“Value” has seem to become a bit of a buzzword lately.
Bloggers, entrepreneurs, and digital marketers alike have used this word to describe what it means to connect with an audience, draw in leads, and even sell products and services.
How this came to be could be due in part to the fact that consumers are more savvy about shady marketing tactics than ever before. So, businesses have moved toward this strategy of using “value” to entice potential customers to buy.
What that “value” ends up being varies depending on the entrepreneur, industry, etc. Either way, the idea is that people will trust businesses that provide helpful advice, share knowledge, and showcase tangible results.
So, what’s the problem with relying on “value” to sell? In this post I’m breaking down why Authenticity, not “value”, matters most when it comes to your business content and brand message.
The Case Against “Value”
While focusing on providing value to your potential customers may sound like the best approach to convincing them to work with you, there are actually a few flaws about this so-called “strategy”.
While the “value” approach depends on sharing knowledge and showcasing results, it does not specify whether that information is authentic or reliable. The result is business owners highlighting experience, knowledge, and case studies they may not actually have, and relying on repurposed content to carry their brand.
Though not EVERY entrepreneur or marketer is doing this, it’s impossible not to see the trend of people circulating the same content across platforms and re-packaging existing content (such as ebooks, courses. etc.) as their own.
On the flip side, Authenticity gets to the core of the business and highlights what makes that business unique and fitted for the potential customer’s needs. It doesn’t rely on circulating a ton of “free tips” and webinars to entice customers. Instead, it lets the brand and its message speak for itself. This, in turn, provides value to potential customers by default because they are getting an honest brand message.
How to Embody Authenticity in Your Brand and Content
Though I think all brands and business owners should continue to share value with their audience, I think it is most important that they get to the core of what their business is all about and truly embody authenticity in their content.
1) Know What You Stand For
In the current climate, you will find a lot of brands and entrepreneurs sending out mixed messages online. In one breath, they may talk about feeling empowered and philanthropic, and in the next be talking about private jets and being a #businessbitch – often all with the motive to drive engagement online.
And this is not to say that someone can’t be all of these things… but it sends a less cohesive image to your target audience.
That inconsistency results in a lack of trust from your audience. They won’t truly know what you are about or what you stand for.
By trying to appeal to everyone, or even aligning your content with current trends, you aren’t necessarily staying true to yourself. And your audience can sense it.
2) Know What Your Audience Wants and Needs
Before you aim to provide value to your audience, you first need to truly understand what their pain points are and how you can help them.
Without this foundation, you’ll simply be grasping at straws when it comes to knowing what knowledge and content you should share. This then leads to circulating content that may or may not be in line with your brand.
Take some time getting to know what they need and are looking for online. Make satisfying those needs a key focus of your business. From that point, the content (and the value) will begin to flow naturally.
3) Stay True to Your Goals
Chances are, if you are a business owner or aspiring business owner, you have goals or certain milestones you want to hit. These may include a current income level, financial freedom, helping others, etc. Having goals help you stay focused and work toward a better business and life.
If your goals are to help people or even to just make more money, it’s beneficial to stay on course. Being influenced by other people’s expectations of you, or the milestones society/the media tells you to hit will only confuse your process. It will also become evident to your audience that you may be inauthentic in your pursuits.
If you don’t have goals for your business, make some. Then incorporate that into your brand mission. This will help solidify your strategy and the purpose behind your business AND help your audience see what you are all about.
4) Share Your Process
I like to see this as giving your audience a bit of a taste of what you can do for them. This may be in the form of tutorials, blog posts, videos, etc. If you can break down some elements of what your business does, people can see that you aren’t full of fluff.
This step helps keep you accountable. If you can’t do something, or can’t outsource it, you shouldn’t be selling it. Some people will argue with this, but I will get say that many a brand has fallen apart because people started calling into question their claims. If you can’t back them up, you may find yourself in hot water.
Sharing a bit of your process in the form of freebies can be a good way to get people to join your email list and attract them to your services and products. They key here is not to give TOO much away for free. It should be enough to give them a glimpse into what you can do, as well as help them accomplish some “micro win”. Help them in some way, and they are more likely to trust you, and in turn, buy what you are selling.
5) Share Your Results
Sharing results, testimonials, case studies, and the like is a common what that people tend to share “value” online. This can be very effective because to provide potential customers with the proof they often need to finally make the decision to work with you.
Unfortunately, a lot of people get hung up on this and feel that they have to share as much proof as possible (including in the form of social media follows ie “social proof”). Yes, this can help you appear more legitimate, but it can also come across as a bit show-off-y. If people think you are fluffing yourself up too much, they will be hesitant to trust you.
Be sure to showcase the real results you have gotten for people. Don’t inflate your successes. Be authentic in the claims of what you can do and what you have done. Not only will you be preventing yourself from getting “found out”, but your audience will appreciate your humility.
Be Authentic. Share Value. Attract the Business You Deserve.
Starting a business is a fun, challenging, and fulfilling journey. No matter your reasons for wanting to be an entrepreneur, you will attract customers that are in line with your mission and services if you are authentic and help them in some way.
Don’t shy away from sharing value, but just know that at the core of your success is having an authentic brand. If you are able to embody this in your business and your content, you will be well on your way to a more dedicated fan base and more sales. Who doesn’t want that?