How It’s Consistency Not Authenticity That Brings People To You
Whilst it is important to present the ‘real you’ to the world, it is the ability to show up consistently that really matters.
The world recognises, nowadays, the importance of authentic, human voices, favouring them over contrived, corporate speak. It makes sense – the latest Edelman Trust Barometer highlights how it’s the voices of local businesses that enjoy the highest trust ratings.
But getting people to buy from you is about so much more than just being genuine in what you do. To become authentic in others’ eyes, you have to be consistent first. Consistency helps develop authenticity. It’s the commitment to showing up that really counts.
Seth Godin says, ‘Authenticity in marketing is telling a story people want to hear, and then making the story a reality.’ Being authentic means we are open, fallible, generous and imperfect. However, if you can’t deliver this on an ongoing basis, being authentic doesn’t really matter in the eyes, heads and hearts of other people.
Get moving first and then let authenticity find its place.
Where This Starts
During the monthly You Are The Media Online events, although I’m leading proceedings, introducing and interviewing guests, I’m very much on the audience’s side. The questions I ask are designed to never go over people’s heads and there are always 15 minutes at the end when people can address their own questions to our main guest.
One question I have found myself asking guests a few times now is this, “What would you advise someone who would like this year to be the year where they step up with their content creation efforts?”
Here is the answer from recent guest, Robert Rose.
Robert says, “Consistency is far and away the number one reason why content platforms succeed.” He explained that he and co-host Joe Pulizzi (another YATM Online guest) took a break for a year from their podcast, This Old Marketing. When they came back, they had lost a number of their audience. Now they are finding their groove again, more people are listening again.
You can’t break the expectations you set, without letting people know. If you change from weekly to fortnightly, that’s fine if you let your audience know. If you meander off into the distance and don’t tell anyone when you’ll be back, the time and effort you’d already invested, gets eroded.
So, from Robert’s experience, the most important thing when it comes to keeping and growing an audience isn’t the number of platforms or media you choose to be on, but being consistent and amazing on one of them first (be that, for example, email newsletter or podcast) and once that’s well established only then branching out somewhere else.
Be Consistent, Then Be Authentic
When you find consistency in your message and how you deliver it, you’re then giving yourself the space to shape an authentic voice over time.
Let me explain in this graph, where authenticity comes with time. You have to get the foundations in place first.
As Robert Rose says, ‘consistency, consistency, consistency,’ you have to be prepared to give yourself no excuses.
From this, you spend your time being focused on the one thing you know that you can get better at. It is easy to be led astray because everyone else is using any number of other platforms but having the discipline in one place can open the doors to more places at a later date. Have a look at this recent tweet from Joe Pulizzi that puts what Jeff Bezos did into context.
Being consistent and finding a rhythm with writing, audio or video helps you shape your authentic self and tell the story people want to hear. For instance, it has taken many years for me to shape my voice into something I’m comfortable with and is very much me. How I present myself online and offline are identical (at least, I’d like to think so). This has only come through weeks of sitting down and doing the work turning into years of doing the work. It didn’t happen from simply wanting to be authentic.
When I say it’s ‘taken years,’ from 2013 to 2015 I presumed people wanted general marketing themed topics – this was the area I worked in and this was how I thought I could present myself as knowledgeable.
In fact what I did, meant I was not differentiating myself and the content came with very little personality whatsoever. Introducing live events from 2016 onwards I found myself addressing the people in front of me and from that, I got more of an idea of the audience that was building up around me. Today, I like to think that YATM has earned its place in people’s weeks.
With ongoing commitment, your real authentic self comes through in time. It allows you to open up and when you are generous with your work it gives you freedom. I find it easier to make fun of myself (read here about creating anti content) as well as share my own insecurities. As Doug Kessler said at a YATM Online event in 2020, ‘vulnerability comes from confidence.’
Saying something from the heart that really represents who you are springs from that commitment and the more frequently you commit, the more likely people are to join you.
Five Consistency Tips
You need to get people to agree to engage and feel a part of the work you bring to them. Here is how you can build consistency into your work:
Don’t overwhelm yourself with the expectations you set.
The idea of sharing something weekly might feel daunting at the outset, but that’s only if you look at it in the grand scale of things. Sharing week by week, building that content habit over time will undoubtedly help.
Make a pact with yourself that you won’t stop.
You have to give your efforts a chance. It’s easy to look back at something you started, and did briefly, in 2018 and say it didn’t work. You have to stick with something and then be prepared to make alterations to your style and message. People give up too soon.
Look at your life as potential content.
Whatever is happening in your world, look at how it aligns with your overall message and values and then have an opinion or take a stance on it. For instance, this article started as an answer to a question from an online event.
Always capture your ideas.
If you don’t have a way to write down your ideas, you will continually lose them. You need to constantly be feeding your sources of inspiration so that when you want or need them they’re there, ready for you. Inspiration rarely strikes when you need it.
Make time to do it.
If you create when you are in a rush or near the deadline that you promised others, your work will never hit the mark. Relax when you do it (and turn off distractions). I always work a week in advance, some people I know build multiple articles, just to cover those times when they might be ill or lose their mojo.
Artist George Ferrandi said, “If you have to ask should I keep going? The answer is yes’ You discover the edges and corners of the work you’ve decided to do.”
Being authentic is when your message allows your audience to tell the story they want to share with others. This comes in time and goes hand in hand with making a commitment to whatever it is you are going to share.
Consistency enables you to build your audience – people love and appreciate the familiarity it builds. The longer you are present, the more ‘you’ you become. What you are doing is relating to others, meeting their expectations and making them feel a part of something by sharing aspects of yourself.
It’s rolling up your sleeves over and over again until you’re connecting with the right people, your people. You keep on doing it until you have made the space, and your voice, your own.