Authenticity As A Multiplier
Everyone wants the “automated” business…the idea of trotting off to some exotic location while getting paid or making money while you sleep. Who doesn’t want that, right?
Unfortunately…most find that it’s not as easy as it sounds. There’s NEVER a specific method or formula that will always get you there. (I don’t care HOW many ebooks promise otherwise) If it was that easy…everyone would be doing it, right?
Still, it isn’t a total pipe dream…plenty of others have done it successfully.
So…the odds are against us, but we know it IS possible and it’s something
all most of us want, right? How can we improve those odds? Push them closer to our favor?
Stop being anonymous and start being authentic! – Click Here To Tweet This!
Authenticity and anonymity don’t mix well. Sure, you CAN share openly and honestly under a fake name, fake Facebook/LinkedIn profile, etc…but there’s an automatic distrust that comes along with that type of trickery. It may also prove difficult to maintain that honesty when things are NOT going as well. Sure, it’s easy to be open, public, and honest when things are going great…but what about when you make mistakes? What about when you screw things up? Being anonymous can make the temptation to fudge things that much stronger and that much more difficult to resist.
I’m a bit of a whore at the Roulette wheel. (I know, I know…Craps and Pai Gow would be way better games to blow my money on…not to mention poker…but stick with me a minute!)
For those unfamiliar with the game, there are 38 colored numbers. (18 are black, 18 are red, and 2 are green) You can bet on black or red, the dealer will spin the ball, and the color it lands on wins. If you bet on black or red, you’ll double your bet approximately 47% of the time. On average (and over a long period of time) you’ll lose your money due to a “house edge” of approximately 5%.
It’s not a great game for the player…but what if instead of instead of winning 100% of your bet, you were able to win 120% with a bet on black or red? 150%? I’d be spending A LOT of time at the casino! Those small improvements to the winnings (20%, 50%, etc.) would tip the game in your favor!
Well…those are the EXACT types of improvements you can realize in business through being real, open, and authentic with your customers, partners, and audience. Wonder why we’re often sold out of sites? Why we get multiples others don’t usually get on Flippa?
- We respond to almost EVERY comment, email, and tweet
- We link to our (real) LinkedIn profiles in our Flippa auctions
- We share our successes and our failures in income reports, blog posts, etc.
- We meet up in “real” life with readers, listeners, and customers…many of whom we would now consider friends!
- Our sites often sell for twice as much as other niche AdSense sites (Ok…not related to authenticity only…but it’s our authenticity that lends a voice to the legitimacy and quality of our sites as opposed to so many other sellers)
- We’re often “out of stock” on our BuyOurSites page
- We’ve made some amazing connections and deals with people who’ve reached out to us via email, Twitter, etc.
- We’re taken seriously when we reach out to others for interviews, advice, etc.
Please don’t get me wrong here…having a good idea, a valuable product, positioning your brand and your business, determining the right niche, executing successfully on your idea, etc…these are still critical to having a successful business. What I’m trying to point out is this:
Authenticity can expand an established business and determine success/failure for high-value projects. Click To Tweet!
Actual Monetary Value
“Ah…well I don’t sell niche sites so this doesn’t apply” you might be thinking. How might this apply to YOUR business? Consider what the following might do for you:
- An XX% cut in your refund/return rates on your info product, ebook, training program, or affiliate sales.
- Recurring customers staying an additional X months, adding XX% to the Life Time Value of a customer.
- A price increase of XX% without a drop in sales
- A XX% increase in email subscribers, their purchase rates, or keeping them on your list X more months, on average
The best part? These gains aren’t mutually exclusive. Seeing an increase across the board could skyrocket the value of your business and/or cross the threshold between failure and success on a particular project.
Another Real-Life Example
Joe and I are both involved in an online membership group. There was a recent discussion on Quora from someone asking whether it’s worthwhile…worth the membership fee. It’s a legitimate question, of course. I think Brittany was right in her questioning some of the replies…but you’ll notice from the other members that joined in they’re almost scoffing at the OP for asking. It’s not that they meant to be rude…it’s just that, from the inside, it seems silly.
We’ve traveled SE Asia to hang out with some of the other members, had some of them stop by Davao to spend a few days with us, become online and “real life” friends, and have collaborated or given/taken advice on multiple projects. Price of admission? $97 every three months.
The truth is we could probably be members for free if we asked…but we WANT to pay. We’re HAPPY to pay. We feel like we’re getting away with something and should be paying MORE. How long will we continue to be paying members? Well
forever forever’s a pretty long time, but I can’t see why we would leave.
Do your members or recurring customers feel that way? Are you wondering how you can get them to stick around an extra 2 or 3 months? Wondering if people would still sign up if you raised your prices?
The way to see those kinds of gains is to provide real value and make real connections…and it all starts with being authentic.
Is Authenticity Required?
Being authentic isn’t necessarily required for a business to be successful, but it sure as shit helps.
Consider our outsourcing company, TryBPO. We’ve put some pretty lame/horrible content on the site, have a more “corporate” feel and we were STILL able to make the business a success. (Mostly due to outsourcing as an emerging industry, leveraging our connections and our USP of having Americans on the ground here in the Philippines)
Still…how much MORE successful would we have been if we would have been real…if we would have been authentic? Consider Chris Ducker and his Virtual Business Lifestyle (VBL) brand. Sure, he’s had a few years on us to grow his business…but he’s positioned himself as THE authority for outsourcing to the Philippines and has been KILLING IT in recent years.
Probably…making real connections with people can take a ton of time, effort, and energy. It takes time to respond to individual emails, money to fly around the world to meet up with people, etc. Whenever I start to whine/bitch/moan about it I think about Gary V individually replying to everyone, Mark Cuban sitting at his desk emailing people back, and Derek Sivers sending his personal email out over Twitter…who the hell am I to complain?
Oh, and let’s not forget about the grandfather of lifestyle design, Tim Ferriss. You may not get much more than an auto-responder email back if you email him today, but don’t forget about him hustling his ASS off for years on his businesses or flying around like a madman to make connections that would help him sell his book. 4-Hour Workweek, indeed… :-)
But I run a “professional” business…
Alright, so maybe you can’t totally let loose in every aspect. Still…you can probably get away with (and appreciated for) a lot more than you think. Check out the email sent out when you purchase from CD Baby or the email I got when I signed up for Shopify:
Sometimes it’s really just the little things and putting yourself out there that can make all the difference!
Wrapping It Up
I have quite a bit more to say about being authentic including how to apply this to your business, how to spot those who are faking it, etc. but I thought it better to make this point first and hear your feedback!
Credit for the title and inspiration for the idea goes to Derek Sivers and his post on ideas as a multiplier of execution. (If you haven’t read that post, I HIGHLY recommend clicking through to check it out…really good stuff there!)
Now…over to you! What are your thoughts on authenticity? Is it a valuable business philosophy or a cheap marketing trick? How could YOU be more authentic in your approach to business, online or otherwise? Let us know in the comments below or give us a shout on Twitter!