Developing a Persona is Sculpture, not Casting


headCompanies and individuals are often overzealous in the protection of their brand or persona online. The old school of marketing taught us that everything about our brand had to speak to perfection… and that perfection was what sold. We had perfect logos, perfect packaging and perfect slogans to go with them. The old school of marketing often disappointed, too, though. Once we unwrapped and used the product, we would often be discouraged. It's no wonder why people don't trust marketing.

In attacking their online presence, the old habits haven't died. Companies freak out when there's a pixel out of place… or worse, and employee runs amok. An owner of an agency told me on Facebook about a week ago if his employees ever insulted someone in a tweet, he'd fire them. That sets the bar pretty high… at perfection. I hope that both of us agree that perfection is unattainable. I don't want to do business with that agency I spoke of online because he lost credibility with me instantly. I can't work with someone like that because I make mistakes all the time. It's the fear of failing that often stops people from pressing forward and actually succeeding.

Imperfection is one of the hallmarks of transparency… which is what social media folks continue to preach. If there's a pixel out of place on your site, I understand! I have quite a few myself – and with a handful of operating systems and dozens of browsers, the goal of perfection is, again, not attainable. If you say something embarrassing – it's okay – I have to. If you make a mistake – God knows that I have, too!

Developing your online persona isn't about casting an image of one's self or its company and then putting the perfect replica out online for display. It's about your image being a true reflection of one's self – along with its flaws and mistakes. I often bludgeon the rules of grammar on this blog along with misspelling the simplest of words. When it's brought to my attention, I simply go back and correct it. That's what's great about this stuff… we can mold it into the shape we'd like it to be.

If you're driving your graphic designers, developers, marketers and PR folks nuts trying to get everything perfect, you're doing more damage than good. First of all, people want to work with people they like. No one likes a perfectionist. Second of all, the delays that you're injecting are more of a detriment to your progress than had you pushed forward with flaws aplenty. The exception of course is the giant gaff that's going to do permanent damage to your reputation. Even those cases are rare, though.

When you're take a step out in front of others, there's not as much competition. To take advantage of today's economy, today's culture and the speed at which we are advancing, you simply have to get off your butt and charge forward. Between the bull and the China shop, the Bull will win every time.

Don't try to cast your perfect persona online. Instead, throw some mud out there and start molding it into the shape you want. Over time, the shape will become clearer. Over time, people will learn to know and trust you. Over time, people will buy from you. Over time, you'll have a great following. Some of us have figured that out. The ones that haven't are being left in the dirt.

Be fearless. Be fast. Be agile enough to fix it as you go.

What do you think?

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