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Why your personality matters
👉 and how to get it across
“People buy from people they know, like and trust”.
It’s probably one of the oldest cliches in marketing.
And honestly, it’s one I never used to pay much attention to. Especially the “like” bit.
Obviously, you need to know someone to buy from them. Duh.
And if you don’t trust them, you’re not going to part with your cash.
But do you need to like them? Really?
I always thought that for services where you’re going to be working personally with someone then liking is important - but not for products where you don’t.
I was wrong.
I used to tell myself that I bought online courses and tools based on what they did for me, not on who was selling them.
But looking back at my purchases, that’s only half true.
Because almost every purchase came after some kind of experience with the person behind the product.
At minimum from reading the sales copy for the product or watching a video. More usually after reading their emails over weeks, months or even years.
And in almost every case, I realised I liked the person in some way.
And quite often the reverse happened. I didn’t buy something because I felt there was something “off” about the person. Or more likely I quickly unsubscribed from their emails and never got near to buying.
So if people need to like you in some sense before they buy, how do you make that happen? And how do you do it in emails and newsletters - the primary way you’ll be talking to them online?
I can’t claim to know all the answers here, but from my experience here are a few things to think about that should help:
Firstly, trying to get people to like you by changing who you are rarely works.
Well, unless you’re an awful person. In which case changing who you are is a pretty good idea for other reasons :)
But on the assumption you’re a decent person, you’re better off trying to find and keep an audience of people who like the kind of person you already are.
And I believe the best way to do that is to surface who you are in your writing. To allow yourself to be you.
Face to face and to a large degree on video or even audio, your personality kind of seeps out. You can’t stop it.
But when we’re writing, most of us default to a style and tone that’s often quite bland. I certainly did early on.
Somehow it doesn’t feel quite right to express your feelings about a business topic. Or to admit you’re unsure about something. Or to throw in an observation you find funny.
That’s why if you read most newsletters you don’t really get a sense of who the writer is at all. Other than that they “know some stuff”.
And that means you never get to know if you actually like them. So the quality of their content and products alone have to do a lot of heavy lifting to get you ready to buy.
I’m absolutely sure that behind the scenes those writers aren’t bland at all. But we can only go on what we read.
Of course, me telling you to get your personality across in your writing is easily said. How do you do it?
It seems to me that successful content writers often have a signature style. A way of writing that’s recognisably them.
For example, some people write as outsiders. Mavericks challenging the status quo. Maybe they’re championing a cause, or a way of doing things. Their belief that their cause is right and the status quo is wrong comes across in their writing.
It’s not just “do X and get result Y”. It’s “We should do X, X is the right thing to do”.
Write like this and you’ll attract (and keep) a following of like-minded people who want to challenge the status quo too. And you’ll lose people who are happy with it (which is a good thing).
Others write as “serious experts”. Their advice is right and you should do what they say to get the results you want. They write confidently and without doubt - and they attract people who want certainty.
(You can probably tell this is not a style I enjoy reading, but it’s a very successful style. I suspect you need the confidence of youth to pull it off. By the time you get to my age you begin to realise not everything is black or white).
Some people are naturally charming and funny. If you have that wonderful gift in real life then for heaven’s sake let it come out in your writing too, even if your expertise is in a “boring” subject. Don’t feel as if you have to write in a dry, academic or businesslike style. There’s enough of that around from other people already.
Some people seem to be naturally angry. Their emails are filled with rants about bad customers or people they don’t agree with politically. Again not something I want to read, but it attracts an audience of people who feel the same way.
Some people write as “experienced friends”. Maybe a step or two ahead in their journey and sharing their experience - mistakes and all. This is the style I most appreciate reading these days and the one I try to write in.
Take a look around at how others inside and outside your field write. You’ll see these styles and many more I haven’t explored yet.
You may get inspiration. Or you may see that there’s a gap that fits with an aspect of your personality.
When I looked at the people who write about emails and newsletters, for example, most of them seemed to be either:
Young. Super confident (on the surface). But also seemingly needing to project an image of seriousness or coolness or of being hyper-successful.
Angry, cynical and ranty.
Neither of those is me, thankfully.
So I figured if I allowed my fun side to come out a bit more, continued to be positive rather than critical, and continued to share my experiences without pretending to have all the answers then that would find a niche of people who appreciated those aspects.
That’s why I updated my website to be rather less beautiful and corporatey and to feel a bit more fun. It’s why every email now has a cartoon or meme despite the fact I know too many images can hurt deliverability.
That’s not me trying to project an image because I think that’s what the market wants. It’s just letting a bit more of myself show and connecting better with people I like.
And it’s a journey, of course.
And the big question: are you going to allow yourself to be a bit more you in your emails? What’s the next step in your journey?
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