Who Are You? How To Define Your Online Persona

Aristotle understood the secret to online marketing long before there was an Internet.
Follow Aristotle’s advice, and your business will be on its way toward having an impressive online persona.

Over 2500 years ago, Aristotle proclaimed that if they don’t like you and trust you, nothing you say will convince them. Back then, hardly anyone could read or write, so people had to do their “arguing” in front of a crowd. Therefore, if they had not previously established their reputation with a likable, trustworthy persona, they wound up losing the argument before they’d uttered the first word.

Isn’t it amazing that before Jesus, Aristotle knew the basic rules of marketing? Wow!

He was talking about Ethos, of course, one of his three classical appeals.

Established Credibility (Ethos) = More Customers

Next, he must use logic and evidence to back up his claims (logos) and finally, he must bring it home with a little emotion (pathos). With too much logic and no emotion, you lose your audience. With too much emotion and no evidence to back it up, you turn into a raving lunatic and—lose your audience. And with no credibility, no one listens to you at all, and so (you guessed it) you lose your audience.

Today I’d like to talk about the power of Ethos to build your online persona. To attract new customers and to retain existing ones, a business must have a recognizable persona or culture that clearly establishes its credibility. And that includes online. It’s not enough to have a fantastic product or service: if everything about you – your personality, your face-to-face presence, your business card, your logo, your website, your blog – does not flow together to create one consistent persona, your potential audience will not “get” who you are. They may not trust you, and so your credibility points go down.

So how do you establish your online persona? By transferring the foundational beliefs of your company to your online presence through the website’s primary pages, the design, and the marketing content. Everything you put out there must point toward your brand.

Imagine if someone were taking a road-trip. They begin their journey by using road signs to get to the destination. One sign points North, another West, and another doesn’t even have a primary direction but instead gives the miles to the location. Can you imagine the confusion? I can see the traveler saying, “To Hell with these signs. I’m using my GPS.”

Make sure your audience knows the purpose and direction of your website.
Is your website’s message difficult to understand?

You want the potential customer to stay on your site, not to navigate somewhere else out of frustration and confusion. So I will ask: Is your online presence working for you, or against you?

Test the Effectiveness of Your Online Persona:

  1. First, think about your business. What has it accomplished thus far? As quickly as you can, jot down all the great things your business provides. (These are basic claims that you hope will establish your business credibility.)
  2. Second, explain why those “great things” are GREAT. What makes your product or service any better than someone else’s? (This serves as evidence for your claims. Remember, without evidence (logos) the audience will be less likely to believe your claims.
  3. Third – and this might be harder – think about the fundamental belief systems of your business. If you are the president, then this might be easier because you are in charge and control your corporate persona. If you are a marketer or sales person, it might be a little trickier. Often, a core belief can be seen in a company tagline or logo. It should also be conveyed in the blog, in the website’s “about” page, and in the corporate language of the site.

The corporate belief system is the glue that keeps customers with you for the duration.

When customers feel like they share a common belief system with you, they will have faith in you, remain loyal to you, and want to give you their business.

Think about it: who are your true friends? They are the ones who share the same core beliefs that you do! Good customers are the same, so if you are not sure what your company stands for, I would focus on #3-4 very carefully.

  1. Review both lists. Now, do a compare/contrast: is everything you just wrote down clearly conveyed on your corporate website where traffic can easily see it? (Remember, the clearer it is, the better your chances of converting a visitor into a customer.)
  2. To complete a thorough compare/contrast, read through your website three times: the first time, read it quickly and see if you get a “feel” for your company’s accomplishments, strengths, and belief system. If you do not recognize the “it” factor right away, determine which part of the site (primary pages, blog) needs repurposing. Next, skim through the blog posts for congruency. Do the blogs seem to fit with the corporate identity? If the website’s testimonial page is filled with an impressive cache of satisfied customers, but the blog is not well-written or does not offer an equally impressive message, then the “congruency” is off.
  3. Finally, review your lists again and then go through the site and determine what is missing. By that, I mean what item(s) on your list is not apparent on the site?
  4. Last, work on repurposing (rewriting with focus) your website and blog so that the ethos, logos, and pathos – your overall business persona – is clear with every page, post, and link. Please let me know in the comments what you found when you read through your own website.

Click here for help repurposing your business website.



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