Why Personality Is So Important for Small Businesses
Personality is something that my dog Pasha has in spades. (That’s her above, watching TV like the too-smart-for-her-britches border collie that she is.) She mostly uses her sunny, clever disposition to get treats from me, but it also has the benefit of instantly endearing her to complete strangers, like our FedEx guy (who also gives her treats).
For a small business, personality is the key to getting complete strangers to like and trust you enough to become regular customers and advocates for your brand. It’s kind of what marketing is all about.
This revelation about personality started when a lot of people responded very positively to the last email I sent out to our business community, a complete departure from the lack of feedback I had received before. The only difference? I introduced myself as the real human behind the newsletter and waxed poetic about my love for biscuits. In short, it had personality.
The change was the result of a few folks on our team, like our CEO Amara, who wanted to get away from the more anonymous communications and marketing style that we had found ourselves slipping into lately. While that tone might work for the big box stores who have to appeal to everyone from New York to Nevada, we realized that we small businesses don’t have to play that game.
In fact, many people in the Hudson Valley specifically go out of their way to find local businesses to support. And they way they figure out who has that local, authentic vibe? It’s typically through your marketing and communications channels like your social media, emails, and advertisements. Developing communications that have personality—and real people behind them—actually helps your current and prospective customers deepen their relationship with you because they can see more clearly what and who is really behind your business.
I’ve obviously been spending a lot of time thinking about how I can be more open and personable in everything I write for Chronogram Media, so I wanted to share a few of my tips with you. Below are four ways I’ve been adding personality to our marketing and communications.
1. Be intentional about your brand voice.
Brand voice is simply the way you communicate as your business to elicit certain emotions from those who are interacting with you. Your brand voice is made up of both the content you talk about and the specific words that you use, which can give your audience the vibe that your business is outdoorsy, artistic, enthusiastically nerdy, or wellness-focused.
Every communication you put out into the world is an opportunity to consciously craft your brand voice—from the footer copy that goes at the bottom of your emails to your “About” section on your website.
2. Write how you talk.
This is a big one. When most of us sit down to write something for work, there’s a strong impulse to clean everything up so it sounds professional. But think about the last time you received a form marketing letter from a business in the mail. Did it go directly into the trash? You almost certainly didn’t pin it to your fridge like a postcard from a close friend. Why? Because you know from the language the letter used that it wasn’t really talking to you specifically.
Using more casual, everyday language will make your communications feel more like they came from someone your customers know and trust. By breaking down that formality, you stand a better chance that what you have to say will be carefully read instead of thrown out or ignored.
3. Talk directly to your audience.
This one goes hand-in-hand with #2. When you communicate with your audience, engage them directly! Ask them questions when you send out an email or create your next Instagram post.
Think about who your target demographic is—what their challenges, dreams, and day-to-day lifestyle is like—then ask about or provide answers for those needs in your communications.
4. Tell your story.
Get ready to start shining a light on yourself and the people who work for you. After all, small businesses are simply made up of the people who started them and work there today. In a community like the Hudson Valley where supporting small businesses is a way of life, most people want to get to know the faces and stories behind the businesses they support.
To start sharing your own stories, you can post more on social media about the people who work for the business; build out your “About” section on your website and really get into the full history of your company; and use emails to go in-depth about the process behind your latest product launch or the reason why you’re opening up the business to a new direction. Whether it’s that last good book you read (for me it was Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower) or that show you love to binge (I’d recommend The Expanse), we’re all drawn to stories that inspire us and take us up close and personal with a part of the world we haven’t seen before. So don’t forget to tell your stories, too.