor, saying that I hadn’t gotten a chance to do that myself, so was just strategic about not showing the floor or my desk.
A ripple effect ensued. Another viewer chimed in, saying that now she didn’t feel so bad because her set was cluttered as well. Then another person went Live from her studio, showing us around and making a point of showing us her “hot mess” — a tangle of wires on her desk that she hadn’t had time to clean up.
In due time, the first viewer who said she needed to “tidy up” actually went Live, laughing as she gave us a sneak peek at where she’d tucked all the excess items that had been laying around. She let us in just a little bit more than she would have if we hadn’t had that previous conversation.
What does authenticity do?
As this experience shows, authenticity can create a wonderful, safe space between people. Though we were speaking from many different geographic locations — Massachusetts, New Jersey, Hawaii, and the UK — we created for ourselves a space where it was ok to be less tidy… to be imperfect and to go Live on Facebook anyways.
As each of us showed up authentically, talking about what we felt was our mess, it resonated with someone else who then stepped up to do the same. We each realized that we weren’t the only ones struggling with this challenge, and we became more comfortable sharing what we saw as our own personal messes. What seemed at first to be a risk turned instead into an experience that connected us.
The Benefits to Being Authentic in Your Marketing
How does this relate to marketing? Authenticity is about building a relationship. Everyone in this story is a business owner with something to sell. Before you sell, you first need to connect. Start by building an authentic relationship and generating trust.
Let’s take a closer look:
- Connect to your audience.
When you are real in both your actions and your words, you can create a beautiful connection between you and your audience. It makes you approachable so that if what you are saying resonates with them, they can feel comfortable responding.
- Show your audience that they can trust you.
Marketing is about building trust. And one of the fastest ways to build trust is to be authentic. Just be real… be you.In the exchange I describe above, when one of the participants expressed her need to “tidy up,” I could have let that go. I could have let her continue to believe that I had cleaned up, and let that conversation pass on by.Instead, I met her in an uncomfortable place by admitting that I had only shuffled some things around. This authentic moment served as a gateway for others in the group to share similar concerns. When their openness was rewarded with humor and commiseration, the seeds of our friendship – and trust - were planted.Trust is earned over time. Repeated and consistent authenticity generates ongoing trust between you and your audience.
- Create a sense of closeness.
A sense of closeness is extremely valuable in this virtual world when we are geographically distant.I’m virtually connected to people who are located across the world from me, and I feel close to them because we connect — not just online, but emotionally. We are real with each other, so we feel very close together which makes it easy to connect, even through technology.Authenticity creates a connection and a level of trust that fosters an unparalleled sense of closeness, even if we are geographically distant. This closeness invites greater authenticity, which in turn amplifies the connection and trust.
- Authenticity invites authenticity.
When you are authentic in your marketing, it invites others to be authentic in return. You create a space where people feel safe to be their real selves. For example, one person’s admission on Live video to having an untidy workspace led to others openly sharing their own messes which would typically be a source of embarrassment — but were instead validated as normal in the presence of imperfection.The thing is, you can’t be authentic in a vacuum — by definition, it is a shared experience.It’s hard to be the only person who’s being authentic in a conversation. It’s uncomfortable — even scary — but someone has to begin.In your marketing, when you step up and choose to share your authentic self, you establish a space where it is safe for others to be authentic. When they meet you there, participants feel safe, welcome, and closer to you. You have begun to build a community – one where everyone benefits.
- Authenticity builds community.
Creating a community of people that you can be your authentic self with is one of the most powerful things you can do for your marketing.This is where you will gain the most momentum in your marketing — especially with your ideal clients. This is the golden ticket because the return-on-investment is high.A community filled with authentic members builds more than trust or connection… it builds loyalty. And with loyalty, you create the opportunity for long-term and repeat business with happy clients that you enjoy working with.If, in your marketing, you are looking to connect with people who want and need what you offer, building a community is essential.Create a community that’s filled with people who want and need what you have to offer. Make it a space where people can be their authentic selves; where they can talk about things they have in common – which includes you and how you’ve helped each of them succeed – and you create a self-generating marketing machine.
Authenticity begins with you.
Authenticity is contagious. When you are authentic in your marketing, you create a space where, in return, your ideal clients feel safe to be authentic. They will connect with you and with each other. If you have any doubt about that, just picture a group of women from across the globe taking turns spontaneously going Live online to share their embarrassingly untidy office spaces.