From your about page to video and tone of voice - why being 'you' can help build an authentic, values based relationship with your customers.
Being ‘you’ is a powerful way to build a personal connection with your customers that can lead all the way to the sale. So this article is about how to be more ‘you’ - with a little help from some people who do it particularly well.
Customers like different
Last week I was invited to give a short marketing presentation to foreign business students in Bristol. Talking about website content I was asked “My business idea is brand new and I haven’t got that much experience, what can I cover?” To which I replied “but you’ve got passion right? It’s something you love - so why not talk about you?”
As I said to my student friend - ‘people buy people’, so make ‘you’ your main strength. And this is just as true for many of the smaller businesses and solo consultants I work with. Their personal stories, knowledge and expertise are what’s likely to build that emotional connection between them and their customers. What’s more, it’s probably the thing that makes them different. And in a sea of similarity, customers like different.
But before I talk any more about being you, it's important to recognise that, in the customer’s eyes, it’s really about them. Well, at least at first.
You and their problems
Talking about you can be great for building a deeper customer relationship but they won’t care unless they can see, and pretty quickly too, that you can solve the problem that matters to them.
If they are reading your website, a good way to start is to pose a challenge or problem they’ve been grappling with, or something they aspire to.
On my homepage I do it like this…
“Do you have ambitious plans to grow your business, but not sure of the right marketing decisions to make? Would you like more customers to know about your expertise, but are struggling with what to say?”
Once your customer feels comfortable that you are there to help them, they might want to spend a little more time getting to know you. And that brings me to the about page…
Why your about page matters
I look at many of my clients Google Analytics data as well as my own and, almost without exception, the about page is the most viewed page after the home page - so it deserves your full attention. It really is where they buy ‘you’ or, almost as important, decide you might not be the right fit, saving everyone's time. And this is a perfectly valid outcome too.
So, what makes a good one?
You might be talking about ‘you’, but don’t forget to relate what you say towards your customers and why your experience helps them solve their challenges. Yes, talk about your passion - but, if you are selling a professional service, make it relevant to that. Maybe that collection of Star Trek memorabilia is one to keep to yourself.
Your values are very important, even more so when you are setting up a new business, it’s a chance to build a brand from scratch. There’s no corporate line anymore, being you is your differentiator. Talk about what matters to you and customers who feel the same way will be drawn to you.
On my about page I talk about going ‘from big to small’ - I want to emphasise that although I have big advertising agency experience I now prefer to work as a freelancer so am drawn to those who, like me, have decided that small and independent works best. It’s my nod to the smaller businesses I want to work with.
It's worth giving some thought to photography - not just on your about page but across your site. The picture on my about page was taken by Bristol based photographer, Amanda Thomas. My accountant thinks I should be wearing a tie (that's accountants) but I wanted to be relaxed, approachable and seen in my often frequented Bristol cafes (where many great meetings have taken place). Despite the lack of tie he still hired me to help with his marketing.
An about page that really conveys values, vision and passion (as well as visual brand) is from Bristol creative agency Ralph. Their site is almost as much about the things they care about as it is the work they do. As a result, potential clients can gain a very clear idea about who they are. I think it’s great, take a look:
Being 'you' with video
I’ve not yet embraced the world of video. I’m sure I will - but I’m contemplating the water for now. So, meet Russ Avery - someone who has taken the plunge and does it very well.
I first saw Russ on LinkedIn a couple of months back. He’d started making videos which were, by his own admission, completely DIY and uncut - but even so, I think he's a natural. What they enabled me to do was build a really good picture of what Russ is like, what matters to him and who he wants to work with - before we'd even met. He’s explored some quite personal stuff and has built a huge LinkedIn following.
When I met him in person at the recent Watertight Marketing conference, he was every bit as authentic and likeable as his videos. I felt I already knew him - and he’d managed it on a shoestring and by being very much himself.
Here's the first one I saw, he's made about 10 now I think.
Tone of voice: be even more ‘you’
When we speak on video, our audience can quickly see our personality, body language, humour - many of the things that help build that connection but that aren’t on the written page - or are they? For those of us not using video, the written tone of voice can still build a powerful picture of what we are like.
By being more ‘you’ with your writing, you can give customers a very realistic impression of your personality and what you’d be like to work with. Humour is a great tactic and it’s something done very well by Bristol based employer branding consultancy That Little Agency, run by Mark Beavan.
From his LinkedIn posts through to their website content and proposals, Mark uses a relaxed approach that even extends to tender documents which clients have told him have actually been ‘fun' to read. By injecting humour into his content, he helps create that bridge towards how enjoyable it might also be like to be a client.
Take a look at this article and then checkout the thoughts of Ted the office dog who has his own blog. Really - and he's quite a thinker.
Customers are looking to buy a service, but they are also buying people that they’ll want to work with. Yes, you need to demonstrate the technical skills and experience to deliver but, as in any relationship, it’s that personal connection and likeability that matter most. Once you’ve acknowledged you both understand and can meet their needs, it’s time to be authentic (and often very effective) - simply by being you.
Ben Wheeler is a freelance marketing consultant and content writer working with creative and consultancy businesses. Based in Bristol, he also helps clients produce articles for LinkedIn. www.benwheeler.marketing @realbenwheeler