In the last year or so, I’ve noticed a brilliant shift in the world of online marketing.
As you know, many of the companies that are growing at a fast clip are using content marketing. They’re communicating with their customers. They’re giving away information for free.
But even more than that, the really successful online marketers are companies with powerful, consistent brand personalities.
They know who they are and what they stand for. And it comes across in every blog post, newsletter, webpage, and communication.
It’s not enough to send a monthly email newsletter or keep a blog. It’s not enough to give away information. Even if you have the best product on the market, you still need a little something more.
Just look at Marie Forleo—a life coach whose stated mission is to make ladies rich, happy, and hot. Her primary content marketing channel is video and every single one of those videos is designed to let her personality (which is, in her case, also the personality of the business) shine through.
Her online following, her program sales, and her media coverage, understandably, seem to be exploding.
Similarly, though in a different industry and with a different cause, there’s Sevenly—a clothing retailer with a charitable twist. Their brand personality is confident, compassionate, and passionate…and it shines through every communication.
They are also spectacularly popular (and making a difference to boot).
These companies probably have great products, but it isn’t product that really makes them shine. They’re storytellers with consistent and beautiful personalities. They’re companies you want to know personally. They stand for things that we all want to stand for (do I want to be rich, happy, and hot? You betcha. And do I believe that Marie Forleo, whose every video oozes with laughter, beauty, and confidence, can get me there? You better believe it.)
And another (somewhat embarrassing) example…
Finally, I’ll add my own experience to the mix: when I first started my business, I wanted to seem bigger and more experienced. So I hid behind a bit of a corporate mask. I wrote my website a little more formally than I actually wanted to. I didn’t put together a voice and tone guide. I didn’t even think about my brand’s personality.
In other words, I held back.
Luckily, though, with time came confidence. (Not to mention the embarrassing realization that I wasn’t following the very advice I was giving my clients. Oops.)
So I overhauled my website, my content strategy, and my voice. I put a picture of myself laughing on the homepage. I stopped writing in a formal voice and started saying things like “heck yeah” and “oopsie-daisy” – because, hey, that’s more me and as an independent contractor I am my brand personality.
Within two weeks of launch, I had closed one new client and filled my inbox with queries from people who wanted to do something bold, new, and different.
In other words, identifying and owning my business personality was an immediate game changer in terms of both leads and sales.
What this doesn’t mean
Okay. So you get it. When it comes to doing business online—and especially with content marketing—personality wins business. But I should probably also offer a little clarification:
Having a personality doesn’t mean being the boldest, biggest, funniest, or most colorful character on the block. It doesn’t mean you should make light of serious topics. It doesn’t mean copying the Marie Forleos of the world.
What it does mean is identifying what you stand for and emulating that in all your brand decisions—from word choice to logo colors to which magazines you appear in. It means knowing who your business is, how it speaks, and who it is talking to.
If your business is selling medical equipment and targeting hospital decision-makers, its personality should feel very different from Sevenly’s or Marie Forleo’s or mine.
So, how do we get there?
As usual, this is where content strategy, advance planning, and putting together a useful, consistent style guide come in. In my next article, I think I’ll talk about just that.
Thoughts? Questions? Comments? Drop us a note in the comments below.