Admitting Your Struggles Can Build Trust With Customers. Here's Why.

In today's digital world, companies have to maximize their weaknesses and convert them into strengths.

By Dr. Contrecia T. Tharpe

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Digital marketing created opportunities for brands to connect with consumers in a way that they never could before, yet it remains difficult for business owners to associate positivity with vulnerability despite multiple studies showing that is what consumers want the most.

Vulnerability, as defined by Oxford, is "the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally". The reward that comes with this risk never seemed to be on the same page...until now.

With the ever-growing usage of social media platforms, companies have an opportunity to create a transparent conversation. Relatability creates a bond that turns an infrequent supporter into a loyal brand ambassador.

Related: 5 Reasons Why Every Leader Should Run a Marathon

Digitally, we consume only the highs of the people that we follow and it paints a picture that success is easy. The perfect hair, the perfect pose, the perfect outfit, the perfect car, the perfect sunset, the perfect launch, the perfect strategy, etc.

But how often do we see the storm before the sunset? Vulnerability doesn't require a brand to pour alcohol on open wounds, but it does require informing the audience that the wounds are there.

Here's how to leverage relatability---while gaining the trust of your audience---when constructing your brand's message.

Define the emotion

Determine what it is that you want your audience to take away from the stories you are posting. Understanding exactly what you want your viewer to feel will help you message that particular emotion.

Remember, you are creating moments of vulnerability. Keep the words simple, descriptive and at the forefront of your strategy so it can drive the delivery. The process should be: A) draw in; B) connect; C) relate; D) establish solutions and E) call to action.

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Embrace the wounds

The most critical part of being vulnerable is embracing what was meant to hurt you. You first have to accept that the wounds exist, then share the wounds with your audience.

If you are a fitness trainer, this may be your battle with weight gain. If you are a restaurant owner, this may have been the brain freeze that occurs when developing new recipes. If you are a real estate agent, this may your battle with your credit score.

Identify past lumps and leverage them. Your troubles are not uncommon and you are not alone. Use the punches from your past to draw in your demo. Allow them to see themselves in what you went through. That scar gave way to a solution. Use it!

Bond on realism

Know that your audience may be overcome with doubt, assure them that it is normal and explain that you felt those same emotions at certain points in your story.

The resulting feelings of camaraderie will create allies as well as increase buy-ins.

Let them see that you aren't perfect even though your content shows some amazing things. Remember, it's not about pouring alcohol on an open wound, but bonding over the fact that the wound exists (or did).

Related: How the Customer Experience Affects Your Bottom Line

Disclose the journey

Your bio led you to the solution that you are offering. Explain why this journey mattered, what it helped you achieve and how you are confident that your offering will heal their perceived pain.

What good is sharing the highs if you don't disclose the rocky climb? This will allow your audience to create a realistic feel, emotion, trust and loyalty when it comes to your business.

Vulnerability can be very difficult. We want to seem put together, but the success of your content is found in the transparency of your struggles. Work to create a back story that captures, compels and converts.

Related: Mindset Hacks for Your Entrepreneurial Journey

Dr. Contrecia T. Tharpe

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

CEO of neuIMC

Dr. Contrecia Tharpe is a marketing, branding, and communications practitioner in Nashville. With over 12 years of experience, she has worked with national and international brands, businesses, and individuals in the non-profit, sports, entertainment, travel, small business, and education sectors.

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