At Pepperlane, we’ve supported thousands of moms as they create businesses on their own terms. While we know that there’s no silver bullet or secret sauce, there is one thing every successful business owner has in common... authenticity!
We aren’t claiming that Pepperlane invented the idea that “authenticity is good for business.” You’ll see that message coming from every marketing-focused brand on Instagram. Our goal with this article is to explain why authenticity is important, and to provide you with ideas for how to create a more authentic voice for your business.
Why is it important?
Before COVID-19, we would have said connection is important, but now we know that it is EVERYTHING. These days we yearn for connection so much we are looking for it in the businesses with which we interact. And you can’t engage with a person or brand that is impersonal and cold. You can feel a genuine affinity towards a person or brand that is real and honest.
Pepperlane Leader and Business Coach Jessica Miller said it well:
“I believe that people can’t find you and you can’t find your people unless you show up as who you are.”
The logic works like this: A potential customer wants to get a sense for who you are: what you are passionate about, what makes you frustrated, what problems you like to solve and how. If they feel drawn to that vision of you— either because it is a mirror of themselves, or they feel you have something they lack—they are much more likely to buy from you. Authenticity will bring you customers.
How do you achieve the right level of authenticity?
We’ve explained the power of authenticity, but please know we are not suggesting you tell your deepest darkest secrets on your website. You can be professional and real at the same time. How this looks is as unique as you are...that’s the whole point of authenticity! To find the tone and topics that are right for your business, here is a helpful framework that our Director of Marketing, Anna Ballard, recommends.
Imagine three different conversations where the topic is what you did this weekend. The first is with a colleague, the second is with a new neighbor and the last is with your best friend. Here is how each conversation might go:
- With your colleague: Focuses on an interesting article you read
- With your new neighbor: Focuses on the new restaurant in town you tried
- With your best friend: Focuses on how you didn’t shower once, that your kid threw a fit in the restaurant, and that you got a stomach ache from eating too much cheese
Are all these conversations authentic? Yup. Would you talk about your dairy-induced tummy troubles with your colleague? Unlikely.
The next step is to think about who best represents your ideal customer and your relationship with them. Are they represented by your colleague, your new neighbor, or your best friend. Your tone and topics will be drastically different for each one but they can all be authentic.
Pepperlaner and childbirth educator, Justine Leach is a great example of how to authentically share, with boundaries. Justine’s business was founded as a result of her own story around trauma and the birthing process. She is open about her personal experiences as they relate to the service she offers, but is more thoughtful about what she shares about her kids. For her, this means being vulnerable about her birthing experience, but not sharing other parenting struggles like potty training. She asks herself, “Would my children be proud of me for speaking the truth, and would my ideal clients resonate with this message?” And with that filter, she chooses if something should be shared.
Does authentic mean sharing about my personal life?
It doesn’t have to be. For example, if you are a consultant and your ideal customer is represented by “your colleague” then it might not feel right to share any details about your personal life in your marketing materials.
So how do you achieve authenticity when your field is traditionally professional? You tell the truth. You are up front about how you like to work with clients and the level of success you can help them achieve.
Pepperlane Leader and strategic planner, Jennifer Zwiebel, realized that being fully honest about herself and her successes played a huge role in helping her clients see bigger results. “Putting myself out there, as is (no larger than life promises, just the truth), has been empowering. Even when it seemed counterintuitive to some of the business minds out there, including my own! By being vulnerable and honest about my own story, I have been able to create safe spaces that are free of judgment for my clients.”
The Bottom Line
Don’t underestimate the power of authenticity to drive success in your business. When you bring your unique, true self—with tone and topics that respects target audience—you will begin to attract more and more of the customers you want.