In today’s episode, Jeff Elder, an expert in inbound marketing, returns to talk about authenticity and the use of

storytelling and brand development. He will also talk about considerations one must make when looking at the website itself.

The first point Jeff makes is the importance of just being oneself, including both the positive and the negative. In other words, stop pretending to be perfect.

For example, he inadvertently had deleted his website, and he ended up using that as a learning experience to identify issues that were getting in the way which he needed to address in order to get back on track. There were various technical considerations that went along with the problem, but the important point was, Jeff decided to own the responsibility for the mistake that had occurred. Why is this important? People connect with honesty.

Honesty promotes trust, and trust is extremely important in developing one’s business. This is critical, because there’s a constant battle to develop one’s business in a highly competitive environment. Since consumers are careful and do more research now, trust is critical to get them to consider your product.

One of the best ways to develop trust is through storytelling. People don’t care about how great you are. They need authenticity. Tell a story, but underneath it all, have the story be their story. Doing this causes the prospective client to go, “Wow. You really understand me.”

The story paints a picture of where your audience is. The goal is, tell your story in a way that’s actually telling the client’s story. You want the client to say, “This content was really written just for me.”

In addition to the website, being honest with regards to storytelling spills over into social media, where you just want to be yourself. When it comes to your story, there’s two options. You can outsource it and have someone manage your account for you, or you can do it yourself. If you generally want to be authentic, it’s better to do it yourself, because your passion will infuse the social media posts, something that cannot be outsourced.

Jeff tells his story as to the medical battles he fought from birth, in which he overcame to get to where he is today as an inbound marketer. He’s learned to focus on being authentic.

In terms of practical application, the vulnerability component means you want to let the client inside your business, rather than trying to sell them. Jeff uses the metaphor of imagining someone on a very first date, asking the date to marry them. That would be extremely off-putting. That’s what happens when we try to sell people from the very beginning. What’s better is to just show them who you are and see if you have anything of interest to them. This is what inbound marketing is all about.

The discussion turned to brand. When it comes to your brand and managing your brand, you need to decide what impact you want to have. For example, the impact Jeff wants to have is, “I want business owners to succeed.”

In combining the concept of brand with storytelling, there are three components. In the story, you want to frame it so that the client is the hero, the problem is the villain, and your company and what your company offers is the catalyst that will help the hero succeed. Success, then, becomes a breakthrough. For example, one may be stuck, but they can be determined to break through and make things happen, telling themselves “I can do this.” It’s this drive for authentic behavior that motivates people.

Jeff tells a story about when he revealed the trauma he experienced from birth, where he was expected to die, let alone be able to speak, and how he worked forward today to where he’s a marketing expert. He relates how after telling the story someone who was very sales oriented came up to him and asked, “So how much do you think your sales are going to increase because you told your story?” The stark insensitivity of this question shows how wrongheaded the selling approach is. It’s all about authenticity and taking action and bringing it into business.

Now, it is important to be prepared that when you choose to be vulnerable, there will be people that will tend to attack, much like the salesperson asking Jeff, “Well, how much business do you think you’re going to get by having told your story?” What supersedes that is the reality that by being authentic and being vulnerable and knowing your business and being disciplined, that will lead you to become a thought leader. People follow thought leaders. You attract your clients. You don’t tell them what to do.

If you’re having a hard time trying to figure out what your story is, simply get a sheet of paper and start writing about yourself. Write your biography from as early as you can remember, and notice where your strengths are and that about which you are quite good. Once you’ve written the story, look for the components that overlap with your business, and now you’re prepared to start writing your story in a way that your prospective clients will resonate with. All this leads to the importance of avoiding compartmentalizing your life. Just be who you are wherever you go. Bring that frame of mind into your storytelling.

Once you’ve done the above-mentioned writing, pick someone to read your “About Page,” someone who would be an ideal client, and look for their feedback. In fact, see if you can find several people to read your story if it relates to business, and get their feedback and see how you can incorporate it to improve your ability to display your authenticity, your willingness to be vulnerable, and the discipline that you bring to your business that will help your prospective clients.

You can reach Jeff at:

or in Instagram at jeldera

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