How can leaders and business owners authentically incorporate storytelling into their marketing through social media posts? What are some shared mindsets that successful and impactful leaders and speakers have? Are there some marketing mistakes that you can avoid on social media?
In this podcast episode, Sam Carvalho speaks with Seth Donlin about How to Be Vulnerable in Your Marketing.
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Meet Seth Donlin
Interpersonal and strategic communications expert Seth McM. Donlin helps entrepreneurs and high performing business and non-profit professionals improve their communication and leadership skills. A longtime student of the martial arts, a fan of mud runs and obstacle racing, a lover of books, video games and the Boston Red Sox, Seth lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and young daughter, who he is raising to one day be President of the United States … or owner of a really authentic Irish Pub. Either would be fine with him.
In This Podcast
- How leaders can build rapport with their audience and teams
- What mistakes do people make when trying to connect to their audience over social media?
- How can people incorporate storytelling into their social media posts?
- Key mindsets in speakers and leaders
- Seth’s advice to private practice owners
How Leaders Can Build Rapport With Their Audience and Teams
There are three main things a leader needs to keep in mind:
- Maintaining a service mindset – the job as the leader is to support the team, guide and encourage their development, instead of them fluffing up the leader’s ego.
- Practice active listening skills – being open to receiving feedback from the team. Trusting and listening to what people have to say.
- Leading communication and leadership with vulnerability – what people need is someone they can relate to. They must feel empowered to be their best selves by the space the leader creates. This is created by being open and vulnerable about mistakes and successes.
It’s not the leader’s job to be this champion, this mythical figure that can never do any wrong and always has all the answers and can never be defeated – people don’t relate to that because that’s just not realistic, that’s not human. (Seth)
What Marketing Mistakes Do People Make When Trying to Connect to Their Audience Over Social Media?
Being overly “professional” over social media: on a platform such as LinkedIn, even though it is a space for professionals to meet it does not have to be “professional” so much so that it is dry, no smiling, no friendliness.
If you look at what gets the best response on LinkedIn, it is when people loosen up a little bit. People want to do business with other people, they don’t want to do business with a faceless organization. They also don’t want to do business with some proper, never-puts-a-toe-out-of-line entity. (Seth)
Falling into a social rut with their content: when people get more authentic and more vulnerable with their audience and start connecting on an emotional level to the needs of their audience, they can build higher-quality content than simply working at a more surface level.
Within the world of private practice that is very real and evident because people are seeking out counseling because they are depressed or because they are dealing with some kind of emotional trauma. (Sam)
People respond to the honesty and the attempt that leaders make to trying to connect to the struggles that the audience or ideal client faces. When done in a respectful and authentic way, you can connect with your ideal client even before the counseling has started in this way.
How Can People Incorporate Storytelling Into Their Marketing Through Social Media Posts
- Take the plunge: accept that it is something you should do, even if it is a little scary to you.
- Understand that there is a difference between personal and private: not everything that is personal has to be kept private.
- Plan for it: you can prepare to be authentic because authentic means being who you are, and you can put effort and time into this.
When you are communicating with your audience you want to give them the best side of you. You don’t want to pretend to be someone that you’re not but you want to give them the best side of you and that takes preparation [because] we’re not always at our best. (Seth)
Key Mindsets in Speakers and Leaders
There is a willingness to try things and fail. Successful people have a growth mindset. Therefore, they see failure simply as another lesson that they can learn from, ultimately helping them become better leaders as they’re open to mistakes and gather wisdom from them.
They’re vulnerable in the sense that they give snippets of their lives and are vulnerable with their stories, with their struggles and they can draw on their experiences without feeling like they are losing face by being personal and authentic.
They have service mindsets and care for their audience and the teams that they lead. They take the focus off of themselves and direct the attention onto the needs of the audience that they are trying to serve.
Seth’s Advice to Private Practice Owners
It’s a huge world out there with a ton of people that really need your help and we all have something to give to the world. Maintain an abundance mindset.
