"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~ Dr. Seuss
In April, I did a teleseminar called "Don't Be Dorky, Be YOU!" which was about how to write interesting, relevant and non-cheesy content for your self-promotional material. During that seminar, I talked about the wisdom of being "transparent" to your audience; specifically, whether or not you should you share your personal beliefs and interests with your audience if those beliefs are at all controversial or subject to debate.
I used the rather obvious examples of *religion and politics. If you are a person of faith, should you make that clear in your personal marketing (whether that's your blog, your Facebook page, your website, your personal brochure and/or your SOI communications)? If you have strong political leanings, is it appropriate to publicly share those from time to time when current events seem to call for it?
During the seminar, I said yes - it is appropriate, within reason. I explained that even though you take the risk of alienating some of your audience, you also maximize the chances that your candor will attract like-minded people with whom you will probably enjoy working. And even if someone doesn't agree wholeheartedly with your opinion, you'll still stand out among the crowd as simply being more interesting than most of your competition who is determined to play it safe and hang out in the middle of the aisle.
Brilliant stuff, Jennifer, if she does say so herself.
Well, last week, I had the opportunity to put my money where my mouth was. I sent out an email to my entire **mailing list, and, without giving it much thought, referenced a recent controversial blog I'd written.
Well, sorta oops. The responses poured in, literally hundreds of them within a few hours. The majority of responses were supportive, even effusive. Neato.
But some were... shall we say... less so.
A handful of my (now former) readers blasted me for my opinion, and a percentage promptly unsubscribed from my mailing list and my Active Rain blog.
At first, I was shaken. I was hurt. I was mad at myself for carelessly risking the support of my readership. I berated myself for hours for being so stupid as to be that transparent with my precious mailing list. I didn't sleep much that night.
But somewhere in the middle of that sleepless night, I had an epiphany. While my transparency did indeed alienate a portion of my audience, it also solidified the support of a much larger portion of that audience, and also attracted dozens of new readers into my world.
I must confess that in my initial moments of panic, I considered apologizing, backing off my stance and returning to the middle of the aisle where it's much safer. But I didn't and I'm at peace with that decision.
Are you considering being more transparent in your self-promotion? If so, good for you! But be warned that it may take the wind out of your sails the first few times (actually, every time) someone nastily asks to be removed from your mailing list, and you may very well lose audience members. But be assured that there IS a loyal and supportive audience for your viewpoint (unless it's really wacky or creepy, LOL); one that will love you even more once they've discovered your common ground!
*See Post #44 for other, less-divisive examples of opportunities to be "transparent."
** If you'd like to join my mailing list so you can receive my sometimes-not-thought-all-the-way-through ramblings, just do that on my home page www.sellwithsoul.com.