How to be charismatic: Marketing with charm, heart and personality

Data, facts, and logic make it easier to measure, predict and understand. It’s all about having concrete measurables. However, when it comes to marketing and creative campaigns, what you really need is something else entirely: charisma.

No one wants to think about personality and charm when trying to boost their sales or bottom line, but you absolutely should. It turns out that the same thing that determined popularity in high school is also essential to your brand’s messaging, marketing and lead-nurturing.

What is charisma in the first place, though? How do you even define “charismatic” and what role does it have in the success (or lack thereof) of your marketing? How can something so ineffable be the essential ingredient to creative campaign success?

More importantly, how do you execute that?

We’ll take a closer look at what charisma is, what being charismatic entails, why people respond to it and how anyone can use this basic knowledge to be more appealing in strategic campaigns.

What does charismatic mean?

Individuals are brands just as much as any startup, small business or enterprise. Everyone has a reputation. We’ve all got a perceived value. We deal with varying levels of popularity with friends, coworkers, even family members. Success is determined by how effectively they define, develop, and market that brand identity. However, what really sets us apart from one another is something much more difficult to measure – charisma.

What is charisma? How do you define charismatic? It’s surprisingly difficult to arrive at an “in a nutshell” answer to the question of what does charismatic mean. Authorities from The New York Times to Psychology Today have agreed that there is no universal definition, but “you know it when you see it.” Merriam-Webster gives us this definition of charismatic: “having, exhibiting, or based on charisma or; a person who possesses special traits that attract, inspire, or fascinate other people: a person possessing charisma.”

This, at least, is a starting point for exploring bigger questions, such as how to develop charisma or how to be charming – those previously mentioned charismatic personality traits that attract, inspire, or fascinate.

Charismatic personality traits

The foundation of charisma is the possession of specific personality traits and abilities. While possessing these traits and abilities does not necessarily guarantee that you will be charismatic, they are necessary to become so.

Self-Confidence. Most charismatic people have a high degree of self-confidence, according to Forbes. They like themselves, they’re comfortable in their own skin, and, what’s more, they inspire confidence from other people. They know their worth and never try to be someone other than who they are.

Look at Cardi B. has a ton of confidence. Love her or hate her or her music, she understands how to command an audience:

How does she do create “the Cardi B Effect?” As NPR pointed out:  “A branding power rooted in specific authenticity, created and permeated by…. blunt honesty, rapping, laughing, mild to moderate twerking, tongue-curling, teeth-kissing, chart-topping and regular degular Bronx girl antics.”

More importantly, she can bring a group of people together in the same physical space that would never hang out in the real world. Now that is a special gift. She speaks her beliefs, which has hold a truth to many types of people of all backgrounds.

Joy. While we might struggle to define what charisma actually means, there’s no denying that one of the most immediately noticeable traits is that spark of life these people seem to have. They are passionate, and they live their lives with joy. They’re able to persuade others to join their cause through passion.

In general, storytelling always has an arc… basically outer, personal or inner conflicts, in a characters life and the story is how clever, creative they are in closing that gap, dynamically. Did they step on people or lift people up in doing so? In the case of Audi’s campaign “promote yourself,” their TV spot portrays a woman who has ALL THREE gaps. The CEO salutes her as employee of the year, in front of everyone at the firm… (outer) She SHOULD be feeling joy… but it’s clear she is not. (inner) What is missing is doing things her own way, starting her own company (personal) It’s not handed to her, she has to go out and grab it… that’s why we like her.  The visuals bring in references of the book “The Secret” (she updates her a “Vision board” list with a NEW vision that foreshadows her inner feelings). A Jerry McGuire “lite” departure (making a scene when she quits) while showing determination, defiance, confidence… and even inspiring onlookers from in her office and out in the streets (outer: she takes actual steps to act out her dreams) becoming a visual inspiration to everyone watching her.

