A while back here on Y3B I wrote about dressing to impress, which I much later followed up with an article about pretender brands, empty labels, and broken promises (and how they are full of suck). There are many ways we play dress up to make keen first impressions, for better or worse. Here, I’d like for us to explore traditional marketing, dating, and the dangers of misrepresentation. In doing so, I hope to build up a strong case for the authenticity movement and warm connections, where the focus is on people and authentic experiences as opposed to spin or hype (manipulation).
When I blog, there’s usually a trigger or prompt that inspires me to build upon an underlying theme. This is one such scenario. After speaking with my mastermind group superstars, Laurinda Shaver and Julie Nutter, we realized that there are some glaring problems with human interaction as we know it. I’d like to share their perspectives and strategies because they’re things I know we could all work on more.
Laurinda On Rapid Assessments
You have a few seconds to answer the only question that really matters:
What can you do for me (and will you keep your promises)?
What do you lead in with? How do you make it sound interesting yet authentic? Do you sound like a real person or a robot?
(Hurry, the clock is ticking!!)
Providing consistent, concise answers in a hurried world is no easy feat. Laurinda, fortunately, is a master of authentic taglines and video profiles, things that make rapid connections with fickle audiences. She’s made tons of these me-in-a-nutshell content pieces for many people and they’ve gotten great results.
In doing this, Laurinda has become a good judge of character. She can condense a 30-minute chat into a 30-second introduction or elevator pitch. It’s almost scary how well she does it! She also practices what she preaches, which further builds up her credibility as a professional.
Laurinda’s About Page: “A social media creative head who can actually project manage with a dash of true business savvy.”
Last but not least, I recommend reading “You Look Good Baby.. Sorta.” as the article hones in on the disappointment that happens when we build up false hopes through non-authentic interactions.
THE LESSON:. Practice understanding and, more importantly, accepting others and you can understand yourself better. The bonus here is that you get to learn the language of people that share your interests or could use your services. Framing “what we do” and “what we’re about” in ways people can identify with is a challenge we must all take on.
Julie On Dressing Right
You look up a business online. Their pledge outlines values you hold in high regards. Their service guarantee gives you peace of mind. Customer testimonials assure you further that this is the right choice.
Enter the disconnect…
You enter the office and nothing aligns with what is promised. The attire does not match the level of professionalism that you expect. The customer service does not is not as promised. The products are not as advertised.
Did you even go to the right place?
As customers, that is a frustrating encounter that could kill a potential sale before a warm connection can even be attempted.
What we forget when we’re on the other side of the customer interaction is that WE are the product.
Marketing starts and ends with you. If they dislike the people, the other stuff doesn’t really matter. Perception wins time after time.
Julie is a sort of pundit when it comes to discussing customer service, leadership, and relationship management issues within the overall service industry. Time and again, she sees people talking the talk but not walking the walk. As much as the rules of engagement in business may have changed, dressing to impress still matters and it’s not merely about attire. It’s about consistency and valuing your audience’s time.
THE LESSON:. Our attitudes (or, better yet, behaviors), clothes, posture, energy, actions.. Everything projects a stronger image than what mere words may say. Julie matches everything she does to her audience, while staying true to herself. This is something I find few businesses execute upon properly because we’re too busy trying to win people over. Perhaps it’s desperation at work but the lies eventually are shattered regardless.
Now let’s see how this all comes into play…Traditional Marketing And Dating Tries To Woo Us
I dislike dating and my mastermind group cohorts tend to agree. It’s awkward, unnatural, and fake. Think about it: all the small talk, empty promises, and overall manipulation put into play to make us believe stories that may not even be remotely true. Hey, doesn’t that sound like traditional marketing?
I can see us being really good together. You’re just what I’ve been looking for.
I don’t want to be wooed or patronized. Sure, it’s nice to be wined-and-dined but, ultimately, I want to know we share something REAL together and you care about me, flaws and all. Tell me you’re a little crazy (hurray for us misfits), share your real intentions, let me know how you messed up in the past and what you learned from it. I’ll respect you more for it and, at the very least, we can be friends.
Besides, why build any relationship based on lies? Lies are eventually uncovered and then we realized we wasted our time, a resource no one should give up frivolously.
Traditional marketers like to woo us and get us all stoked, only to pull the ‘ol bait-and-switch on us. By then, we may be too deep to pull out so it becomes a love-hate relationship. That’s very toxic, if you ask me, and it’s something we need to address as business folks, consumers, and living souls.
In short, don’t waste my time making yourself out to be what you are not. If you’re more honest and forthcoming, who knows, you might get more “second dates”!
Why Authenticity Is More Crucial Than Ever
It used to be that you could start off small, engaging your customers in meaningful ways until you got referrals going. Once the momentum was built up, you could sit back and hide behind your brand. The more money businesses like this made, the more they could mass market and flood the world with advertisements.
Old business methodology was essentially auto-pilot business: systemize and automate until all you had to really focus on is basic, minimalized operations.
As competition set in, sales forces started to be trained to cold call and manipulate people into believing lies and empty promises. If those salespeople failed, they were replaced until something finally stuck. Then they lost customers and started to cut back on the work force to drive profits. This silly business still works to an extent but for how long?
Authenticity embraces several paradigm shifts well beyond the scope of this article but, for our purposes, the reason “keeping it real” matters is because it helps us build long-lasting, meaningful relationships. You can still lead with your best foot forward, but a little transparency and genuine interaction goes a long way.
