Question: What’s the best way to make people dislike you based on your content?
OK, let’s imagine three hypothetical content creators. Stan, Chuck, and Chaz. All produce content on the same topic (it’s hypothetical so you pick the topic).
- Stan is knowledgeable but boring. His content is useful, but it can be a bit of a slog to read it.
- Chuck is less knowledgeable than Stan but very entertaining. He is an engaging writer with a great sense of humor. While his articles aren’t very insightful, they are entertaining enough to be worth a read.
- Chaz produces well-researched content that is highly insightful but also borders on clickbait. His titles are designed to attract attention and most times the content does not deliver on the title’s promise even though the information contained is well-researched. He also is prone to exaggeration and some of his purported “true stories” are suspect.
So, which one do you dislike the most?
I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that Chaz wins that award for most of you, even though his content is the most useful.
But why do we dislike Chaz despite his usefulness?
Simple. He’s inauthentic. When we see Chaz’s content, we don’t know whether to trust what he’s telling us. Chaz is smart but being straight with his audience isn’t a priority for him. If you were to do business with Chaz, you would not know whether to trust what he was saying or not.
When it comes to all aspects of your business, solopreneurs that can connect with their audience and customers are more successful. And to connect with people, they need to trust you, which requires authenticity.
I could spend a few paragraphs trying to explain to you why you should be authentic, but I won’t. Instead, I’m going to talk about how to be authentic. Some of this should be extremely obvious. But we all have blind spots.
Let's start with marketing.
How To Be Authentic In Marketing As A Solopreneur
- Know your audience: Understand who you're marketing to and what their needs and values are. This one can be challenging for new solopreneurs. You may come to your one-person business with a skill honed from a job at a big company. Your target market may be very different than the people you served at your job. Solution: Talk to as many people as you can, in-person, virtually, on social media, etc. Learn what they care about.
- Showcase your brand’s personality: Highlight the unique personality and qualities that set your brand apart. It’s so important to position your business and your brand in a way that resonates and then put that out there.
- Tell real stories: Use storytelling to showcase real experiences relevant to your business. Don’t pretend that made-up stories are real. Make it clear you are making it up as an example (see Stan, Chuck, and Chaz above).
- Be transparent: Don’t make false or exaggerated claims and be open about your products, services, and business practices. If anything, under-promise and over-deliver. I once knew a guy (I really did, his name was Bob) who was pretty talented but he would promise so much that even when he did amazing things, it was a letdown to the people he worked with.
- Try to use real images and videos: It’s best to show the real people and experiences behind your brand, instead of stock photos or generic imagery. This can be really hard for solopreneurs, but one strategy is to find stock imagery that looks real and matches your brand. This can take some ferreting through the stock photo sites, though there are some diamonds buried in there and it’s worth the effort.
- Be consistent: Ensure that your marketing messages and brand personality are consistent across all channels. You can’t be all things to all people. If I’m presenting an environmentally conscious persona to people on Facebook and an upscale “the world is my oyster” persona on TikTok, no one will trust me.
- Encourage customer feedback: Encourage and respond to customer feedback to show that you value their opinions and experiences. As a solopreneur, it’s especially important that they see you as a real person.
How to Be Authentic In Business Practices
- Be transparent: Shoot straight with everyone, whether it’s with customers, suppliers, or others.
- Lead by example: Walk the walk of your professed values.
- Embrace your unique qualities: Highlight the qualities that make you unique. And if you can’t fix it, feature it. So, if you are excessively chatty, have fun with that. If you fill the room up with your personality, be that person. If you are professorial, don’t hide it.
- Stay true to your values and your focus: Winning a deal that doesn’t match your business may feel like a quick win, but in the long run, it will be a loss. Don’t exaggerate to win deals. Focus on the deals that work for you and your business and you won’t have to lie.
- Invest in relationships: Build strong and genuine relationships with your customers and business partners.
Being authentic isn’t always easy. Between imposter syndrome and financial stress, the temptation to bend the truth about us, our business, or our knowledge is ever-present. But if you remember that being authentic is the best way to build a thriving business, you can stay true to yourself, sleep better at night, and build strong relationships with the people around you.
Need other helpful tips to help ease your journey as a solopreneur? Be sure to check out The Solopreneur Success Cycle!