Have you ever been told to “get real?” According to the urban dictionary, “When someone tells you to get real, they want you to get a reality check and to stop behaving as though you’re living in a fantasy world.” Envision for a moment “get real” rolling off the lips of a surely teen just told to clean the bathroom and retrieve a month’s supply of spoons and bowls currently residing in their bedroom. You get the idea.
From a business perspective, being real means you have personality. You are comfortable with your imperfections. Frankly imperfections are what make us personable.
This great insight came out in conversation with Ron Tite, CEO of The Tite Group, and a marketing guru I had the good fortune to meet at a recent convention in Edmonton. Ron is all about creativity and insights around the brand experience.
Great brands have personality. They are comfortable with their imperfections. Imperfections are what make us personable. People want to see the unedited version, up close, imperfect and real.
“Unedited is what social media offers
when others speak for your business
or brand and not you.”
Unedited is about trusting that process to happen, and occasionally being exposed on purpose. It’s about comfort with vulnerability.
Donald Trump is unedited, imperfect and real. So was Rob Ford. While both characters ruffled establishment and had less then stellar personal qualities, they were seen as real, if not raw. I suppose real can escape the box on occasion.
On my recent trip to Edmonton I flew Westjet. Rather then making the standard pre-boarding announcement, they said, “If you’re heading to the washroom, let us know. We won’t leave without you”. It sounded like something your friend would say, not a corporation. It’s a minor thing, but it all adds to the overall voice of the company, which has remained remarkably personable and accessible through growth from domestic carrier roots. Again in Edmonton, I watched a fellow speaker, Vince Poscentre a seasoned speaking professional and former Olympic athlete deliver a riveting opening to his talk, where he literally transported us to the top of a ski hill moments before his run for gold. It’s an opening he has no doubt delivered countless times. It was brilliant, and absolutely perfect. But it was later, when he was working through new content, specifically for our audience of colleagues that he stumbled a little. It wasn’t a big deal, but it wasn’t slick, and it immediately made him more personable and accessible. Despite the amazing line up of other speakers throughout the weekend, Vince is the one that really touched my heart. He was comfortable with vulnerability. He was real.
Another example was great initiative out of France a couple years ago to sell ugly fruit and vegetables – the “Inglorious fruits and vegetable campaign.” (I’ve used some of their fruit and vegetable imagery above). A global study had revealed that 1/3 of all food produced gets wasted each year. And much of that waste was simply because it wasn’t pretty enough. So the campaign embarked on getting people to buy double-pronged carrots, elegantly morphed eggplants and incompletely formed lemons. It was hugely successful simply because it cleverly drew to our attention that being real, and less then perfect, still tasted good.
If you’re interested in learning more about the “Inglorious fruits and vegetables” campaign check out this link.
While I love the cleverness of the campaign, it’s the invitation to consider how powerful being real can be in your marketing efforts that excites me. That was the take away from my conversation with Ron Tite. When you are clear on what it is you do, what you stand for, how you are different without apology, and you tell and sell that message truthfully, you’re left with something pretty authentic.
What might being real look like in your business? Perhaps it’s acknowledging when a customer is right in a public space on social media. Maybe it’s about trusting your employees with the Twitter handle. Or maybe it’s about making something right after a screw up and NOT trying to turn it into a marketing opportunity. You get the idea. It’s really about being human and decent to others.
I think it would be refreshing to see businesses dump some of the boastful marketing, and just show up the way they really are, being personable and knowledgeable. That’s the approach I’ve taken for the last three years in this blog and my weekly e-newsletter, sharing and engaging. For those who have been here weekly for some time, I thank you for your loyalty and continued readership. And if you’re not currently part of that group, but would like to join in, you can sign up for my weekly 5-Minute Marketing Tips newsletter, right here.
So what do you do, to BE REAL in your business? I’d love it if you’d take a few moments and share in the comments below. And if you feel like sharing even more, do you have any tips for getting a teenager to clean their room?