I met with Rocky Roark, a local illustrator in San Diego yesterday (here is a link to his work, enjoy!). As we conversed over Topo Chico and coconut cream iced tea, marketing came up. Rocky has over 40k followers on Instagram and he was shocked I had not made use of the platform for business. It's done a lot of good for him financially. Despite his success, it's still not going to be a part of my life anytime soon.
Here's why: I believe that platforms like Instagram and Facebook have made human social interaction harder and less authentic. The evidence for this is staggering suicide rates and anecdotal tales of the platforms being used to showcase what we wish our life was like rather than connecting with people. It's a mechanism that has propelled isolation and narcissism to heights we could not have anticipated.
I do not like those things. Not everyone, especially not Rocky, uses those platforms that way, but the evidence is overwhelmingly clear that loneliness and depression have skyrocketed parallel to the rise of social media. The thing is, people like Rocky are the exception and not the rule when it comes to those platforms.
I believe the world would be better if those platforms were used less. Granted, my view isn't going to change the fact that millions of people use them everyday, but it doesn't matter. I still believe that to be true. This doesn't mean I have a distaste for people who use the platform. I don't drink alcohol either, but have no problem with anyone who does. It's simply not for me. I'd rather drive to three networking events per week, meet 5 people, and spend 45 minutes talking with each one of them.
Here's the thing:
Have some conviction. If you feel strongly about something, don't let the expectations of others change that. Stand up for it. Defend your thinking. Be a champion for something different. Be a rebel.
It's common practice for business owners to take great pride in their craft and their industry. I know this all too well, as I love being a designer and creating things. But, it's not the most important part of my business. Far from it actually. If it was, I'd be out of a job as websites like Fiverr and Upwork can beat me on price, they will give more options, and they are accessible 24/7.
Thankfully, people buy on emotion. Buying is a method of joining a tribe, what you buy says something about who you are. Think about it. If I buy a Tesla, it says something different about me than if I bought a Ford Mustang. It's a car, they have the same function, but there is a different sense of meaning established by joining either of those tribes.
All this to say, when people buy from your company, what are they saying about themselves? A couple things:
They believe what you believe and they are cool being associated with you. More succinctly, they are buying YOU. Not what you do, not because you're cheap, not because you're stronger, faster, better, they are buying from you because they connect with YOU emotionally.
That is what matters the most. You. Everything about you. All of your quirks, your experiences, your dreams, your vision, all of those things that construct you are what they buy.
Who you are matters most. You do the world a disservice in trying to be something you're not.
It's hard to understand how some fads become established. Across all levels of business, I've seen a formulaic headline being used in ads, on websites, and anywhere else copy is used.
It goes something along the lines of this:
"Our (insert service/product here), your (insert benefit here)."
Most recently, I saw it in a Hootsuite ad that stated "Our social media tool, your success," to provide a concrete example.
There is something about this that feels off. Partly because it feels like I'm being lead by a carrot on a stick. Use our tool and all of your dreams will come true, they say. The thing is that no one actually believes these kind of statements because they know the real meaning behind them is sales. No one likes to be sold to, it seems needy.
What makes this distaste for a "salesy" ad even greater is when it's used over and over again in the form of a cliché. Think about it, how many times have you seen an ad that touted a similar phrase?
"Our team, your peace of mind."
"Our social media tool, your success."
"Our burgers, your satisfaction."
The list goes on and on and on, and for what? In the hopes that someone is going to feel something from a plug-and-play slogan, they've heard four times in the same day?
This phrase is for companies that don't have anything better to say or the courage to be authentic. Don't let that be you.