Authenticity is a mere fad.. A load of horse dung.
Some argue that authenticity is a mere excuse to be crass or unprofessional. Perhaps it is for some but the reality is that the world is shifting towards authentic leaders. We want to connect with REAL people and do REAL things.
An Easy Out
Sometimes I feel we cling onto people out of desperation. We try to sell them on something, not thinking that maybe, just maybe, there are better relationships to pursue. This applies to business and personal life in ways most do not want to accept.
I say give people an easy out. Share what you’re offering and what you can and have done. Be realistic. Let people know that, if it doesn’t make them want to get to know you better, then you can go your separate ways.. Or just be “friends”.
We forget that people are just like us: they want different things at different times. We may like each other but that doesn’t mean we meet each others needs.
A real exit strategy should be a mutual thing, starting with a simple exchange, a REAL conversation…
- Here’s what I offer.
- Here’s what I want.
- What do you need?
- How can I help you?
- Here’s what I expect in return.
There you have it: simple and sweet. Provide terms and conditions for your service, whether you’re closing on a business deal or trying to “hook up”.
An easy out can circumvent ugly break-ups and resentment. Set the bar low so you can surprise people later. Give ’em something to look forward to.
You can always upsell later if you built a strong relationship.
Let’s Make Marketing And Dating Fun
The social web has made it easier than ever to connect with like-minded people. We don’t have to agree on everything (and I sure hope we don’t) but we should share similar goals and core values. Now, we can spend more time with the right people rather than trying to force things.
Kill The Gimmicks And Lures
Sometimes, the temptation to bargain and offer free stuff is too great to ignore… But it takes away from the real reason we want people to like us, no? It also sets the bar high when we make promises we can’t keep. Even worse, we can get people to expect us to do things we can’t sustain. Look how this happens in dating and marketing alike…
“I just can’t stand messy people. If I see you wear the same shirt two days in a row, I have to wonder about your cleanliness and if you really respect yourself. I don’t think you can value another person if you don’t value yourself first…”
“I knoooowwww! Lack of hygeine and organization are major turn-offs for me. I think we’ll get along fine.”
Hey, our happy daters hit it off! They both agree on something very dear to them. YAY!
…Or maybe, just maybe, that second person was only saying what they thought the other wanted to hear. Now it turns out they get serious and the ruse is broken. After they move in together, fights start up left and right about how messy and disgusting Person B is.. Alas, Person A feels stuck now and so much time was wasted.
What happened to the person they knew?
They were never real.
“I need someone that I can trust. Someone that won’t just disappear once they get paid.”
“I’d never abandon a client. I’ve been there before so I know how it feels. It’s not a good feeling. I value you too much as a client to put you through that… Now sign on the dotted line.”
More deception. The service provider gets paid, delivers some work, and eventually stops answering the phone and e-mail messages promptly, if at all. Needless to say, the trust was a false one and another heart is broken.
Some may off-set the distrust of a heartbroken, jaded person by offering credentials, social proof, and a “proven history”.. But we all know there is no such thing as a measured risk in a relationship. All you can do is jump in, temper expectations, and hope for the best.. Or just hide under a rock.
It’s your choice.
It Ain’t Easy Being See-Through
Honesty is hard.
Authenticity is a little easier because we get to choose the level of transparency appropriate for our audience. It’s more about consistent marketing through all we do, rather than blunt, unfiltered honesty. Perhaps there is such a thing as TOO much honesty. The “trick” is to represent yourself in genuine ways, while leaving a little something-something for later.
Why is authenticity so hard for some?
We know if people know our mistakes and flaws, they may run the other way. Maybe that’s best for everyone. Do we really want to nurture ANY kind of relationship, business or personal, where it’s all forced or there are too many conflicts of interest?
It’s also engrained into our psyche to be afraid to say “I don’t know” or admit we’re not rockstars. We’re often on a constant mission to impress others. Instead, we should impress upon others what we are really about.
The Social Web Frees Your Soul!
The beauty of the Internet today is that we can make connections around the world so quickly that we have more of an opportunity to prospect and screen properly. We can whittle down all those “friend lists” to the few we should be spending more, if not most, of our time with. We can be ourselves and people can take it or leave it. No worries – there’s plenty more people out there!
This excites me greatly and, really, I challenge those that say you “have to” do more stuff offline. It works for some, sure, but I’ve found that you often build more worthwhile, meaningful relationships when you interact with people online. You’ll still get the pretenders but there are ample opportunities to ask key questions and engage in big ways before levelling up the relationship to “IRL status”.
I know most will call me crazy but I’m too busy and driven to focus on people that are wasting my time. I also don’t want to waste anyone’s time, either. As such, the Internet is where I focus my life. The social web allows us to find the right people at the right time. No more dating and silly pleasantries. Give me the REAL people and we can help each other.
We saw in Laurinda and Julie’s examples how the Internet can lead to disappointment but these “daters” don’t give you a real opportunity to engage them. They lack authenticity so their only goal is to get you to pay before the ruse fades away. With that in mind, I feel you can do so much more in less time online so I’ll stick to cyberspace. Dating, errmmm, traditional marketing (and networking) is for the birds!
Now let’s start some conversations…
What have you found to be the balance in your business and personal life? Has the online world made your life more efficient and fulfilling? Do you think traditional marketing and dating still have a place in the world?