I am a fairly private person. It’s not that I have anything to hide, I just don’t like the idea of everyone knowing the baggage that I carry around. I think it is an image thing. I am afraid that if people knew the whole story, they would not respect me, or would think that my past experiences disqualify me from being the expert that I am today. Of course, this is an odd way of thinking because it is my past experiences that have prepared me to stand where I am today.
I think that a lot of us play this game. We hide our real selves in exchange for the person we think everyone else wants and expects us to be. Sure, we learn from our past; we accept that failure makes us stronger, but we don’t promote that imperfect part. We show only the good and sweep the rest under the rug, hoping the pile does not get big enough to create a noticeable bulge as people walk across our perfectly crafted life.
But what if imperfect is the new perfect? In a world with so little truth and so much sparkle and hype, what if simply being us in all our glorious imperfections made us great, a beacon of honesty and openness during a time in history where such a concept has become almost unrecognizable.
Today, people are craving authenticity. They want to know that it is still possible to rise from the ashes. People need a hero. Perhaps we can be that hero. Not because we have any great power, but because we have overcome the naysayers, jumped over the hurdles, tripped over the stump, and got back up to run with even more resolve. You’re still standing because you refused to give up, and that is a great story to tell.
Let your customers in. Believe it or not, people root for the underdog a lot more than we think. Tell your story: talk about how you got started, your motivation for creating the business, hurdles that you have had to overcome along the way and the plans you have for the future. Social Media and the Internet have changed the way that people interact with businesses. Customers want to know that there is a face, no, a heart and soul, behind the business.
So go ahead, pull back the rug a little and let some of the dust settle on the coffee table. Customers may keep coming back to you for a while because of the product or service you provide, but if you really want to create an advocate who will freely help you grow, you have to bring them into the fold. True customer loyalty (I am not talking about a rewards card here) is all about connecting with your customers on an emotional level. Let them know that they are partnered with you just as much as you are with them. Be the hero that stands in sincerity; be the person that others can look up to and believe in. Then, customers will follow you anywhere, because you have made them a part of your journey.