- www.reachseth.com Book a no-charge consultation
Meet Sam Carvalho
Samantha Carvalho is a graphic designer with over six years of experience in both design and marketing. She loves working with a variety of clients on design-intensive tasks and is always up for a challenge!
Sam has been working with Practice of the Practice since 2016 and has helped over 100 therapist entrepreneurs take their practices to the next level by enhancing their visual branding.
Follow Sam on Instagram to see some of her work.
To work with Sam, head on over to www.practiceofthepractice.com/branding.
Thanks For Listening!
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Welcome to the Marketing a Practice podcast with me, Sam Carvalho where you’ll discover everything you need to know about marketing and branding your business. To find out more about how I can help you brand new business visit www.practiceofthepractice.com/branding. And if you’d like to see some examples of my design work, be sure to follow me on Instagram at Samantha Carvalho Design.
Hi there. Thanks so much for joining me today on the Marketing a Practice podcast. Today, we have Seth Donlin with us. Seth is the founder and principal strategist of Awen Coaching, a leadership and communications coaching practice, specializing in helping service-based businesses and sports and fitness professionals build their authority, expand the reach of their message and grow their business and income. Seth is a longtime student of mixed martial arts and traditional Japanese combat arts, an avid trail runner, an obstacle racing competitor, [inaudible 00:02:09] connoisseur, and a rapid fan of Boston Red Sox. A New Englander at heart, Seth now resides in beautiful Sonoma, California with his two fondling cats, the family dog, his awesome wife and his amazing young daughter who he is raising to one day become either president of the United States or owner of an authentic Irish pub. Hi Seth. Thanks so much for joining us today.
[SETH DONLIN] Hi Sam. Thanks for having me here on the show.
[SAM] So where’s it heading with your daughter? Does it look like she’s going to be president or owner of an Irish pub?
[SETH] I that’s a very good question. I think at this point it looks like she’s going to be like Robinhood or something like that. She’s very rebellious in nature. So I guess maybe leaning a little bit more towards the Irish pub than president.
[SAM] So Set, can you tell us a bit about your story and how you got to where you are now?
[SETH] Sure. I guess it all started while I was finishing undergrad and I actually had just been visiting your country. I’d spent three months mainly in Cape town, but I got up to Jo’burg and up into Kruger Park and visited the wine country and fluster. I came back from my three months of freelancing in South Africa and got an opportunity to partner up with some other people in their early twenties and we started a weekly, an alternative news weekly, free weekly newspaper focusing on like arts and entertainment and kind of art, culture, news for college age and post college age crowd. My partners and I worked in that business for a number of years until we finally sold it to a original publishing group and from there my main beat had been politics and social issues. I transitioned into electoral politics and government work, which eventually led me into advertising and marketing and led me to where I am today, where I have a marketing consulting firm and my communications and a marketing coaching practice.
[SAM] Awesome. So I know something that you speak into is leadership and also how people can kind of best communicate with their audiences. So can you speak a bit into how leaders can quickly build a real rapport with the audience or teams?
[SETH] Well, sure. I think that there’s three main things that a leader really needs to keep in mind. One primary is maintaining a service mindset. You know, it’s my firm belief that the best operators from the best leaders operate from that service mindset, which has them thinking, “Hey, the team’s not here to work for me. I’m here to actually work for the team.” My job as the leader is to support them, give them guidance and then get out of their way and let them do their job and come back in to smooth the road and support them. But I’m not here to like dictate down to them and have them puff my ego up and so on and so forth. So the first is that service mindset. That becomes very apparent. That communicates itself naturally to the rest of the team and makes the team trust you and want to work well with you.
The other thing is listening, active, listening skills, really being open to the feedback of your team members, trusting them, hiring good people who know what they’re doing, and then actually listening to them when they tell you what the company or what the team should be doing. And then the third thing is coming at your communications and coming at your leadership with a sense of vulnerability. It’s not the leader’s job to be this champion this mythical figure that can never do any wrong and always has all the answers and can never be defeated. People don’t relate to that because that’s just not realistic. It’s not human. And what people really do relate well to what will make them go the extra mile is when you communicate to them person to person, human to human. When you are honest about your shortcomings, and when you are honest about your mindset issues and your struggles in the past, it really serves to set an example that the team can be honest and human with each other and that causes the team to really bond together well.