When you create all that level of context, with all those layers and layers of emotion, story and visual communication, that is what a full emotional story of what “joy” really looks like:

It also feeds into a bunch of other emotions like:

Empathetic. According to Inc., the most charismatic people in the world are also empathetic. That is, they’re easily able to put themselves into someone else’s shoes. In addition, they create empathy in others. That is the secret of how charismatic people connect with others with such seeming ease – they make their audience feel empathy with them.

Able to express emotions well. This is one area where many of us struggle. Sure, you can express anger, or maybe happiness, but what about subtle nuances of emotion? Charismatic individuals can express the full range of human emotions, and they do it well.

Quick-witted. All charismatic people share a quick wit and have the ability to adapt to subtle changes in a situation, according to CNBC. This allows them to say the right thing at the right time in order to influence others, and to tell the right story for each situation.

Amazon’s campaigns have done a great job as capturing these last three.

Even at the end, the daughter “hangs up” on her dad, with a charming attitude, keeping things real before things get too “sweet and syrupy.” In mere seconds we experience real, authentic people, with a lot of love and connection, living a full life and expressing real emotions that we can all relate too… or at least aspire to.

Funny enough, the Facebook Portal spots look exactly the same. In fact, I was incorrectly searching for “Alexa” on Youtube before I figured it out. The problem with this is that there is little differentiation from Amazon’s campaigns. What I liked better about Amazon, was the fact that they only reveal that they are talking through the device at the very end, which becomes a surprise and really reinforces how seamless the experience is. Here there is no surprise but the scene plays out awkward at first until the parents move into a new stance that makes us feel authenticity:

Just to be clear, make sure you don’t cheat out on the emotions and story because that is really what you should be paying for when you have your team or partners help you create your campaign messaging! The emotion is where the magic is. It’s not enough to show that END result only. When you do that, the story flatlines… or worse, doesn’t exist. This is what most, forgettable advertising has done for decades, they do what is call in the acting world “playing the result.” They show an emotion, with no arc, no build up, no context and expect you to take it at face value? The problem with this is, without struggle, or context, emotion (joy, happiness, excitement, etc) just comes off superficial because the story and the character or the story didn’t earn our respect, so to speak. It didn’t give us an experience.

In this example the voice-over is doing all the work of trying to provide context. But I don’t feel anything so I tuned out. What do you think? Is that Nirvana in the background as a nursery song?

But know that you don’t have to be so “on the nose.” You can also go completely against what you want to convey to make a deeper point, but you just have to do it with style. You can create a ridiculous problem that goes against all norms… while adding comedy to the situation like AT&T has done with their “OK” campaigns:

All of the characteristics and abilities mentioned above apply just as much to organizations, brands and even marketing campaigns as they do to individuals. They have personality, as well, and must understand and think about the same things that you or I do.

For example, when/how/why do you make a connection with any person to begin with? Typically it’s when you open up about a fear, a loss and you make yourself vulnerable to them which produces empathy from the other party and eventually a bond. Your storytelling should be no different. Just look at what films win at the Oscars every year, year after year and you’ll see this is exactly what they do.

Now that we have explored charisma and charismatic meaning, it’s time to turn our attentions to another topic. Specifically, we’re going to take an in-depth look at how to be charming and how to develop charisma.

How to be charming: Tips and tricks to unlock your charisma

It’s all well and good to understand the traits that help define charismatic individuals, as well as brands and successful marketing campaigns. But how do you unlock your charisma? For those wondering how to have a charismatic personality, these tips and tricks will help.

Engagement: Be present by actively listening

Active listening – the art of truly paying attention to what someone else is saying or doing – is a hallmark of charismatic individuals. How do you show that you’re actively engaged in listening to the other party? It’s communicated through body language. It’s expressed by making eye contact. It’s shown by putting down devices so that you can focus on what is being communicated.

Brands and marketing teams can tap into the same trick. This means user-first thinking instead of brand-first thinking. By engaging with your ideal audience through social media, and ensuring responsive customer service and/or marketing teams, you show that you are actively listening to what your customers care about. Of course, this goes well beyond simply replying to comments left on Facebook posts, although that sort of engagement is vital, too. It touches on creating media that explores the topics that your audience cares about most, whether in written format, infographics, or online video. It also includes taking additional steps to show that you value what your audience thinks and wants, such as surveys and polls.

