This is a topic that has been bubbling away under the surface for about a year now for me and it’s about time I shared it with you.
It’s something I talk about with my clients, when I mentoring start-ups at Nottingham Trent University and when I’m giving lectures.
The ability to be vulnerable and for you to be able to embrace your vulnerabilities is going to be pivotal to you being able to market yourself on social media and grabbing success with both hands.
And if you're wondering what the picture is - it's me with my head shaved just before I started 6 months chemotherapy with my baby - probably the most vulnerable I've ever been in my life.
Firstly, I want to put my hands up and say that I’m not the first (or the last) person to talk about vulnerability.
I first really started thinking about it in a business context after watching the fabulous Ted talk by Brene Brown.
If you haven’t watched it, you should:
I watched this Ted talk and then mulled it over for a while. And then it struck me.
You need to be vulnerable in business.
Not just in making decisions, choosing new products, entering new markets, putting your prices up and being able to fail (they’re all topics for future blog posts).
But you need to be vulnerable when marketing yourself, and especially on social media.
Now I like to think that I’m a special kind of coach. Not only do I support people with their online marketing, I help people with their mindset – how they think about themselves and their business.
And I often work with people who are scared or uncomfortable with putting themselves out there, with making themselves an ambassador for their brand. For saying loud and clear to the world this is what I do, this is who I help and this is how I can help you.
· Do you ever question if you should be visible to your clients?
· Do you have an image of yourself on your website?
· Do you let people into your personal life, so they get to know a little more about you?
When you’re not comfortable with these things, you brain may have a little bit of fun with you, saying:
· Who do you think you are saying or doing that?
· What will your friends say?
· Why would anyone be interested in me?
And here’s the honest truth
People buy from people, they love, know and trust.
Marketers used to say like, know and trust, but more recently we’re seeing a trend towards the love. To buy your products, and buy them again, people need to fall in love with you.
And how will your potential customer love, know and trust you if you’re not visible, if you’re not there, if you’re not telling your story, if you’re not sharing how you can help them?
You and everyone else aren’t just buying products anymore, you’re buying experiences, things that say something about you, your values and the person you want to be.
Your customers are the same.
So the more you can put yourself front and center in your marketing the more your customer will get to know you.
By removing yourself from your brand and ‘letting the products or services speak for themselves’, the more you are losing your point of difference, your USP, your you’ness.
Now I’m assuming you’re aren’t reading this running a multi-national corporation with a massive team, so you can hide behind a brand personality.
If your business is you (and maybe a couple of staff) you are the brand personality.
And when I’m rooting around your website, or checking out your Instagram I expect to be able to find a little bit of you in there. A little bit of your story.
I want to understand why you’re so passionate about underwear, coaching, kitchens or healthy food.
I want to feel why I need to get behind you, why I should invest in you and give you my hard-earned cash.
And yet we come back to vulnerability. To be able to put yourself front and center you need to allow yourself to be vulnerable. To put yourself out there.
Here’s a story. You will know about my brand ‘debbiedooodah’. Perhaps you’ve been getting these blogs post for a while, or you’ve been on my mini-course, you’ve poked around my website and seen my social media, maybe we’ve even worked 121 together.
I think you’d agree that I’m pretty out there as far as my brand is concerned. My Instagram is full of me pulling funny faces and there are big photographs of me on my website.
It wasn’t always like that. For the first 3 years of my self-employment career, I run the social media agency Heard Media. Now if you look at that website, you’ll see that I’m not really that prominent. It’s not really about me at all, I have a team and although you can find me, it’s not really that obvious.
When I first started that business I wanted to be debbiedooodah, but I thought that sounded silly and I wasn’t ready. I didn’t allow myself to be vulnerable. I didn’t think anyone would be interested.
And although we got good contracts with the city council and the National Trust, we weren’t making amazing money; something wasn’t quite working.
After 3 years my confidence caught up with me and I went full debbiedooodah.
My income almost doubled. I was able to blog with authenticity because I was speaking from the heart and people started to share my stuff and talk about me.
People were interested. No-one said who does she think she is (and if they thought it, they never said it). People wanted to work with me because they could connect with me. It worked.
Now I’m telling you this story because I want you to know it took me 3 years to step out and be vulnerable. I’ve been there, but I don’t want the journey to be as long for you.
So, take a look at your business. Ask yourself, are you allowing your customers in? Are you giving them enough so they know, like and trust you? Can they believe in you?
If you want your business to be a success, you need to let people in, you need to be vulnerable. You’ve already come this far with your business. You’ve already taken the gigantic terrifying leap to starting your own business. Most people don’t even do that.
Now is the time to shine. Be vulnerable. Take a chance. Let people in.