[SAM] I think those are some great tips. And I think a lot of them are often overlooked and as you say people don’t necessarily think of service or vulnerability when it comes to leadership, but I think that can make the world a difference.
[SETH] Absolutely, absolutely. You know, it’s that problem that people have with the “soft skills,” and those soft skills are really in many ways the most important skills, particularly from a leader because the leader is there to bring the team together. And the leader doesn’t necessarily, the leader is not going to be the best engineer or the best finance person or the best anything. That leader is going to be there to get the best out of the team and getting the best out of that team requires a firm grasp of all of those so-called soft skills.
[SAM] Absolutely. So obviously in today’s day and age, social media is a massive part of marketing and communicating with people’s audiences. So what mistakes do you think that people make when they’re trying to connect with the audience on social media?
[SETH] Yes, there’s a couple of big ones and I guess it depends on what channel that you’re on. Let’s use LinkedIn is the first example. Obviously a lot of business people are on LinkedIn, and there’s still this idea amongst many people that LinkedIn is this, LinkedIn, because it’s a business platform means that it’s some kind of very dry, formal, starched collar environment and that one has to be “professional,” which means like no smiling. Just the facts. And in fact, when you look at what gets the best response on LinkedIn, it is when people loosen up a little bit. People want to do business with other people. They don’t want to do business with a faceless organization. They don’t want to do business with some proper, never puts a toe out of line entity.
So when people loosen up a little bit on LinkedIn and have a little bit of fun I think that’s when they start to get the best result. That’s when their audience really starts to connect to them. Because again, it’s a human to human, it’s a person to person thing. It’s social media. It’s not proper business media or something.
The other thing I think is that people don’t, on all channels in general, people tend to fall into a little bit of a rut with their social content. You know, let’s say speak to one of my main audiences, sport and fitness professionals. They’re very confident in their area of expertise and in their training and in their coaching of people. So you’ll see a lot of their content on a platform like Instagram, where it’s, “Hey, here’s me doing an exercise, or here’s one of my clients doing an exercise. This is the wrong way to do this exercise. This is the right way to do this exercise.” And that’s all well and fine. That’s good information to have I have, but every other personal trainer, running coach, whatever the case may be, is showing that exact same content in essentially the same way. There’s nothing to differentiate you. And what ends up differentiating people is when they, not to be a broken record, but when they get a little more authentic, when they get a little bit more vulnerable, when they start talking to the emotional needs of their clients, their fears, their desires.
Why is it that you want financial planning? What is it that you’re looking to do? Why is it that you want to buy that vacation home? Why is it that you’re looking to set aside money for your kid’s education? I mean, you’re looking to set aside money for your kid’s education. That’s a reason in and of itself, but below that is some kind of emotional reason. And this is not to say that you want to be plucking at the heartstrings and playing on people’s emotions, but you want to be engaging with them in the conversations that they’re having with themselves in their heads. And the conversations they’re having with themselves in their heads are emotion driven conversations and so you need to be injecting a little bit of that emotion lovingly and kindly, not manipulatively, but you need to be injecting that into your social media content mix.
[SAM] And I think obviously within the world of private practice, that’s very real and very evident because obviously people are seeking out counseling because they’re depressed or because they’re dealing with some kind of emotional trauma.
[SETH] Sure. And we shouldn’t we shouldn’t ignore that. I mean, I’ll tell you, honestly, other than when I occasionally put something up, like I put up a poll on LinkedIn last week that got the highest engagement of anything that I’ve ever done. And it was the question of if you won a free annual membership to the Avengers gym, which member of the Avengers would you want as your personal trainer? And it was a poll, so you could select the Hulk, Captain America, I can’t remember, Black Panther, Black Widow. And people just had a ball with that other than just fun stuff like that, which is it’s just, again, have fun with your network, but other than just purely fun stuff like that. By far the posts that get the greatest engagement time after time is whenever I open up about my past struggles and ongoing struggles with generalized anxiety and depression.
