08 Feb

Sincerity

I caught the tail end of the TV news, earlier. David Cameron was addressing a conference, but I’m not sure where, or what it was about.
However, what I did notice is the number of things politicians do in an attempt to convey sincerity (ironically, this very often has the opposite effect). In this instance, David Cameron was using his hands to put emphasis on certain words, nodding his head / leaning forward, and putting stresses on certain syllables – all in an effort to show conviction in what he was saying, and sincerity in the words he was using.

However, in the case of the written word – perhaps your website content or your marketing brochure – there are no opportunities to nod to your audience, use hand gestures, or put stresses on certain syllables (you could litter your copy/content with words in bold, but that would look tacky).
So how do you convey sincerity with your written content?

I can think of a few ways, so here goes…

1. Show fallibility.
No-one believes your company became an overnight success, and it would be silly to try to convince them otherwise. If you have an ‘About’ page, or ‘Our History’, tout your earlier failures or ‘learning curve’ incidents, as well as your successes. You could even show how your later success came from the initial mistakes you made. If told in a warm, anecdotal style, the stories of your earlier failures could make potential clients warm to you as much as anything else.

2. Don’t try to be ‘jack of all trades’.
Tell people about the services your company offers, but don’t make that list so extensive that it borders on ridiculous, and don’t stray into areas that you ‘just about cover’. I can create rough concepts on Photoshop and Indesign, but would I add ‘art direction’ or ‘design’ to my list of services? Hell no.
I’ve worked on social media campaigns, but would I throw ‘social media management’ into my skill set? Nope.
Admit¬† – and talk up – how good you are in certain areas, but also admit to your limitations. It’s better to be brilliant at X, Y, and Z, than pretend you’re okay at A, B, C, D, E, F, G.

3. Tangible examples beat generics.
If you have a portfolio of work, or a series of case studies, it’s better to talk about the specifics of a project – what you helped a client to achieve, and the difficulties you had to overcome – than ‘We created this. The client was happy with the outcome’.
I’m about to take the very advice I’m giving. My portfolio just shows what I’ve done, who for, and which sectors I’ve worked in. None of the case studies talk about the problem(s) I helped the client to solve, why they came to me in the first place, or how I can prove I did what was asked of me.

4. Detailed testimonials win.
If you’re going to use testimonials, use ones that actually say something about what it’s like to work with your organisation.
Testimonials like ‘They did a great job. I’m so happy. I’d definitely recommend [insert company name]’ say absolutely nothing about your company. In fact, they could be written by anyone (even a friend) about any company.
Sincerity shines through in (again) the specifics: a testimonial which says what type of client is talking (what industry they work in), the date they contacted you, why they contacted you, the exact issue they had, how you solved that issue, why they’d use you over A.N Other company who do the same thing.

5. Don’t baffle your audience.
If you’re a B2B company, you may have to ‘talk the talk’ to those who ‘get’ (or even enjoy) your industry babble, but, by and large, it’s better to communicate clearly than talk in terms. After all, what’s the point in saying something on your website, if clients have to then call you up and have it explained to them in the simple terms you should’ve used in the first place?
This may just be me, but as soon as I see too many industry terms, or the overuse of words such as ‘strategise’ or ‘convergence’, I just think; ‘What have you got to hide? Why can’t you talk to me in a normal way?’

Anyway, that’s me done. There are many more ways to come across with sincerity, but the five I’ve listed are the ones that stick out. Let me know if you think I’ve missed any off the list, or if you disagree with my choices.

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