How Small Business Owners Can Communicate in an Authentic Voice.
By Michael Sicuranza
In my last blog, I wrote about the importance of authenticity in communication, primarily through the act of writing. Many writers feel the process of writing helps them clarify their thoughts and be more precise with their thinking.
Personally, I find a lot of value in expressing my ideas through the written word. As a financial advisor, I believe it’s important for my clients to know more about the work I do on their behalf. The more I share with them about my beliefs and processes, the more trust I can earn to build stronger client relationships.
But the importance of authenticity isn’t limited to the financial world. Really, it’s valuable for any small business professional or executive who seeks build up their success and loyal customer base.
Authenticity has to be natural, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be nurtured. If you’re looking to create an authentic voice to represent your business, here are a few questions you can ask yourself to get started:
What do your customers value from your business?
This is where customer loyalty starts—and where your business’s branding efforts should begin. You really can’t begin to communicate effectively without knowing what your customers find valuable. Or to put it another way, why they will pay their hard-earned money to acquire your product or service.
To find the answer to this question, it helps to look more closely at the purpose of your business, including:
Know the customers you serve—their ages, addresses, occupations, income and other vital data can help you see your customers as more than names or account numbers.
Define your processes for fulfilling your customers’ needs.
Define the values your employees should follow in their customer interactions.
Be aspirational about the future of your business—where do you want to see your company in five years’ time?
What’s the best way to reach your customers?
Advertising your business’s value to the marketplace used to be much simpler when there were only a few avenues of communication. Not only have we seen an explosion in the number of communication mediums, people have new preferences for how they like to be reached by the companies they do business with.
Be open to communicating to your customers in different and inventive ways. Online marketing is inexpensive and relatively easy to do—no longer do you need to hire a pricey ad agency to reach millions of customers. But it’s also easy for your messages to get lost in the overload of information people receive every day.
Plus, just because online marketing is cheap doesn’t mean it will always be effective. Especially on social media platforms, authenticity can be the difference between marketing success and failure. When are your customers more likely to give you consideration? Knowing when your customers want to receive information can help you target your communications more effectively.
Where do you start?
Many writers find the blank page daunting. The secret to overcoming writer’s block is to worry less about perfection. Your first efforts probably won’t be great, so don’t shoot for greatness. Aim for authenticity instead—it’s better to try to sound like yourself than to imitate a standard.
Writing is much like other activities—practice makes perfect. Make it easy to get started—pick one medium like a blog article and stick to it. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see the results you expect or if the leads don’t flow in immediately. It takes time to build credibility and cultivate an audience.
That being said, learn from the results you are receiving. Track what communications are resonating, either through web site clicks or social media likes or even an increase in calls to your customer service team. Some topics will ring true with your audience—it’s important to find out what those topics are and build on them. Plus, you can learn quickly not to spend time on topics that aren’t of interest to your customers.
Plus, take advantage of existing tools that can automate the creation and distribution of your communications. For example, email marketing programs like Constant Contact and MailChimp allow you the freedom to write in your authentic voice, make so easy to send email communication to specific clients, and help you track the results of your efforts.
Perhaps most importantly, share what’s working best for you with your partners and peers. That’s one reason why I like to share some best practices that I’ve learned in these blog articles. I hope you find these insights inspirational to you. Feel free to share your own insights with me anytime.