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Personal Branding, Authenticity and Truth for Introverts

by Marcia Yudkin

Business Skills

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Published on this site: August 18th, 2011 - See more articles from this month

Not far from my home in rural Western Massachusetts, you can enjoy brunch on weekends at a farmhouse cafe constructed of straw bales. On one wall, Strawbale Cafe sports what it calls a "truth window": Pull open the window shutters to see for yourself that the walls of the building truly are constructed of highly compressed, nearly airtight, stacked bundles of straw.

When it comes to branding, some introverts shy away because they think it involves putting on an act or creating a big fuss over something ordinary. (Introverts are those who enjoy spending time alone, can’t be bothered with small talk and prefer to keep their personal life private.) Like Strawbale Cafe, however, you can be both unusual and honest in your self-presentation and, like them, even build in a "truth window."

Your "truth window" will be unique, of course – as you are. Here, though, are some ideas:

  • A narrative that explains convincingly how you got from there to here: You did not spring out into the world fully formed and able to do what you now do. Tell the story of how you discovered your talent, invented your item or developed your following. Even without documentary backup, the turns and twists in your tale substantiate your journey.

  • Piles of testimonials: Skeptical people might wonder whether one or two testimonials were faked. But when they read quote after quote about you, each expressed differently and shining a light on you or your product from different angles, you come across as undeniably real.

  • A video taking people behind the scenes: I'm thinking of those restaurants that do all the cooking where interested diners can watch. Their equivalent might be a video demonstrating the steps in what you do or showing a revealing snippet of you at work. I did a copywriting project earlier this year for a client featuring a video of a coaching session where in just minutes the coach led the client to surprising insights about herself. That video had the power of a hundred testimonials.

  • An event: Artists and craftspeople hold "open studios," which curious art lovers attend to get a sense of the process of creating artworks in the setting where they are made. Can you similarly invite people informally to your den of creativity? If your work is intangible, the equivalent might be an unscripted Q&A session where attendees get a sampling of how you think through a problem.

  • Third-party commentary: Authorities like university professors, medical doctors, government officials or journalists who attest that you can indeed do what you say you can carry a lot of weight. Most people believe such figures are not easily fooled by charlatans. Quoting them provides a kind of "truth window" from the outside looking in.

  • Photos, videos or documents that show you practice what you preach: If you're, let's say, a live-lightly-on-the-earth consultant, you could display how you calculated your carbon footprint. You could post photos of how much trash you send to the landfill every week or offer a video tour of the green energy retrofitting of your office.

  • Sharing of what you did on a typical day: This helps transform the abstraction of your work into a well-rounded reality. Pink magazine used to publish a two-page spread in each issue featuring the waking-up-through-bedding-down schedule of a highly successful woman. It created a fascinatingly full picture of the day-to-day reality of someone who was indubitably busy and productive.

For sizzlingly authentic personal branding, select one or more of the “truth window” ideas above as the final touch for your distinctive angle on life and work.

Jimmy Buffet fans generally believe he lives somewhere in the Florida Keys or the Caribbean, sipping Margaritas on the beach all day and partying every night. Although he did once revel in that lifestyle, Jimmy Buffet now spends most of his time in his office on Long Island in New York, running his entertainment and product empire around that hedonistic ambiance.

If you feel Buffet's image stretches the truth, you don't need to go that route. Attract attention for who you really are and what you stand for, then use your "truth windows" to turn interested customers into long-term clients.

Marcia Yudkin: A bookworm as a child, Marcia Yudkin grew up to discover she had a surprising talent for creative marketing. She’s the author of more than a dozen books, including 6 Steps to Free Publicity, now in its third edition, and Persuading People to Buy. She also mentors introverts so they discover their uniquely powerful branding and most comfortable marketing strategies.

To learn more about the strengths and preferences of introverts, download her free Marketing for Introverts audio manifesto: http://www.yudkin.com/introverts.htm

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