There has been a major shift in how people buy things and relate to companies in the past 3 years and this trend is brilliant for small business. The trend is away from "buying a brand" to "buying the person behind the brand".
We have been disillusioned by big business so now we are looking to know the faces behind the names of the brand. We want to know their personalities, what makes them tick and can we trust them to do what they say they will.
Some indicators of this trend are the shift in ads on TV. Gone are the ads promoting a company Woolworths the Fresh Food People to be replaced with ads showing core Woolies employees showing their expertise with fruit by showing weekly information about new seasons fruit and vegies. Bunnings shows their employees talking in their words about their company. Even the banks are cashing in showing their tellers in social settings.
Other indicators are the growth in reality TV programs - love them or loath them they reflect a societal trend towards wanting to know what makes people tick.
This trend has also shifted into writing. Gone are the boring web pages or brochures with "we try harder". People expect more. They want to know more. They want to know what it will be like to work with you.
This means you need to go back through all of your writing ... all of your webpages ... all of your letters and brochures. Do the words you are currently using reflect you and your personality? Do they let your customers a glimpse of the person behind the product? If you read them and had to describe the personality of the business what would you describe it as?
Here are my top 5 tips to put personality back into your writing.
1. Identify the person behind the brand. You need to work out who is going to be the person profiled behind the brand. Generally it is the Managing Director for small companies ... but not always. Do some digging to find out interesting facts about them, what they think about or what they believe in. Use these facts in your writing to help people identify your brand.
2. Get a warm approachable photo. All stuffy studio shots need to be instantly binned. Look for ones that show the personality of the person.
3. Write as you speak. One of the things good copywriters do when we talk with clients is to listen to how the person talks. We pick up sentence flows, words the clients commonly use, phrasing and common sayings. We weave their way of speaking into the writing so we are writing with their voice. This means that people get a strong sense of the person and the product and there is no disconnect between the words they read and the words they hear when they go to the business.
4. Tell stories. Parables and stories are some of the most powerful psychological tools available. Many top psychologists through history would only tell stories, or part of stories and allow the mind to work to fill in the blanks as part of their therapeutic approach (Milton Erickson was one of the masters of this strategy).
Learn from psychologists and weave in hero stories, plotlines and metaphors into your words. In small business the story can be as simple as how you first discovered a particular product and why you like it - just tell it as a story.
5. Insert emotion. Personality is messy, complex and full of contrasts. Emotion is a big part of what makes up personality. The old way to write was to wring all of the juice out of your words to make them dry, academic and clinical. Now you need to put the juice back in - you are not "happy to introduce a new product", you are "jumping out of your skin excited to bring this brilliant new product to your customers".
Your email sign-off should not be "regards" or "yours sincerely". Your sign off should reflect your personality and should be an indicator of what you are like to work with.
The best part of writing with personality is it feels like all straight-jackets have been removed. You no longer are stuck trying to fit yourself into a narrow box of "acceptable".
Allow your personality to shine through and people will naturally flock to you. Yes, you may also turn away some customers who don't identify with you - but the even better news is that they were usually the customers you had problems with.
By allowing yourself to shine you naturally attract people aligned to you and your message which is great for you and great for your business.