I don’t go into that to be like, oh, what was me? Here’s the struggle that I have. There’s always a lesson. I’m relaying those stories to tell a lesson. There’s a journey. Like I’m talking about how I triumphed and came out the other side, or I’m talking about like, “Hey, if you’re struggling with this, you can succeed. Look, I struggled with it and I’m succeeding.” There’s always some kind of story behind it, but it’s when I kind of get raw and open up about things like that like the posts go, probably a reach 5, 6, 7 times, not just my average posts reach, but like kind of my top performing posts, five or six times that even. So people really respond to that honesty, to that vulnerability and to us trying to talk to the struggles that are potential customers, that our clients, that our potential clients, that our audience in general are going through. Everybody’s going through something so we can talk to them about it.
[SAM] And I really like what you said about people wanting to do business with other people. And I think, again, it’s especially true within the counseling world because it is such a vulnerable and such a personal business. I know I’ve said this before, but clients want to get to know their therapist almost before they see them and want to know that they’re going to feel comfortable with them. And I think even just that Avengers posts, even just showing a bit of your personality and who you are, will already kind of make the client more comfortable in the process of going for counseling, because it is something that can be an uncomfortable process. So I think that that’s really cool.
[SETH] Yes, and the wonderful thing about letting your personality come through is, for some people, this is going to make them very uncomfortable. A lot of people don’t want to let their personal issues, whether they’re positive or negative. When I say issues, I don’t just mean struggles, but even they’re like triumphs, they don’t want to let their like personal story in their personality come through because they’re worried that it will turn some potential customer off. And I say, great. Absolutely. Turn those people off. If somebody thinks like, “OH my God, this guy’s a huge loser. He’s talking about the Avengers.” Good, go away. I don’t want to do business with you. I’ll take your money, but like, there are so many potential customers out there in the world for me that there’s no reason for me to do business with somebody that I’m not going to enjoy doing business with. So when I open up and show my personality, it’s both an opportunity to draw the people to me for whom that content resonates. But it’s also a way for me to kind of subtly push away those people that I probably would not gel with and I would probably not be the best coach for them because we’re not really going to connect at the deeper level that great coaching really demands.
[SAM] Absolutely. So obviously I think where it kind of falls in line with all of this is that we know now, or we’re starting to know that storytelling is a really effective way to market. And I think it kind of brings in everything that you’ve been saying about being vulnerable and kind of showing your personality. So for people that are a bit nervous on these platforms to kind of be vulnerable, how can they effectively incorporate storytelling into their social media posts or when advertising their business.
[SETH] Sorry, can you say that again, because I want to make sure I completely understood the question.
[SAM] So how can people effectively incorporate storytelling into their social media posts and their business?
[SETH] Well, I think that, I mean one, just take the plunge, accept that it’s something that you should do, even if it’s a little scary to you and do it. Just do it. Two, understand that there is a difference between personal and private. I like to say that the fact that I have a daughter and even in many instances, not all the time, but I’ll occasionally even mention her name, that’s a personal thing, but it’s not necessarily a private thing. I’m willing for you to know that. Now what school, my daughter’s only seven, what school she goes to that’s private. I’m not going to tell the public like who may have seen pictures of my cute little daughter on my social media feed, like what school yard she’s going to be playing.
That wouldn’t be safe. That’s a private thing. Similarly, my followers know, my network knows that I have a wife. That’s a personal thing. They know that I have a wife, they know who my wife is. I don’t feel the need to keep that private. Now what we do in the bedroom, that’s private. I’m not going to talk about that on my social media posts, my social media feeds. So there’s this difference between personal and private and not everything that’s personal need be private. Everybody gets to draw their line at their own comfort spot, but not everything that’s personal has to be kept private.
