By Kathy Wilson
Trust is tough to gain, quick to lose. As a business owner every social media post, newsletter or product you put into the world should help your customers learn to trust - and value you. This is essential to your business success and I'm going to show you why. Let's start with a story to illustrate my point...
As you walk into the Real Fitness Centre, the first thing you notice is a slightly dog-eared black and white photograph. It is a candid snapshot of a smiling 70-something lady with dumbbells in both her hands.
Kim Johnston, who is the gym’s owner and a client of mine, tells me that this is a photograph of her first client Clara; her neighbour who used to suffer from weak knees and immense joint pain.
Clara had tried several fitness centres, and not one of them offered customised workouts that suited her age and fitness level. Because they were already friends, Kim knew that Clara couldn’t afford personalised training so they struck a deal. Kim helped her develop a workout that suited her needs – and Clara would provide Kim with all the Mango-chilli chutney could use.
“It was amazing chutney,” Kim laughs, “and even better, working with Clara gave me the confidence and the motivation of breaking into this niche segment of women’s fitness.”
This single story about Kim, tells me so much about her mission, her values and her motivations. It rings truer than the thousands of likes on her Facebook. Next time I want to recommend a fitness centre to a friend or family, I will think of Kim not only because she’s great at what she does but also because we seem to share the same values.
And that is the lesson for entrepreneurs who want to succeed online.
To work with you, I need to trust you. I need to relate to you. Unlike businesses that were run decades ago, we do not have the privilege of being in the same location or the facility of meeting each other face to face. The unknown face behind the computer and the public profile on social media although informs me of who you are, it doesn't tell me much about you. My reassurance of you comes from what I know about you and who I perceive you to be. Your story is your most powerful tool. Who are you? What do you believe it? Why should I trust you?
Leanne Faulkner, founder of Fortitude at Work, a mental health consultancy shares “ Be brave and tell your story honestly. I think failure has been my greatest success. If I hadn't really had that breakdown, which my husband calls a breakthrough, I wouldn't be advocating for mental health for small business owners”. She started Fortitude at Work, due to her personal battle with stress in running her first venture, which she had to let go of due to the stress and anxiety of running a business.
The vulnerability in her story makes her relatable and I would feel positive about reaching out to and working with Leanne. Knowing her motivations and her journey will help me to believe that she can truly make a difference to my situation. This is true not just for service based industries but product based as well.
After spending years in the corporate world, Emma, co-founder of Emma and Toms decided to start out on her own venture of fresh juices with the belief “In business, the relationships you develop are really important and treating people fairly and with respect is the way to have good business relationships”.
This is an entrepreneur whose philosophy I buy into and so I would love to buy her products as well. Now, telling your story isn’t always comfortable. But as soon as you enter the online arena a story is being told about you anyway through your posts and videos and updates. An impression is being formed, which can either build or take away from you trust quotient.
So tell me. What story are you telling online?
Kathy Wilson used the power of the internet storytelling to land her dream job as a travel writer. She now builds courses that show others the exact steps she followed to use the power of the online reputation to transform careers.