How Telling The Truth Is Good For Your Business
Creating truthful content, content that not only tells it like it is but stays true to what you believe in, is how you get people to stick with you.
Being ok with sharing your battle scars and telling the truth, is important. This doesn’t mean bragging about failures that miraculously lead to success but about being honest with yourself and others about the challenges you have faced.
Adopting this approach will go in your favour as so very few people are prepared to do this – tell the whole, unvarnished truth. After all, if you can’t find a way to share your narrative, who will?
Sharing The Proof Of This With You
At the last You Are The Media Lunch Club a couple of weeks back, Gordon Fong shared the ‘Worst Business Entrepreneur Presentation, Ever.’ It was not about how to grow your business nor was it a humble brag about business success or achieving results in the quickest possible time. It was an honest appraisal of Gordon’s business journey, from setting out, to where he is today.
Filled with moments of deep emotional resonance, Gordon received a standing ovation at the end.
The crux of his talk was the importance, in business and in our personal lives, of having a place that’s home. He talked about how, when you feel settled, included, respected and a part of something, things start to click around you. The importance of this stood in stark contrast to his experiences growing up in 1980s Sunderland, against a backdrop of racism and exclusion.
Everything Gordon shared told his truth. He told it like it was. He wasn’t there to impress or win people round. It was Gordon prepared to be open with every single person in the room.
Figuring Out The Truth & How You Can Do It
Sharing the truth is about stepping forward with a commitment to full disclosure, an open heart and being ok with not necessarily having all the answers. It’s a powerful differentiator that’s only ever open to you.
For me, it’s why it feels comfortable to write to my audience every week. I personally know a good many of those in my audience and they know me, so I feel a responsibility to be telling my truth. It works by being in tune with what’s happening around you and framing it to fit your belief system and how it relates to your business.
When it comes to sharing the truth, the majority of what I share with you is structured like this.
FACT – this is something that you cannot deviate from. It allows you set the scene and reaffirm a point. For instance, Gordon spent his childhood in Sunderland surrounded by racism.
EXPERIENCE – this is something that you have faced that you know is related to your perspective. This is pertinent to you and your evidence. For instance, Gordon became involved in a lot of community activity over the years within his neighbourhood, this helped him become known by others.
OPINION – the facts allow you to make a judgment based on the experiences you have had. For instance, by coming to feel included and a part of something, Gordon recognised the importance for each and every one of us to have somewhere to call home.
When you take on board this fact, experience and opinion perspective on your work what happens is that you reaffirm your voice and are able to draw on what’s around you, rather than taking what has already been said.
When it comes to the factual side, telling it like it is, is essential.
The June 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer: In Brands We Trust report, shows people easily see through those companies that are taking a stance on societal issues solely as a means of selling more product (the survey population was 16k people in eight countries, including the UK).
The study also recognised that 53% of respondents believe that every brand has a responsibility to get involved in at least one social issue that does not directly impact its business.
Whilst a company may have noble intentions, are they telling the truth? When the activity is just based around a campaign and not happening for real, the gap between message and true intention soon become apparent.
This is what puts small businesses into such a strong position vis a vis larger brands. People recognise when a deeper message is just part of a campaign, rather than the real thing, so they switch off. This means you have every reason to share what you have to say, from your heart. It is better to share the obstacles that are in your way and demonstrate that you’re trying to figure things out, rather than copy from another business that’s already found out the answer.
What Does The Truth Get You?
When you share a narrative from your perspective, there is a definite return for you.
This part is leaning into the ‘opinion’ section of what I mentioned earlier.
This is what telling it like it is, gets you:
It scares people off.
Being prepared to choose a side and not play “middle-of-the-road safe,” will bring people closer to you, but also detract others. That’s ok, if you were here to be everyone’s friend, you’d be doing something lower risk like selling chocolate bars.
People recognise it’s right for them.
Whilst the weekly You Are The Media email will always get unsubscribers, the unsubscribe rate is very low. This is because people recognise when something’s relatable (and hopefully useful) to them. What you create has to be right for someone else. This gives you firm foundations to build on.
Others trust your advice.
If you can share from your perspective, where you’ve had to figure out the answers for yourself in full view of everyone else then you become believable to others. When people step forward and ask something of you, they already know they are asking the right person.
It makes you interesting.
If you share a message that aligns with your marketplace but has your stamp on it, it’s something that becomes intriguing to others. If you can tell the truth and how it is for you whilst others are just regurgitating what’s already been said by countless others, then you will stand tall and stand out.
You become unshackled.
It’s important to push the boundaries back for what you can, and cannot say, as it opens up conversations. The people in your audience recognise themselves in your honesty. As long as what you share is not derogatory towards others, and it’s something you believe in, it’s a great way to get others standing shoulder to shoulder with you.
Telling the truth is about helping people and showing the unvarnished reality of the world we all live in. It should never be co-opted as a way of just boasting about your achievements.
We all have a duty to create factual content that is built on a believable framework of fact, experience and opinion.
When you write or broadcast, telling it like it is, can become such a strong way to distinguish who you are and what you stand for.
When these values tie in with your business, this becomes a powerful approach to adopt.