Building a Brand Through Authenticity
I recently decided to start selling Beauty Counter, which, if you know me, is so. not. me. The Beauty Counter part is on brand - it's the safest and most effective skincare, makeup, and body products on the market. I have been searching for the best nontoxic products all year, and I couldn't be happier to have found this company! But, the whole "multilevel marketing consultant" thing? Nope, not your girl.
To be clear, I've never judged anyone who has chosen network marketing as a primary or secondary source of income for their family. However, the bad rep of MLM companies is unfortunately well deserved, and I've experienced it first hand. The more my blog and following has grown, the more frequent are the requests and sales pitches from different consultants. You've seen it on Facebook:
Hey, you like this product, so you would definitely be into xyz!
I know you're a busy entrepreneur, but if you ever want a side gig...
JOIN MY TEAM AND YOUR LIFE WILL BE CHANGED!
You get the picture? These weird, sales-y tactics make me want to do one thing - run, hide, and potentially unfriend. I am a businesswoman, and I understand the value of making a sale. In fact, I even remember what it feels like to desperately need a sale, in the I-hope-I-can-pay-my-bills this month kind of way. But strategy is everything, and I believe that your strategy in every business opportunity comes down to one concept:
It may be a buzz word in the entrepreneurial community, but it is the biggest piece of the puzzle that people miss. I've often been told that I'm a good salesperson in my Pure Barre studio, but do you know why? I literally love Pure Barre. I worship the ground it walks on (in sticky socks). I once got a job offer for a sales position, a field in which I had no formal experience, because I had to pitch Pure Barre to my potential boss on the phone. The job I was applying for had nothing to do with Pure Barre, but my enthusiasm sealed the deal.
Now, maybe you're thinking, "Okay Griffin, you love your job. But what if I'm not passionate about my job and just need to make money?" I understand. We've all had to put our nose to the grindstone at some point and do the hard things. But if you're reading this, you're probably an aspiring entrepreneur or a career girl with a side dream, and you're looking for a way to get paid to do what you love. So, when it comes to building your long term career, aka your brand, you need to be selective.
Essentially, the people, companies, and products that you put your stamp of approval on comprise one of the largest parts of your brand identity. Choose carefully.
I have worked hard during the last 8 months to convert my blog, which has always been an outlet for my writing, into my brand. I've grown a following of people who are interested in business and healthy living. I've partnered with companies that I firmly believe in, which means saying no to the ones I do not. And, I've been careful to share my voice, and not somebody else's. If you watch my Instagram stories or read a post, it's always going to be honest because that is one of my core values, and it should be yours, too.
Too many people get sucked into the lie of being a "blogger". They hire a photographer, take some cool pictures in nature, and just post emotionless photos on their feed. Anybody can buy followers and likes, but an influencer uses their platform to share his or her voice. An influencer has a trusted audience, and they remain honest, so that when they share, their trusted circle buys in.
I don't care if your following is 200 or 200K - if you're honest, the right people will listen. You don't need a huge following to be a successful influencer, but you do need authenticity. To circle back to network marketing, far too many people buy into the lie of "signing up" without a real game plan or sphere of influence. And guess what? Your friends don't really want to be bombarded with your latest product, no matter how much they love you. If there isn't a product or company you believe in, no amount of network marketing is ever going to make you successful. I don't care how many Facebook obsessed consultants tell you otherwise.
However, if you believe in the product and it's true to your brand, that speaks volumes. I didn't sign up with Beauty Counter to make money, though that is always fun. I did it because I believe it's a natural addition to my brand. I love entrepreneurship, fitness (mostly Pure Barre), healthy eating, and clean living, and I believe other people need to know the truth about why these things are important. Finding a company that takes some of the work off my shoulders by having great products is just a bonus.
If you're trying to be an entrepreneur, an influencer, or a network marketing queen, make sure it's you, and not just who you think you need to be. When you really believe in your products, selling will just feel like a conversation, which is all it was ever designed to be.