‘Authenticity’ is the buzz word at the moment. But why?
Fundamentally, I think it comes down to people wanting to work with people that they understand and trust. They no longer have inherent trust in a doctor in a white coat, or a solicitor just because they have a degree.
Professionals cannot hold themselves on a pedestal with most clients any more, they need to be modest, honest, and real people – hence ‘authentic’.
So how do you convey that, before you even meet the client?
Putting as much of your story into your branding and content as possible. Giving reasons why you do what you do, giving information about what you do in your own time, giving some information about your family, and also providing information about who you work with and what you’re achieved – all very important stories to provide.
Another important reason to be authentic, is because it attracts people to you that you’re happy to work with, and repels people that you don’t want to work with.
You don’t have to please everyone, or have everyone like you!
As well as it being important for you to clear on your ‘why’ yourself, it’s good to be able to articulate it. People will relate to you more, and particularly if you have passion for what you do – but why you have that passion.
You need to be able to articulate your passion in the form of a story. For example, I always tell people a couple of cases that got me really passionate about doing estate planning right – a couple of stories about cases that had gone really wrong. This creates both a scare for people to do their planning properly, because they don’t want to end up like the cases I describe. But it also gives them a sense of who I am, and what I think is right and wrong.
It’s a fantasy to think that you can keep your private life completely private, in the age of social media. If you didn’t already know, clients do actually look you up online – they want to know a little about you. I certainly do the same thing for any professional I am going to work with – I do my professional and private stalking to check them out. Warning: if there’s any drunk or naked photos, then it doesn’t bode well!
So figure out what you’re prepared to share online, and actually do this consciously. I am happy to share with people that I run, that I do obstacles courses, that I have dogs, and that I enjoy saltwater fishing. My social media doesn’t reveal much more than that, except for some photos with my husband. And because it’s on my social media, I also introduce myself in speaking gigs with some of these photos, so people get an idea of who I am when I’m not at work.
It’s really important to use so of your case studies. Change names, or merge situations, if you need to. But case studies do a number of things for you. Firstly, it highlights what is important for you in your work, and what sort of work you want to be doing. Secondly, it reassures people that you’re doing good work, so they can trust you. And thirdly, it is a way of describing your work experience in a way that your ideal clients can relate to.
So, you’re convinced that you should share more of yourself and create stories in your marketing. But how?
There’s nothing better than people hearing your voice. Include as much of your story in any public speaking gig you get. But, you can’t get in front of everyone, so video is a great tool to be using.
Video doesn’t have to be professionally produced. Perhaps do a couple of key videos, and get a feature video of your story produced. But get on video in front of your audience as often as possible – Facebook Live, Instagram TV, YouTube, webinars, and then posting any of this content again on your website.
Besides videos, you can’t forget the written word. People’s attention spans are less these days, but if you can grab them with an interesting story, they may read some of what you have to say. Written case studies on Facebook, in email newsletters, and on your blog are crucial. Not only for content for educating your clients, but also got that all important search engine optimisation.
Why have I bothered to outline why story is important in your marketing, and where to include the stories in your marketing?
Because I think that people can be served better in the legal and other professional industries. I think there’s plenty of clients out there, and I think we can attract those that are right for us, and others will attract those that are right for them.
But without some humanity in our marketing, then it’s harder for clients to choose who they feel is the best fit for them. If we could all work with people who relate to us as people, then I think the service experience will be far more satisfying.