The Truth Will Out
As I was flipping through the news on my phone this morning, I came across the story about Hilaria Baldwin telling everyone she came from Spain when she really grew up in Boston. Yes, much to everyone's disappointment who follows her on Instagram (which is a mystery to me), Hilaria is actually a white girl originally named Hillary Lynn Hayward-Thomas who sometimes speaks with a Spanish accent and pretended to forget the word for "cucumber" on the TODAY Show.
Dare I say that this story about Hilaria is hilarious.
Poor Hilaria is learning the hard way that trying to pull one over on the public during a digital age when you can't hide anything can be detrimental to your brand. Now, in my experience marketing financial advisors, few of them are trying to pass themselves off as Spanish because they spent Spring Break '99 there...but the lesson is still the same.
Keeping It Real
I get quite a few calls from people who tell me they like what one of my clients, Kristi Sullivan, does with her marketing. But the moment I tell them that the reason she's so successful is because she's willing to do things like this...
...they often take a step back and decide to create the same type of content that's on a lot of other financial planning websites. Which ultimately won't get them the results they're looking for.
Kristi is funny.
She's willing to be a little silly.
She's wicked smart when it comes to financial planning.
And people who look at her website know that they'll be in good hands...and might have a little fun in the process.
I've often talked about transparency in marketing and while some people take it to heart...being that open sometimes scares the bejesus out of others. I truly think that it boils down to the question we've been asking ourselves since the 4th grade:
WHAT IF THEY DON'T LIKE ME?
Yes, it might seem like a risky move for Kristi to put something like this...
...on her website. OR it might just tip the scales in her favor and make someone so comfortable with her that they make that appointment for an initial consultation.
What Kristi is doing that Hilaria isn't is being totally and completely herself - which means that she's going to attract people who work well with her. By putting herself out there - even sharing some things about her personal life - her ideal client is immediately attracted to the idea of working with her. And that's what Kristi wants.
Your Brand is YOU
I have built a brand, gotten a book deal, and developed a following of thousands by doing ONE THING: being myself. My life is literally an open book. If you look anywhere on my personal, author, or grief support social media you'll learn that I'm a widowed-now-happily-single mother of three who loves boxed wine and The Golden Girls. Ask me a question and I'm not afraid to give you an honest answer. And I LOVE that level of freedom.
Again, these are on other social media pages, but I'm still transparent on my business pages as well. My branding photo shoot took place in my backyard and I made sure to get my dog, Max, in a few of the pictures. My blog is open about things that have worked for me and things that haven't when it comes to my business. I've even included a few personal tidbits (which permission) about my team of consultants.
If you're a service provider, the very thing you're marketing (or should be marketing) - is YOU and you shouldn't be afraid to put yourself out there. It's like online dating: don't make your bio say one thing just because you think it will appeal to someone and use a picture from 20 years ago so that when you meet for that first glass of wine the other person doesn't even recognize you (yes, that happens. A LOT).
If someone looks at your website and then makes an appointment, there should be nothing that takes them by surprise. If you have a sense of humor, use it in your marketing. If there are things that you're passionate about, let that into your digital personality. Be the REAL YOU in the digital world so that people have a sense of who you really are and how you work.
To put it in Hilaria terms: Don't put yourself out into the world with a Spanish accent that floats in and out when you remember to use it.