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.



Going Back in Time

ElevatorWhen I was a kid, my dad used to spend every Saturday morning from 7am to Noon at the grain elevator lobby in our local town.  He and a dozen other farmers got together to talk about anything anyone wanted to discuss.  When I went along, one of the men always gave me a shiny quarter to buy an Orange Crush in a 10-ounce bottle from the Coca-Cola chest-cooler.  Back then, I thought it was because he liked me.  Now that I’ve been a father for 18 years, I’m pretty sure it was to keep me quiet so dad could socialize.

Why did I tell you this?  How is 1972 applicable to today?  Because people like my dad and his friends were all about community.  Their sense of belonging made time stand still because they shared common world views. Today the Internet adapts the desirable characteristics of 1972 while diminishing or even eliminating the constraints of geography.  Consumers’ options are longer defined by the yellow pages.  Businesses, their products and services, and even their representatives can be searched, researched, located, contacted, interacted with, mapped, and transacted with…no matter where they are in the world.

What does that mean to consumers?  A couple of things.  First, if you’re already being served by a business, but you don’t share complementary world views with the representative you were formerly bound or assigned to, you can research and locate a provider you ARE compatible with.  Doing so contributes to the creation of a community where you belong instead of feeling like a prospect constantly  being sold to.  Second, you can regain control of your time.  You’ll be able to confidently ignore a majority of the interruptions competing for your attention every day.  If you have the desire, you can now research and compare every brand that you believe to be a fit to provide for YOUR needs as well as identifying the company representatives you feel most compatible with.

When you follow this process, you’ll find yourself in a much happier place.  You’ll be part of a community of people who share similar world views.  Everyone is set free from the continuous interruptions by representatives who “just don’t get it”.

Sounds pretty appealing, doesn’t it?