In a conversation this week with one of my clients, we were discussing social media topics. We always pick a monthly theme to focus on. As we were reviewing all the upcoming topics we had planned, she asked, “Have we done anything on vulnerability?” My interest level suddenly piqued. Ooh, I love the topic of vulnerability! My client is a leadership and team development coach and I’m guessing vulnerability often shows up as something people are somewhat afraid of in the workforce. Yet it is so necessary for us, as human beings, to embrace that at the heart of vulnerability, is the permission we crave to be 100% ourselves.
But what does it look like to be vulnerable in our marketing?
Even as a huge proponent of vulnerability, I still question how honest I should be in my marketing. Yet I know it works. If I am completely honest, the individuals I love to follow have mastered the art of vulnerability in their marketing. It is their authenticity, their humanness and their ability to be raw that draws me in.
But is there a “right” or “wrong” way to be vulnerable in marketing? I don’t know if it’s really about right or wrong, as much as it is what feels comfortable for you and your audience. Here are some random thoughts I have about vulnerability in marketing. Pick what resonates with you.
Thought #1 – The world is craving vulnerability
I don’t care how people show up on the outside. At the core of who we are is our humanness. And all humans were born with feelings and a heart. It is only the conditioning over time that has made it more difficult for some people to connect to the heart and feelings. Yet if we are honest, it is the stories of personal adversity and inspiration that open our hearts. These are the stories that go viral. Why? Because the vulnerability it takes to share these stories is what connects us all as human beings. These stories remind us we are all the same on some level. They give us encouragement, hope, and touch our hearts.
So don’t be afraid to share your personal stories in your marketing. The people you are destined to work with will relate and connect to you.
Thought #2 – Never be anyone but yourself – 100%
There is so much noise and people vying for attention in the online marketing space. It can be easy to get sucked into comparing yourself, in an effort to stand out. But what if we just committed to just being ourselves – 100%? Who cares what anyone else is doing? Who cares what works for others? Just be you.
One of my clients recently lost touch with herself. In an effort to grow her business, she got too caught up in what her competition was doing. To reconnect with her authentic self, she stopped following all the people whom she was comparing herself to. Because in reality, she is completely different than her competition. She is truly unique.
We all are unique in our own way. Part of being vulnerable is having the courage to be who we are – to think the way we think, feel the way we feel, and do what feels right for us. It requires us to overcome our fear of being judged, rejected, or failing. Being vulnerable means we “show up” in this world with no guards shielding us from our authentic nature.
When you are yourself in your marketing, your messaging will resonate with all the right people. Speak from your heart. Tell the truth when you teach – your truth. Be willing to express your feelings and thoughts, even when people may disagree. Let your uniqueness shine through.
Thought #3 – Share your failures and pain
I’m sorry but I am so sick of hearing about all these business people that tout how they’ve built a 7-figure business from nothing. Their marketing makes it look so easy. Why? Because many don’t share the blood, sweat, and tears it took to get where they are. I’m guessing if they told you how difficult it really is, you wouldn’t buy their services and courses.
But you know what? There are experts out there that do both – built a financially strong business and shared the failures and pain along the way. Brendon Burchard does a great job with this. I love his story. It’s real. It’s honest. He shares so many stories about the failures and the pain he has been through over the course of his entrepreneurial life.
One of my former clients had a life story that many would not want to go through. But her story of triumphing over her past is heroic. She is vulnerable, honest, and unafraid to share her pain and failures. She once had a marketing “expert” tell her not to share her personal story because it will hurt her business. I call bullshit on this. There will be plenty of people that will relate to her pain and more importantly the hope she gives to others that change is possible.
While you may not want to focus solely on all your pain and struggles, letting people know you are human, and not a “superhero,” may just connect you to the everyday “real” people in this world.
Thought #4 – Let people inside your personal life
On my website, there are all kinds of fun facts about me, and also some controversial things as well:
- I am a black belt in Taekwondo
- My obsession with having beautifully designed nails that match the season or holiday
- I love puzzles and am currently working on a beautiful one of Paris, France
- I am a gay woman (GASP! You shouldn’t share that!)
- I celebrate diversity and even get angry at the racism and inequalities in this world. (I am married to a wonderful black woman so you can bet I get hypersensitive to this topic.)
How much of your personal life are you sharing in your marketing? If I visit your website or your social communities, will I know who you are personally? Or will I just learn all the business stuff about you?
I want to know you on a personal level. If I can’t relate to you personally on some level, I am likely not going to do business with you. What values shape your life? Do you have kids? Do you love dogs or cats? What do you like to do in your free time? What are your pet peeves? Tell me who you are as a human being.
I’m gonna be 100% honest with you. If I can’t be friends with my clients, it normally won’t work out. Life is too short for all these stuffy business relationships. I don’t have to be the best of friends with everyone, but please allow me inside your life. Let me know you are just like me – a human being with both a personal and business life. And I also know that lots of people will disagree with me – and I’m okay with that too. The right people will agree and embrace who I am.
Thought #5 – Don’t let vulnerability get out of control.
In my humble opinion, some people go too far with being vulnerable. There is a time and place for vulnerability. There is a level of vulnerability that will work and also a level that won’t. You have to find that balance. It’s called boundaries.
I am as open as they come, but even I am not going to share every little detail of my personal or business life. And I will be selective about who I share with, and what I share. I will share more with my team than I will with my clients. I will share more with my clients than I will with the public.
And I will never get so raw with the public that I scare people. When it comes down to it, everyone has a different tolerance level for vulnerability. We were all taught different beliefs about what vulnerability means, how and when it should be expressed, etc. So I think we have to be sensitive to the fact that each of us is in a different place on this subject. And it’s okay.
So be thoughtful. Be respectful. Practice healthy boundaries. At the same time, if you or I don’t do our part to share our vulnerability in the world, the world will never evolve past where we’re at right now.
Bottom line. Is it okay to use vulnerability in your marketing? I think it is. The world needs you to show up as you 100%, share your stories of pain and humanness, and let people into your personal life. Only then can we see our similarities instead of our differences. And these similarities will connect us all together.
Lori Young is the founder and chief marketing specialist at Amazing OBM – a boutique content marketing agency dedicated to heart-centered entrepreneurs focused on personal transformation. For more information on our services, visit www.amazingobm.com.
Random Thoughts About Using Vulnerability in Your Marketing
February 11, 2020