Last year I had the pleasure of speaking to A-level and BTEC students about my marketing journey. Being a storyteller, this was the perfect gig for me so I sat down to write my talk.
Shit, I thought, as the reality sunk in. These aren’t professional marketeers I’m going to be talking to or business owners, they are children. Well, technically young adults but either way, they were a lot younger than me. They were also not choosing to come to my talk – they had to be there. What an earth could I have to say that was going to mean anything to them?
So I thought, what would I tell my clients to do? Well that’s easy. I would tell them if they use their own experiences, people will listen and that’s exactly what I did.
Speaking from the heart
Unlike the speaker before me, I didn’t talk in corporate terms. I didn’t say what I thought the teachers would want me to say. Neither did I say what I thought would make me ‘cool with the kids’. (Just by saying that goes to show how desperately un-cool I really am). I spoke from the heart. I shared stories about my passion for writing and my desire to help others. I also talked honestly about my failures and the important role they have played in my journey. Yes, this made me fairly vulnerable but without going there, I would have been a lot less believable.
Unleashing your authentic voice
Using your own voice with confidence may come naturally, and massive high fives if it does, but I know it’s not always that easy. So where do you start when it comes to developing your own voice?
Every business has a story. Start by asking yourself why you do what you do? Was it a passion or belief in something that you just couldn’t let go of? Maybe you identified a need not yet satisfied? Or maybe your business came about as a result of you facing a defining cross roads in your life? Whatever your why is, your customers want and need to hear about it.
People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it
If you haven’t heard of Simon Sinek and his now infamous TedTalk ‘The Power of Why’, check him out. I am ever so slightly obsessed with him. Sinek’s theory is people won’t truly buy into anything until they understand the why behind it.
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe”.
It’s that why that is your authentic voice – the most powerful marketing tool that you have.
What does this mean for your business?
By turning what your business stands for into marketing messaging you can connect more closely with your customers; engaging with their own emotional needs, wants and world views. It’s not complex, dark art stuff. Neither is it only available to those with marketing budgets to match the Kardashian’s salaries. It is inside all of us. Through some self development and a bit of structure, you can easily shift how you talk about your business from the what or how to the why. You can read more about how I can help you find your voice and tell your story here
I will leave you with the final bit of advice I gave to the students. Don’t be afraid of your voice. It is one of the greatest gifts you have so don’t squander it pretending to be someone you are not. If people don’t like what they hear – go and seek out those that do – they are your people.