And then the third thing is you don’t plan for it. One of the things that I talk about a lot with my clients is preparing to be authentic, which seems kind of like oxymoronic or something. If you’re authentic, it must mean that you haven’t prepared. You’re just kind of like off the cuff or whatever, but that’s not necessarily the case being authentic means being who you are. And when you’re speaking to your, whether you’re up on stage speaking, or even if you’re just writing a 500 word social media post or something like that, when you are communicating with your audience, you want to give them the best side of you. You don’t want to pretend to be someone that you’re not, but you want to give them the best side of you. And that takes preparation. We’re not always at our best. And again, getting back to, what we said earlier about being vulnerable, that’s not to say that you’re not honest about the fact that some days you have off days or something, but you can be honest about the fact that you struggle, like myself with depression or anxiety or something.
But that doesn’t mean when I give a webinar that my clients want to see me like a rack on camera. That’s not what they’re paying for the webinar, but you know what I mean? That’s not what they’re paying me for. They’re not coming to watch me be less than like my best. So prepare for that. And in terms of story in social media, that means, think about what stories you have in your life that can, we all have great stories. I tell a story, it will sound silly for me to segue into this one, I’m talking about great stories, but I have a story that I use quite often as an example in webinars that I give and even short video clips. And it’s a story about going to the grocery store.
I mean, there’s a lot more going on, but the gist of the story is that I tell a story about going to the grocery store. There’s nothing more mundane than a story about going to the grocery store. It’s not some great adventure, but that story is a perfect example of the point that I’m trying to make. And it’s a real story from my life and people seem to really like it and they seem to really connect with it. So figure out those stories, have them in your pocket, know that you have three or four or five or something that you can go to when you need them and hone them Polish them, so that you’re not rambling all over the place. Keep it tight, trim it down so that you’re giving them the essence of the story. Then to get back to my first point, just go for it. Just have some competence, hold your nose and dive in with both feet.
[SAM] And I think what you said there is so great because you mentioned your grocery shop story and yes, it may not be a great adventure story, but it’s something that absolutely everybody can relate to because everybody needs to go to the grocery store at some stage. So I think that speaks again into how being vulnerable and sharing those stories about your life is only going to help you better relate to your audience.
[SETH] Yes. And in that story the funny thing is the way that I usually, I actually use it when I’m talking about, what we’re talking about right now about using stories in connecting with your audience and the power of story, the power of your life and the fact that you need to prepare to be authentic. So I talk about preparing to be authentic and I segue into this grocery story, and it’s about me going into the grocery store and late at night so it’s not particularly busy. And the clerks, it’s a little family-owned small chain, very, you know everybody in the city that I live in that shops at this place, they all know all the employees type of place.
So I go in there one night and long story short, the people working the checker and the bagger on two aisles, because it was dead and the four of them were just talking to each other, they all start saying, “Hey, you’re one of our favorite customers because you’re always in such a fantastic mood and your mood is contagious and you make us feel better when you come and chat with us and stuff like that.” So I walked out of the grocery store feeling absolutely amazing about myself, of course, but the point of that story and what I tell my audience is I’m like, but I don’t walk into that store in the best mood at all. When I go talk to the employees, I act as if I’m in the best mood, because they don’t need me at my worst or having a down day.
If I’m having a bad day, I don’t need to let that rub off on the people at the grocery store. So I don’t pretend to be someone I’m not, but I pretend to be me when I’m at my most confident, my most positive and my most cheery and I have an interaction with them. And I have them thinking that I’m always in a great mood. So that story is an example of how we need to prepare to be authentic and how we need to work on giving our audience our best self, giving our audience ourselves at a hundred percent. And then once I finished saying that, then I say, “And look what I just did. I just told a story to you, which hopefully you liked and hopefully you got the point of, but I just told you a story about going to the grocery store.” Again, there’s nothing more mundane than going to the grocery store. If you think you don’t have stories in your life, you’re dead wrong. You’ve been to the grocery store. You’ve done, like, you’ve got stories that you can tell too. If I can tell a grocery store story, there’s something you’ve done that you can tell a story about.
