The great thing about being a solopreneur, startup, or tech worker? Is that people expect you to be interesting.
Sure, when you walk into some big chain store like Flim Flortons or LOL-Mart, every person there is a faceless cog in a much larger machine, completely replaceable at any point – a commodity. They all look the same, talk the same, act the same. Because they have to. Because that’s corporate policy. Because with a company that large, uniformity is the only way to ensure a consistent brand experience.
(It’s not ideal, but for large corporations, it works.)
But when you’re an independent professional with no boss holding your leash and no HR department threatening to fire you for speaking your mind, you can pretty much do whatever the heck you want. You can talk to clients using folksy aphorisms that make you sound like you’re some southern hayseed without losing their respect. You can end sales conversations with interjections like “Awesome possum!” or “Totes!” and still be taken seriously. You can work with Netflix on in the background and not be called a slacker. You can have a serious & intelligent conversation with a client while drinking your coffee out of a vibrant, colourful novelty mug. (I know because I’ve done all four.)
In other words, you can be free.
If you’re not careful, though, your personality might put off the people you’re trying to attract. It might make you seem unprofessional.
Here’s how you can walk the line between personality and professional in a way that prompts clients to start begging to work with you.
Prove That Know Your Industry Inside and Out
Here’s the deal, Jessica Biel: Ain’t nobody gonna work with someone who has no clue what they’re talking about. And if you come across to prospects as not only amateurish but also unprofessional, you’re gonna have a bad time.
But once you’ve established your expertise – once you’ve proven to prospects that you know more about your industry than they do – you become valuable to them. Sharing your qualifications, testimonials, past successful projects, articles you’ve written for industry publications, etc is a great way to prove your expertise and get clients to trust you.
Sharing is Caring; Over-Sharing is Asking for Trouble
When you’re a solopreneur or startup owner, you’re inevitably going to have to start competing with the big guys at some point – and when you do, the easiest way to beat them at their own game? Is to create a real, human connection with prospects. People like to see that they’re dealing with an actual human being, someone they can relate to. Someone who understands. And by sharing certain details about your life – experiences that we all have – you can show off your human side and create trust.
The caveat? Nobody likes an over-sharer. Potential clients don’t want to hear about how your son Billy got suspended from school or about how you got into a fight with your significant other about where to go on vacation this year. Some things are private.
The key is to share experiences that your prospects can identify with – universal experiences. Experiences that somehow relate to what it is you’re selling or illustrate challenges your target market is facing right now. Experiences like running into pushy credit card salespeople at the airport, or waiting in line at the bank. Sharing these experiences proves that you’re human without revealing any information about your own personal life, because they’re experiences that we all have.
Showing off your personality in your business isn’t easy, but when you do it right, you can boost your sales, win prospects’ loyalty, and set yourself apart from your competition.
Visit http://brandgesture.ca for more simple tips and tricks to give your marketing a boost.
Bland to Brand is written by Mike Straus, a copywriter, journalist, marketing genius, walking pun factory, and long time co+Lab community member. Each post is part of a larger series to help YOU and YOUR small business succeed in a landscape that is becoming more and more saturated every day. Like what you’re reading? Find out more about Mike and his work at Brand Gesture.