The first time I posted content online, I did the professional thing and played it safe — and it got me nowhere.
The response to my content was dismal. Hardly anyone cared, and engagement on my blog, social media posts and podcast didn’t get the responses I had hoped for. My adherence to “professionalism” didn’t do the trick, and no one engaged or reached out. And for business, this is terrible news.
Similarly, when I search online whether it’s big brands, franchises or new entrepreneurs — I find many of them are making the same mistake. They are too professional and not personal enough, and therefore, their fans aren’t engaging and aren’t coming closer.
The first time I was encouraged to tell my personal story online — the story of becoming homeless after my contract at a dream job had ended and I couldn’t find similar work — was scary. That’s not the stuff I ever wanted anyone to know, especially at a time when I was finding my footing as a new business owner.
Initially, it was scary to push the envelope that way, but as the fans grew, the engagement increased and more customers started to flood in — I knew transparency marketing worked. If you’ve been struggling to have engaged readers, viewers and listeners of your content, it could very well be because your content is boring and doesn’t offer depth.
Creating engagement and depth starts with vulnerability.
According to marketers, when advertisers and companies include vulnerability and transparency in their marketing, it increases engagement.
This push for marketing to have more vulnerability has become so popular that there’s even a term for it: transparency marketing. Interestingly enough, this marketing tactic has some of its roots in what relationship counselors have known for decades; transparency, honesty, vulnerability and honesty breed intimacy. It’s only been in the last decade or so that marketers have seen the light and realized that people don’t want to connect with brands — they want to connect with something human.
If your online presence lacks engagement, try getting personal. Tell your fans and viewers something vulnerable and transparent. This method works well and according to research by Label Insight, 94 percent of those surveyed are more likely to be loyal to brands that are transparent. The study also found that 56 percent of respondents would stay loyal to a brand for life if it was completely transparent.
Now, these stats may do well to back up what I’m saying, but what matters more to me is that a simple check-in with yourself verifies these facts. When you think of an entrepreneur or company who you feel is honest with you as opposed to one who hides something — which one are you more likely to buy from?
If you’re like me, you’ll choose companies you like, trust and feel have your best interests at heart. Transparency marketing is all about letting your fans, customers and leads into your world so they know you and feel your brand’s human side. While you don’t have to empty out your closet and let all your skeletons out, try finding an edge that is a bit uncomfortable.
Personal stories create a massive connection. In my case, I used to think that disclosing vulnerable stories wouldn’t help me sell more, but after testing it out, I’ve learned that when people know me — they are more inclined to be comfortable asking about my services.
Vulnerability helps you sell with ease.
Since I discovered transparency marketing, some of my social media posts have been deeply personal. I talked about being homeless as a child in Medellin, Colombia, and later being adopted. I also told my story of finding forgiveness for my father who left when I was born, leaving my mom with three children during very turbulent times in Colombia. While none of those are business related, I can directly correlate new business doors that were opened because of them.
When I work with companies and entrepreneurs, my first goal is to help them extract their story. To make it transparent in all of their marketing. People don’t connect to your products; they remember your story, your humanness, and if they resonate with that — you’ll be unforgettable and become part of their lives.
You don’t have to share intimate details about your own story to be transparent. Clothing retailer Everlane, for example, tells you exactly what to expect from its products, and where it gets really transparent is the price tag — each product page tells you exactly how the company came to the price tag you’re seeing.
In this new era of marketing, I’ve heard hundreds of people online say, “People want to buy from people, not from corporations.” The only way any company or brand can make themselves human is by using more transparency in their marketing.
Here’s how you can start being more vulnerable in your marketing.
When I encourage you to share more vulnerability, I am not suggesting you start airing out your dirty laundry. Not everything needs to be shared, but there are some ways you can safely share without overexposing yourself.
For example, maybe your company experienced a major failure, and by letting your audience know about it, you’ll become more human — fallible, imperfect and just like all of us who are reading. As an example, this Facebook post by entrepreneur Jeff Hunter about losing his biggest client has nearly 300 comments and numerous people offering to help him out by referring clients and purchasing his services.
Try this in your own social media posts, videos, blogs and whatever kind of material that your audience tunes into. It’s worked wonders for entertainers (take a listen to Jay-Z’s album 4:44, where he confesses to cheating on Beyonce and much more). If it works in entertainment, social media and big brands like Southwest Airlines and Panera Bread, it can work for your business, too.
Now it’s time you put a little edge into your content, differentiate yourself and show the human side to help your audience feel more connected and thus more compelled to trust you when you make an offer.