[SAM] Absolutely. So to kind of wrap up the session what would you say are some key mindsets that all effective, respected speakers and leaders have in common?
[SETH] Key mindsets, I would say that they have a willingness to try things and fail. Successful people have, I mean, it’s cliché by this point, we hear it all the time, but successful people have failed their way into success. You can’t let your perfectionism hold you back from trying to move forward and you can’t let your fear of failure keep you from bringing your talents to the world. So I think that’s one key mindset that willingness, I mean, it’s a willingness to be vulnerable, a willingness to put themselves out there, put themselves in a position where they could potentially fail.
The other one is again, being vulnerable in the sense of giving up themselves and giving snippets of their lives. I mean you go to any of the speakers that are getting paid tens and tens of thousands of US dollars to be on the speaking circuit and they’re all telling stories from their life. They’ve got stories from their childhood, they’ve got stories from when they started in business and so on and so forth. So they’re not being academic in what they’re speaking about.
The third thing I think is that service mindset. I think that really effective speakers, really effective leaders have that service mindset. We’ve spent the past year speaking just to camera and it’s not really any different when you’re speaking to the camera, but I like to talk about stepping out on the stage. When you step out onto the stage, new speakers tend to get really anxious because they see the audience looking at them and they think, “I’m the focus, all eyes are on me. Everybody’s like kind of, if I screw up they’re going to be kind of like internally laughing at me or whatever.” What they forget is that really they’re there to serve the audience. They’re not the focus of attention. The audience is the focus of attention because they’re there to focus on the audience and give the audience what they need.
The reality is that the people sitting in the audience, I mean, we all know this from our own personal experience, the people sitting in the audience are so caught up in their heads, their own stories, their own dramas, all of this other stuff that they are, very rarely are they sitting there focusing as closely on you as they probably should be and judging you because they’re too busy worrying about the last conversation that they had and did they make a fool of themselves. Or when they accidentally bumped their seat mate, did the person take offense or whatever is going on in their mind. So keep that service mindset, keep your focus on the audience and realize that that’s, the whole event is about the audience. The whole event is not about you as the speaker. The more you can keep that in mind the less that anxiety will grip you and the more you can really bring your best to.
[SAM] That’s awesome. And so if people wanted to get in touch with you, what is the best way for them to do that?
[SETH] They can, Instagram is my preferred platform. I am Seth [S E T H] Donlin, [D O N L I N] on Instagram, and if anybody, and I encourage them to do so, if anybody wants to have a talk with me to find out a little bit more about what I do, and if I can help them with their presentation skills, help them with their ability to their audience, you can book, no charge, no commitment conversation with me at www.reachseth.com.
[SAM] Perfect. And we’ll have all of that available in the show notes as well. And Seth, every private practice owner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know?
[SETH] If every private practice owner in the world were listening right now what would I want them to know? I would want them to know that, it’s a huge world out there with a ton of people that really need our help and that we all have something to give to the world. And so to keep a real abundance mindset, to realize that our “competitors” are not necessarily our competitors and that whenever we think that, whenever we miss closing one potential customer, there’s hundreds more essentially just like that person. And we just have to kind of get back up on the horse and go out there, be authentic, be giving and be vulnerable, and we’ll be drawing more people to us in no time at all.
[SAM] That’s great. Thanks so much Seth for everything that you’ve shared today and for being on the Marketing a Practice podcast.
[SETH] Oh, you’re welcome. Thanks again, so very much for having me. I had a great time
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Thanks for listening to the Marketing a Practice podcast. If you need help with branding your business, whether it be a new logo, rebrand, or you simply want some print flyer designed head on over to www.practiceofthepractice.com/branding. And if you’d like to see some examples of my design work, be sure to follow me on Instagram at Samantha Carvalho Design. Finally, please subscribe, rate, and review this podcast on iTunes if you like what you’ve heard. Talk to you soon.
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