Authenticity is the Next Celebrity

When you run your own business, you either have to have a very large head (to wear lots of different ‘job’ hats) or very broad shoulders (to carry the responsibilities)… or both.

And if you were also green, that’d make you a famous superhero, but as I’m guessing you’re not, I’ll just imagine you as someone who looks a little like me.

You’re very passionate about the ‘now’ and always on the look out for the ‘what’s next?’. Right?

We’re living in a very cluttered marketplace right now. The influx of social media and the growth within the SMB space has meant that many are making decisions for their businesses in response to the fear of being left out and the potential that their businesses could drop off and disappear.

In my research, there is a proliferation of articles and events created to discuss the best ways to promote your businesses. Indeed, in my last post, I passionately advised readers to ensure that what they did was personal to their customers and clients and not the typical confetti methods that diluted the passion so crucial to the success of your business.

Whatever steps you choose to take, make them wisely, since it takes a lot of commitment, passionSouthern Trains' Managers out getting feedback from commuters, and vision to ensure that you are doing it for the right reasons. Don’t be another one contributing to the ‘noise’, and ensure that what you project out there is compelling for others to connect with you.

Seth Godin points out in ‘Flipping the Funnel’ that:

“Most of the people in the world are not your donors. They haven’t heard of you, actually. And while many of these people are not qualified buyers or aren’t interested in supporting your organization, many of them might—if they only knew you existed, if they could only be persuaded that your offering is worth investing time and energy and passion and money into.”

But, if you are always publishing other people’s work or famous quotes more than you talk about who you are, what you do, and what you stand for then don’t be too surprised if you get overlooked for someone else.

So what happens when you put yourself out there and something goes wrong? You can’t turn yourself on and off to suit yourself when it comes to public promotion. When you’re a corporation like Nestle or BP and your shiny glossy image is shattered in seconds due to a bunch of decisions someone in the operations team decided to make, you have to be prepared to accept to receive feedback. It’s just that this time around, it isn’t going to be pretty.

Take Nestle for example, earlier this year, a Greenpeace report accused Nestle of importing palm oil from suppliers who are destroying the Indonesian rainforests that are home to endangered orang-utans. In addition, after releasing a meant-to-shock Facebook and YouTube campaign, Nestle was forced to sit up and listen and respond to nearly 1.5 million viewings, over 200,000 emails, hundreds of phone calls, and countless Facebook comments. It was clear that Nestle had to address the problems with the palm oil and paper products it bought.

And whilst Nestle’s Facebook fan page is a little less heated of late, it was only just a few months ago when the company was faced with the challenge of how to deal with their social media backlash.

The challenge for organisations and individuals alike is how they recover from difficult and sensitive situations which are now out in the public domain. Once it’s out there, it’s not easy to take it back. If you open up multiple channels of communication, you’d better have control over them so that you can manage them appropriately.

Not everyone is going to like what you say, and if you’re saying it just to be the popular guy/gal, then you’re on a losing battle. Authenticity is the next celebrity.

We all remember from school how we split out into groups and cliques because we had more things in common with them than others. Just because we’re older, doesn’t mean we shake those habits off.

As Seth points out:

“Turn strangers into friends.

Turn friends into donors.

And then… do the most important job:

Turn your donors into fundraisers.”

So be honest, be yourself. You can speak to the world and you’ll be far more effective by strengthening bonds with those who you can better connect with.

And if you stumble occasionally, all you need to do is admit your mistakes and learn from them.

At least you didn’t come out with this campaign…

A bold statement from Microsoft at their World Partner Conference in 2006






Further reading:

Seth Godin’s ‘Flipping the Funnel’

Susanne Dansey is the Managing Director of Purple Cow Ideas Management – an organisation that facilitates a paradigm shift in the collaborative nature of the ICT Industry. You can follow her on Twitter and join the conversation on Facebook.



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