Living in the midst of the information revolution is transformative for small businesses and non-profit organizations.  Never before has a small enterprise had such access to research, data and best practices.  Once solely the territory of large corporations, we are able to nimbly design our practices and programs around the same frameworks that the Fortune 50 companies use.  But what if, by rushing to implement best practices, we forget to include our individuality in our marketing strategy?

be your authentic self in your marketing

Imagine driving down the street and seeing the same restaurant, over and over again.  Imagine walking through a neighborhood and seeing every garden with the same plants, in the same design.  Imagine strolling down a city street and seeing every person in the same clothes, from the same store.  Sure, we could have a world based on data.  But what a colorless world it would be. Sticking too close to best practices means leaving behind what makes your organization unique. 

Too many companies want their brand to reflect some idealized, perfected image of themselves. As a consequence, their brands acquire no texture, no character and no public trust.

Richard Branson

Base your strategy on data, but implement it with personality.

Every pendulum can swing too far in a direction. Sticking too close to best practices will result in an out-of-balance marketing strategy.  Your clients, potential employees and future donors want to know the depth you bring to your brand.  Let’s consider the ways you can weave your personality through your content marketing plan.

Places where your audience can learn more about you.

What is your origin story? 
Like the superhero you are, insert your origin story into your content.  A common place to discuss your organization’s background is your “About” page on your website, but you can cleverly use it to spice up all areas of your content.  Are there funny anecdotes from your early years as a company?  Was there a profound moment of inspiration you can reference?  Your audience will get a better appreciation for your dedication if they understand where it comes from.

What failure have you learned from?
It is impossible to run an organization without a stumble here and there.  It’s from those stumbles that leaders learn the most.  Discussing them in blog posts, social media references and anniversary celebrations will make your organization relatable and inspire others to trust you.

Write a Manifesto
As described by writer Jeff Goins, a manifesto is a perfect vehicle to capture your passion and how it informs your work.  It is a short, powerful statement that captures your motivations and goals.  It can be referenced at events, in emails, and makes a powerful statement in written proposals to potential partners and clients. Make sure you include every team member in its creation, not just your leaders.  If a manifesto comes from the entire organization, it will organically inspire all your content.

Include metaphors in your content.
Avoid the temptation to think your materials need to sound like a CPA manual.  Metaphors not only help explain your points better, your choice of metaphors can be illustrative of your perspective of the world around you.  While they should be used judiciously, be open to metaphorical quotes, photos and infographics as you seek to explain your business’s work to different audiences.

Spice up your elevator pitch
Elevator pitches run the risk of sounding like a string of marketing clichés.  When polishing it, add in colorful adjectives and phrases that build on your brand voice.  Elevator pitches are a powerful tool when you have to make a quick impression. Injecting your personality will make it all the more memorable.

Make your marketing multi-dimensional to increase its impact.

It is a noisy, busy and crowded world we operate in. It’s easy to get caught up in the pace. By slowing down and letting your audience know a bit more about you, they’ll look forward to engaging and learning even more.

About this photo: this lovely robot, made of vacuum cleaner parts, keeps watch outside of Vac Master in Bothell, WA.

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