How To Spot An Online Phony From A Mile Away

A word of warning before I begin.

The following post gets REAL. On the surface, it may not seem much to do with Branding, but it has EVERYTHING to do with Branding. So pour a glass of wine, nestle in under the doona, because girlfriend we're about to have a real Elle chat!!! (The kind that only my closest gal-pals usually hear me ranting through!). 

Oh, and I might just mention that when I get hyped up (let's just call it 'passionate') about a certain topic - some adult language usually finds it's way out of my mouth. Don't say you weren't warned.

I'm a little bit tired of the internet, I have to be honest. I'm even tired a bit of the whole Branding game. Why? Not because I don't love what I do - I REALLY REALLY DO!

I'm tired of it, because I'm tired of people acting in business like they think they 'should'. Branding themselves the way they think they should. Offering services because they think they SHOULD.... It shits me to say the least, that they're going around building a business (and what they think is a brand) based on the latest trends or what everyone else is doing.


Over the past few months, I've been noticing more and more of this. And woman, it has my knickers in a seriously knotted mess!!!

I've tried to ignore it. I've tried to keep quiet. I've tried to be all like, 'Hey sister, you do your thing and I'll do mine". But I just can't shut up about this any longer, because I see vulnerable women in business being taken for a ride. 

So, here's my 'from personal experience' guide to hopefully stop you from getting ripped off and help you start to be able to identify the genuine from the not-so-quite. 

1. She switches up her 'area of expertise' more than her hairstyle.

She's been rocking the Jennifer Aniston (or insert other celebrity look-alike here) hairstyle for a while now because it looks good on her. She knows that it frames her face in just the right way that makes her cheekbones look more prominent and her forehead not so large. She knows what works for her, and she's sticking with what she knows. GOOD ON HER!!! Every woman deserves to look and feel amazing.

But when it comes to her business, she can't decide what's right! She's got a little bit of this, and a little bit of that going on. One blog post is about Healthy living, the next about building an empire and then she's talking about sustainable travel. Not to mention her services are all over the place. You can hire her for practically anything under the sun - she'll even come and fix your kitchen sink if you'll pay her enough.

Unfortunately for her though, whilst some clients might be wow'd by her know-it-all persona, most of them will just leave confused and bewildered as to what she is actually selling. The worst part is, is that when her clients that she's been trying to nourish meaningful relationships with are finally ready to commit, she's moved onto the next big thing and is now claiming to be an expert on that! 

TAKE AWAY TIP FOR YOUR BUSINESS:  Fine tune what you want to be known for, and stick to it. Make all your products and services align with this VIP Premium Offer, and anything else goes on the Shiny Object list.

2. She preaches from the pulpit, but doesn't walk the talk.

Ever had a friend that you just wish would take a piece of their own medicine? They're the first to jump in and offer you advice, but when it comes to a very similar situation won't think twice about their very own suggestion.

I've personally been battling with a similar experience for months now.

You see, I'd committed to working with someone who has a larger following then mine, a seemingly larger client base and was 'more ahead in business' than I. I believed, when I first started working with her, that we had the same fundamental belief systems about business and marketing. 

We believed in being genuine. We believed in lifting others up. We believed in women getting paid for what they're worth. (Can I get an AMEN SISTER!)

On the surface, this was what she preached. 

As we began to work together, I started to wonder whether I had misunderstood her message. Maybe I had been confused about what she was really saying. 

Nope. I wasn't.

As a brief example, I was reading something that she'd written to her tribe about being paid what you're worth and how she refused to work for free (and good on her!! I agree!). BUT THEN... She turned around and asked me to discount my charges.

She preached about supporting your sisters-in-business by building referral systems, but her actions in private did not reflect this.

She was telling the world that she was one thing, and clearly didn't realise that she was acting like something totally the opposite.

In a nutshell, her actions contradicted her words. She was a phony and I wanted nothing to do with it.

TAKE AWAY TIP FOR YOUR BUSINESS: Act from a place of genuine authenticity. If you don't feel it, don't say it. When you're sharing your knowledge, spreading your message or creating your business - do so from a place that you know is real to you and then you'll always know that you're attracting the perfect people into your brand.

3. Her Facebook group is thriving. Her business is not.

I loooooooooooove Facebook groups. I have met soo many gorgeous people through Facebook groups, and have serious respect for the women who run powerful loved-up Facebook communities. Seriously, you fucking rock. THANK YOU.

But before you get sucked into her spiel about how amazing her premium product (with the premium price) is, I urge you to dig a little deeper. Check out her testimonials, and the clients that she's worked with. Are they similar to you? Ask yourself whether you're she truly is an expert, or is just an expert at LOOKING like an expert. 

Sign up for her opt-ins, catch up for a discovery session together, and don't be afraid to ask the BIG QUESTIONS! These could include things like:

  • What are some of the benefits I might experience working with you?
  • How do you ensure that we're the right fit to work together, before we begin?
  • What are your refund/guarantees?
  • What are some of the hurdles you've helped your other clients get over?
  • What are your qualifications/Why should I HIRE YOU?

TAKE AWAY TIP FOR YOUR BUSINESS: Know your strengths and know your weaknesses. Make sure the things your celebrating publicly are a true reflection of what's happening in your business. And be honest when it's not. Back up the claims your making with some kick-ass client testimonials and case studies that have your dream clients drooling and knowing exactly what they're getting into when they hire you.

4. She's always changing platforms, to the next BIG THING!

'Add me on Snapchat' she says. 
'I'll be scoping in 10' she informs you. 
'Turn on your 'gram notifications' 
she demands. 
'Are we Facebook official?' 
she enquires.

I'm all for social media. I love it. I love scrolling through your feed. I love looking at your pretty pictures. I love seeing what Denise Duffield-Thomas' baby is wearing.

Most of all I love interacting with genuine people online.

But girl, if you're asking me to turn on notifications, follow your every move on every single platform and basically be your online BFF, than I'll be screaming 'HELL NO!' before you can say Snapchat three times fast.

In this ever-increasing online environment we live in, there's bound to be new platforms and the latest-and-greatest technology. But guess what - we don't have to buy into EVERYTHING that gets put out there. WE HAVE A CHOICE. When we are constantly updating to the latest and greatest, it doesn't make us look any different from the flock of flamingos that are chasing that trend all the way to the waterhole. Whilst I'm being totally frank with you - it just makes you look like a flake that can't sit still and didn't really think anything through. 

So, instead of leaping at the next opportunity to be the first on a new platform, sit back, relax, sip your chai tea and wait for them to calm their farm! 'Cause baby we're in it for the long haul & not the short-term gain.

TAKE AWAY TIP FOR YOUR BUSINESS: Be consistent in your content and your content platforms. The key to consistency is strategy. For sure, there'll be the new periscope coming out next month and Instagram will add another algorithm that throws our feeds into a catastrophic jumble. But if it's not part of your wider content strategy, then don't worry about it!!!