It came to me in a flash today, possibly the best marketing advice I’ve ever heard: Be who you say you are. Tell your story, and tell it truly.
So many slick presentations out there. So many big talkers. They’ve got books and websites and blogs and fancy Powerpoint presentations. They’ll look you in the eye and quote an amazing statistic with a made-up citation and convince you that you need their $299 webinar. And it’s not just the consultants and sales people. It’s the big companies and the politicians too. They’ll sell you the moon with a beautifully designed website and a series of Facebook ads–get thinner without dieting, get prettier without surgery, look cooler than anybody else on the block with one simple purchase.
It makes my head spin sometimes. Everybody’s spinning. And then I get to wondering what the heck I’m doing with my life–I know what people think of marketing. I know what some companies expect from marketing. They WANT the spin. They want to look better than they are. They want to wow everyone and take their wallets while their mouths are hanging open. Why am I in this industry?
I’ll tell you why. Because time’s they are a-changing. Gone are the days when a company can make unsubstantiated claims and expect to hide behind a banner of corporate silence. People expect conversation now, consumers and business prospects alike expect transparency, interaction, and relationship. If you are lying, if you are spinning, if you are less than you appear… They will find you out. Facebook, LinkedIn, review sites, and Twitter. Your own website and blog–the truth will out.
Sure, there are still some bastions of corporate spin out there, and plenty of small companies paddling like hell to look like they’re better than they are. They’re out there. But their time is ending. That’s no longer what marketing is about. Marketing now is about the TRUTH. It’s about conversation, engagement, and relationships. The best and only thing your organization can do for genuine long-term growth, is to tell your story, and tell it truly. And then be who you say you are.
Here’s my story: I am a writer. I am a business woman. I am a mom and a friend. I write things that light people up, that get them talking. Talking about you, talking TO you. I am intrepid and I’m creative. I am honest and I am sincere. Passionate and hard-working too. I can see the big picture and I learn new things every day. I am NOT a social media guru, a marketing school graduate, the world’s leading expert on anything except myself and my family, an Internet specialist or a list builder. I’m terrible at logistics and suck at multi-tasking. Technology–meh. I don’t watch television, follow sports, or know what the Kardashians look like. I collaborate with people who do all those things and do them extremely well (except the Kardashians–I don’t know anyone who does the Kardashians). If you need someone to co-create a practical plan, write your blog, get your market engaged, nurture your client list, or develop a practical and effective and HONEST marketing campaign, and you’ve got a budget for it, I’m all over it (unless your company is selling golf balls to Kardashians via TV commercials–in that case, call someone else).
What’s your story? Answer that frankly, in language a 9-year-old can understand, and you’ve got the beginning of a solid marketing message. Be honest. Who are you?