A few weekends ago, my husband, Aaron, and I went shopping for a new mattress. The first place we went was a smaller retail chain store. An impressive sales guy greeted us pretty soon after we walked through the door. He was super nice, just informative enough and really personable.
To be honest, I was shocked.
I mean, let’s be real — when you think about shopping in a retail store for a big-ticket item, the first words that come to mind, regarding the sales people, aren’t typically “nice”, “informative” or “personable”.
Even though we had a great experience at the first stop, we wanted to shop around a little more. Long story short: the guy at the next place practically ran at us as soon as we walked in, and then laughed when we told him our price range; at our last stop, we hung around for 5-10 minutes and nobody looked at us the entire time, so we left.
Needless to say, we went back to the first place.
Although, we could’ve gotten a little bit better deal at one of the other locations, I was so impressed with the first guy’s service and personality that I wanted to buy from him. (He even gave us a bit of a discount — bonus!)
So what does my mattress-shopping experience have to do with your business success? The short answer is: basically everything.
But me explain.
Especially today, people want to buy from people. Customers are looking for connection to the businesses and brands they decide to buy from. Authenticity matters more than ever, and this is especially true when you’re running an online business (since many peoples’ only impression of you will be based on how you communicate in the digital world).
Here’s a quick and simple plan you can follow to be better in business, by just being you:
One of the best ways to stand out and build an authentic brand is to give people a taste of your reality. We all know that entrepreneurship (and life) isn’t 100% rainbows and roses, so don’t be afraid to showcase your struggles and setbacks every once-in-awhile. It’ll help your followers and customers connect with you.
I know one issue that visually-creative entrepreneurs (designers, photographers, etc.) face when it comes to being real in business, is wanting to populate their platforms with a bunch of beautiful content that’s planned weeks in advance. I get that. Try picking one time per week to jump on and edit a caption/description right before you post. Think about how the scheduled image or video relates to something you’re currently dealing with, or something you’ve dealt with in the past. Throw down #allthefeels and watch as you inspire and connect with people on a deeper level.
If you’re already keeping it real with your content, consider how you’re actually running your business — like your sales process. When you get customer questions or client inquiries, are you truly thinking about if/how you can help them?
At the first mattress store, that’s what the sales guy did to stand out — he tried to help us, rather than sell something to us. Having a helpful approach can make a big difference when so many businesses lead with the sale, rather than an authentic desire to serve.
Just like Aaron and I left the last mattress store because the salespeople paid no attention to us, your followers and customers want you to engage with them. When you put your work out into the world, taking time to realize how people respond. Then, engage with their comments, questions and feedback.
This goes for social posts, blogs, client work, infoproducts and more. Ask for feedback, answer questions thoughtfully and, most importantly, listen. The more you listen to and engage with your followers and customers, the better you’ll be able to speak to them authentically and serve them with your products and services.
Of course, we all scroll our feeds, scan our inboxes and spend time site-hopping for inspiration, because there are so many cool creatives and big-hearted marketers doing amazing things online these days. Where we need to be careful though, is when we slip into the black hole of comparison. That place is dangerous.
Avoid inching toward the comparison-trap at all cost by setting a clear intention when you’re looking for inspiration. (I need 10 pose ideas for my photoshoot, I’m studying to develop an editorial plan for my Instagram, I’m looking for 5 ideas to help me DIY a backdrop for filming my new course, etc.)
Another important thing to avoid is promoting yourself out of desperation to make a sale. Even if you are actually desperate for a sale, think about what type of person you’re inspired to work with and what might inspire that person to work with you.
This is where the second mattress guy missed the mark — he was clearly only inspired by dollar signs. Ugh, not my style.
Bottom Line: Be you and watch your business shine.