A large part of your small business “Secret Sauce” — or brand — gets conveyed through your personality.

It’s the unique flavor that only you can bring to the table. And it comes across in many ways — your voice, your style and your sense of humor.

When you interact with real-live human beings, your secret sauce is pretty front and center. Most of the time, people can “get” who you are after just a few brief conversations. They figure you out by interpreting your body language and other cues.

But online, things are a little different. When you’re trying to market your business, the tendency is toward professionalism and credibility. Or (gasp!) even trying to please everyone. So, many small business owners end up writing about their companies in a dry and generic way (yawn!)…and end up losing the interest of those who happen to stumble across their sites.

You definitely want to take every opportunity to get — and hold — your prospects’ attention.

So how do you move past the tendency to fit in and put the real you out there (while still sounding professional and credible)?

Here are 5 suggestions you can use now to make your online branding work:

  1. Talk your way through the copy. Take your existing copy and read it out loud to a friend. Does it sound natural? Does it sound like something you’d actually say? Make notes as you go, and add a more conversational tone to your writing — yours!  If you have a sense of humor, let us know. This will make you feel more human to those who read your content online.
  2. Add bits of your real life. You aren’t just a lawyer, or an accountant, or an architect. You’re a human being with a life outside of work. See if there are ways to mention some of those parts in your writing. Use your hobby or daily experiences as examples to illustrate a point or talk us through how to do something. If you love horses, use them in your stories! If you love to cook (like me), mix a little of that in, too. People like to know that they’re dealing with whole human beings, so don’t be a suit.
  3. Interact with your visitors. When people come over to your house, do you ignore them? Of course not! So why would you do that to folks who visit your website? Or your Facebook page? There’s no excuse these days for using a static website that only delivers information in one direction. The best way to encourage conversations is through a blog, or other social media tools. Ask people what they’d like from you and they’ll gladly tell you (and be happier for it, too!).
  4. Put a face with the name. At the very least, people need to see your smiling face. So get a professional photo taken and put it up on your About Us page. Be as creative with this as you feel comfortable. But at the very least, smile big and make eye contact with the camera. As humans, we like to interact with real people. And eye contact is a biggie.  Better yet: create a short video of yourself welcoming your visitors to the site and directing them to the various resources you have.  Videos are more likely to engage your visitors (if they’re short and sweet) and help convert visitors to real leads.
  5. Send ’em home happy. Goodies are the best. We love gifts and the act of receiving something thoughtfully chosen makes us feel special. Go back to who you are outside of work — how can you add some of YOU into your giveaways? Are you fond of wine tasting? Why not offer new clients a coupon for a bottle of your favorite wine? Whatever your talents and hobbies are, there is something that will make sense to bring forward and add to your site as an enticement to come back again later.

And even if you’re building a business that you hope will someday be bigger than you, you still need to add your personality. Humans don’t want to do business with a logo. They want to do business with a real person.

Have you done anything unique to add your secret sauce to your website and business? I’d love to hear from you — please add your comments to the end of this post and share! Or come visit with me on Facebook (I’ve got special treats over there just for our fans).