It makes sense to hear strong relationships form when an emotional connection exists.
In fact relationships are made stronger the stronger the emotional connection. And emotional connections are made stronger when both parties are honest with each other, in that they share their highs and lows. They keep it real in the relationship by not glossing over topics, sanitising experiences or saying what they think is expected if it isn’t genuine. In other words, to bring your whole self to the relationship no pretending is required.
I’m writing about this as I see there’s a connection to your content marketing. You do content marketing to connect with an audience, earn their trust and start to develop a relationship. You want that relationship to build over time. To do so you want to understand what the other party wants from a relationship. You have to get to know your audience. Take time to ‘client listen’ and really get to know their needs. Go deeper, get to know how they think, what they believe. Understand why they do what they do. This is an exercise in developing customer personas to get clear on who you’re talking to so you talk to them about what they’re interested in and how they want to be talked to – not simply push your agenda.
However there’s a catch to this relationship development. Just because you think you understand someone, your customer, still doesn’t mean you have a relationship. Like any good relationship it can’t be one sided. It won’t work like that. The best relationships are two way. In content marketing you have to watch that you don’t simply talk in one direction. You have to pay attention to have an exchange with your customer. You can invite them into an exchange by allowing comments or by answering their questions. Your ability to listen is just as important as your ability to talk. Remember, two ears, one mouth.
Another aspect that’s required is for them to get to know you too. In your content marketing your ability to appeal to your audience depends just as much on how much of yourself you invest as well. You have to meet your audience where they are. You do this by injecting your personality into your content. This can happen at an individual level if you’re a thought leader or at a brand level where you keep to a consistent brand personality across your communication channels. Dale Carnegie, of How To Win Friends And Influence People fame, said making a speech personal is the shortest route to winning people over.
Remember that emotional connection I spoke of earlier? Well it’s easier to make that connection when you open yourself up to vulnerability. The proof we seek some honesty is the fact Brene Brown’s 2010 TEDx talk has a staggering 31 million views at last check!
The Brown TEDx talk shows we want vulnerability. We want to relate to what’s real, to what’s true. When you reveal yourself more truthfully in your content marketing you open yourself up to being in a relationship with your audience. You don’t have to over share but you do have to be genuine. People can smell a rat, they can read the double speak, and they don’t like either. No one likes to be played that’s why your content needs to be genuine.
Share your authentic voice
In your content be more of yourself, less of anyone else. There’s too much content out there for you to simply mimic others. There’s no need either. When you share your real personality you take a stand to bring your unique voice to your content. What makes people stop and notice is when you bring a part of you that others don’t. It’s this unique voice that your audience wants to hear and it’s how you increase your appeal. The beauty is that your stories are yours and unless anyone else steals them they should only be told by you. Warren Buffet also knows this as he frequently adds life and career anecdotes to his talks to make a point.
When you tell your stories, share the highlights and don’t be afraid to do so in the context of the lowlights. The path you got to somewhere great isn’t done in a straight line. If you had an interesting journey, or even a unique one, then weave that into your content marketing. Perhaps you sell a product and the first hundred prototypes were duds. By sharing your hardships as well as successes you are more likely to be relatable. People love honest stories. The greatest stories don’t simply have a happy ending - they have drama, highs and lows, or obstacles to overcome. Take from this that there is a need to humanise your content. When you do this you’ll find the right audience gravitates to you and from there your relationships stand a good chance of blossoming.
To truly inject your real self in your content it’s important to drop the ego. Be sensitive to others instead of being self absorbed. When you think about what you can do for someone else ahead of what they can do for you, your ability to connect with them is made all the more possible.
Connection is a key consideration. Our seeming connectedness online is making us more and more disconnected. Social researcher Hugh Mackay says the desire to connect, or engage, is one of our deepest yearnings. He writes we want to connect on three levels: with ourselves, to know ourselves better; to connect with each other, to communicate; and with the natural world. The advent of technology and automation has allowed us to outsource many things but the need to form real connections with ourselves, others and the environment is as real as ever. This also relates to another popular TED talk by Simon Sinek on the power of ‘why’. The talk highlights our desire to connect with others and companies that believe what we believe. Hence another way we connect.
What this all indicates is a need to be earnest in your content and communications.
It also pays to remember that people work with people. Understand your content is just a mechanism to build connections with people in real life. Content is the start of a relationship. It develops goodwill. It is a door opener to more productive, real, in person conversations. And that’s why it matters.