Ain’t no place like home, right? And it feels gooood to be back after traveling for 2 weeks.
While I was gone, I received great questions from you!
I’ll kick off today with a very smart Q from my dear friend Connie. Connie designs and crafts exceptionally practical yet stylish handbags for busy gals who don’t wanna choose between looking good and being organized. She writes:
“I am not my ideal customer! I am in some areas but not in others…with all this talk of being authentic and showing the real you, I feel like a fraud. For example, my customer is interested in fashion (enough to buy a $200 handmade bag), but I am unfortunately not a personal stylist.
How can I offer them content that is valuable to them but that I am no expert in?
Another example: In writing my copy, I want to write things like “I designed this bag for those times when you’re in the checkout line at Whole Foods and….” but I don’t shop at Whole Foods myself…too expensive for my hungry family of boys! But I’m pretty sure someone who pays $200 for a handmade bag probably is a Whole Food devotee. “
I love this question and I know a lot of us can relate! It’s one of the biggest challenges to truly connect with the people you wanna sell to, especially when you’re not one of them. Hell, even if you are one of them it can be freaking tough.
It’s so easy to feel like a fraud, when you’re trying to bend yourself to be who you think your ideal customers want you to be. To tell them what you think they wanna hear. And sell them what you think they wanna buy…
That’s why I’m gonna give you the 7 Do’s And Don’ts of Authentic Communication today – so that you can truly connect with your ideal customers and never feel like a fraud again.
3, 2, 1… GO:
1. DON’T: get caught up in assumptions
Oh Lord have mercy! This happens to the best of us! All the fucking time.
What do I mean?
When there’s a question that we can’t answer based on our own knowledge or personal experience? Our brains will try to answer them anyway. Most likely based on some kind of bullshit.
Or as the dictionary puts it: “assumption = something taken for granted or accepted as true without proof”
See my friend Connie here. She assumes that a woman who spends $200 on a handbag, would shop at Whole Foods. But how do you know?
And that’s exactly the point. If you don’t know and your brain just makes up random “facts” for you? It doesn’t feel right. That’s why you feel like a fraud.
Before you go “thanks for the psycho analysis, but how the hell do I avoid this?” let me escort you to point 2 of the equation:
2. DON’T: let “being specific” become a trap
You know that being specific in your writing and entire communication is the KEY to your customer’s heart. Sorry for the cheesy analogy but it’s true. The more specific you are, the deeper the connection you establish with your audience.
As a result there can be a lot of pressure to be a 24/7-specificity-machine. Because otherwise no one will ever relate and you’re not gonna sell a single product and go broke within a month and then you’re gonna have to sell your condo and eat toast everyfuckingday and never ever be happy again. Or something.
And while I am the number one advertiser of being specific, it can be a trap sometimes!
Because when you’re being highly specific, you ALWAYS feel like you’re excluding some people. Right?
Now what’s a solution for this dilemma?
Be specific in more than one way!
In Connie’s case it could look something like this: “Whether you’re in the checkout-line at Whole Foods or at WalMart, one thing is for certain: your bag won’t let you down! With all the extra space and side-pockets, you can easily fit in 2 ounces of organic kale next to the screws you just bought for your new DIY-project. And still manage to grab your car-keys within a second in the parking lot – instead of bulldozing your hand through what seems like a conglomerate of kale, screws and your family’s lunch… until you finally find the damn keys.”
See? That was specific in more than one way. You can speak to different kinds of people at the same time and you don’t have to limit yourself at all.
IF – for some reason – you do need to be specific in only one way, point 3 will help you decide:
3. DO: keep it real and speak your own truth
That’s always the way to go. If you’ve never even seen a Whole Foods store from the inside, don’t talk about shopping at Whole Foods. Find something else that you DO know about.
Because when you know about something and it is your truth? People can feel it! You’re being authentic without trying to be. You’re keeping it real. And eventually that’s what it’s all about.
Don’t go for assumptions, go for your truth!
Me for example: I don’t live in the US. Yet I have the biggest audience in the US. This means that I can’t speak about some things authentically, even if my ideal customers would totally relate.
But I don’t do it, because it’s not real. It’s not me. And people would feel it.
4. DON’T: let money fool you
Closely connected to assumptions as well, but this deserves its own paragraph. Because money is such a big issue for most of us.
Now, just because someone would spend $200 on a handbag, doesn’t mean they’re bathing in money, only shopping at Whole Foods and flying Business Class around the world.
By the way: This roots back to the problem, that we’re scared to charge what we wanna charge. Because we think “nobody can afford it”.
Guess what? That’s a big pile of poo!
Maybe your customer is a woman who saves money on food so that she can spend more on fashion? Or who never treats herself and decides to do so with one amazing handbag?
It’s about who she is and who she wants to be and not about how much she makes.
See, when I was studying in Holland, I had to share my toilet with 3 nasty dudes, but I bought shoes for €250! That sounds really dumb, but it was my gift to myself for my 25th birthday and I just looooooove these shoes! Even though I spent that kind of money on boots, I bought my entire kitchen ware at a store called “So Low” (cough), so you wouldn’t have seen me at Whole Foods either ;)
It is the WHY that truly counts: Why does she want YOUR specific bag? If these reasons are strong enough, the price will never be the defining factor.
5. DON’T be Captain Obvious
You can’t be Captain Obvious when you wanna establish a true connection.
Yes, Connie might be right about her ideal customer being interested in fashion. But there are 734.539 other things that could possibly light up her fire as well.
Ask yourself: What do my ideal customers have in common besides the obvious choice? (here: a general interest in fashion)
They’re all women. Mothers. Busy. They love practical things that save time. They’re stressed out and so on. So what else could be valuable to them?
In my case it would be obvious to talk about copy and writing all the time. I do talk about it a lot but there’s so much more: My people have businesses, they have courage and don’t give a shit about the status quo. They like a good laugh and are not offended by nasty words. They have websites and hey… some of them might even have a private life too ;) So there’s much more than copy for me to talk about!
Dig deep and go beyond the obvious. Your right people will love you for it and feel a true, honest connection.
6. DO: bring in other experts
I’m not an expert in everything. And neither are you. Thank god. Cause that would be fucking creepy.
The good thing? You’re not alone! So whenever you wanna offer a piece of content that you’re not an expert in? Bring in another expert!
It’s fun and versatile to have guest posts and other people contributing to your business. This way you get to “satisfy” your audience and promote somebody else’s work at the same time. A WIN-WIN for sure!
7. DO: talk to real people
Did Captain Obvious sneak into my post here? Maybe.
But it’s a biggie.
You can’t know everything. So talk to real people!
Go out and ask them. Ask about their typical day. Their dream vacation. Their favorite color when it comes to underwear.
The more the merrier.
I know, nobody wants to do this, but that’s just resistance screwing you up, my friend.
So go read comments on blogs, discussions in Facebook groups and take a look around your industry. This prep-work might sound boring, but it’s gold, so don’t skip it! Because it will come back and bite you in the buns. Tough love, baby.
And now: let’s get it on in the comments!
Are you your ideal customer or not?
Ever fell into the specificity-trap?
What are the not-so-obvious areas in which you connect with your ideal customers?
I can’t wait to hear!