Stand-In First Date: Where’s the Authenticity?

squirrelWhat happens when small businesses choose to utilize inbound marketing professionals to run their marketing programs?  The biggest challenge is the lack of authenticity.  People that write content for you aren’t YOU.  Only you can be you, and people in your community know when it’s not.

Five years ago, I hired a team member to run my “social media campaigns”, preferably remotely.   He was instructed to feature local businesses a couple of times a week on Facebook.  My wife called me one summer afternoon and said:  “I’ve wanted to have lunch at that restaurant for a long time.  Why didn’t you take ME?”  I had no idea what she was talking about, or worse, why she was upset.  When I checked my Facebook timeline, it became obvious:  My social media manager had posted a review for me. Not only would I have never chosen to eat at the restaurant, anyone who knows me could figure out in milliseconds that I would never order the menu items he mentioned in the review.  In that instant I realized that my role as a business owner had to change.  No longer could I be seen as a “salesman”.    In order to survive in a world demanding transparency and authenticity, I had to develop a personal brand and align it closely with that of the company.  No longer could I sell products and services: I had to begin marketing myself.

Almost everything has changed since that day 5 years ago. Everything, that is, except the diligent focus on providing exceptional value and service. Anyone who reaches out to a business for service today expects to be served on their timeline and according to their needs.  Even more, today’s ultimate close isn’t really a close at all.   It’s more like a trust-building interaction to confirm authenticity…

Don’t send your best friend on YOUR blind date.