Why, though? Shouldn’t the situation be the other way around? Actually, no. You’re in business to support your customers, and you cannot do that if you do not listen. There are additional benefits to be found here, as well. For instance, actively listening to your customers will help you discover success stories that you can share with your audience. It helps improve customer retention, and creates brand ambassadors. It even has an effect on customer spending, bolstering your profitability.

So, listen actively. Know what’s being said. Show that you care. Be part of the conversation.

Know your strengths and play to them

As mentioned previously, charisma comes from having self-confidence and being able to inspire confidence in others. It’s about knowing what you’re good at and leaning into those skills to help bolster your confidence when it is flagging. Maybe you’re a jokester. You can use humor to help improve your sense of confidence, but also to connect with others. Perhaps you’re adept at researching facts and figures and then assimilating the minutia and painting an accurate picture of a topic. Maybe you’ve got the gift of gab, or perhaps you’re very persuasive. All of these can help build the confidence that you need for success.

The same thing applies to brands and organizations. What does your business do best? What are your startup’s strengths in comparison with competitors? What is your unique selling proposition? Identify your strengths and then play to them in your marketing campaigns. Do you do humor well? Are you empathetic? Do you solve problems? You must show your audience how you add value; you can’t just say that you do. It’s essential that you get out there and prove it.

Be less self-centered

You’re out on a date, and the other person just won’t shut up about themselves and how great they are. They’re the most amazing at this, and the greatest at that. Meanwhile, you’re grinding your teeth counting down the seconds until you can cut the night short and head back home alone. No one likes an excessively self-centered person. There’s a whole psychological classification devoted to it called narcissism. Asking questions about the other person, and listening as they speak is far more charming than droning on endlessly about yourself.

In the same vein, brands and organizations need to break out of the narcissistic marketing mode they’re stuck in. Sure, your product is the best on the market. Your service is amazing. Stop talking about it already. Endless self-promotion will do nothing but drive your audience away. They’re not really interested. Instead, engage with your audience. Listen to them. Ask them questions. Get involved in the conversation (and to have a conversation, there must be a two-way flow of information, so stop overtly promoting). Become part of the community and drive value.

As a counterpoint, Cardi B. seems to break this rule, as her intense presence seems to suck up all the oxygen around her at times. It works for her but the effect can be polarizing for many, so it really depends on your objectives. If your brand is not even on the map, an aggressive approach could have short to long term gains that make it worth taking the risk to stand out over others vs. being a forgotten and failed brand. It really depends on your brand and position in the marketplace.

Think about it this way: For most brands, creative messaging that appeals to emotions is more effective than calls to action that demand a specific behavior.

Broadcast passion and positivity

Those who have a charismatic personality are passionate, and they practice positivity (most of the time). Those character traits are important because other people are attracted to them. A passionate person can win over even naysayers to a cause that matters to them. A positive person uplifts others to the point that people actually seek them out just to spend time in their presence.

There is also the fact that sharing passions fosters empathy and intimacy, whether you’re running a fundraiser to support a nonprofit with a cause that matters to you, or you’re fighting for social recognition of a little-known medical condition that affects someone close to you. Passionate people help others see things from their point of view – they open eyes and broaden minds. They teach, and bring others together. They create a sense of community and camaraderie.

Brands and organizations can tap into the same thing. How? Consider showing interest in the passions of your audience. What is it that fires them up? What gets their engine revving? What causes, topics, or issues ignite their own passions? Consider supporting nonprofits that are involved with causes and issues that matter to your audience. Support social movements that have value to your customers. Get the brand to take a more active role, as well.

In addition, you can also focus on creating positive messaging – don’t sling mud at the competition. Don’t be negative. Create uplifting video content, be positive on social media. Creative messaging is definitely more charming than the alternative.

Become a better storyteller

When you communicate with others, do you do so with a focus on what you want them to feel or take away from the conversation? If so, you’re short-circuiting your success. Instead, those with a charismatic personality focus on how others feel during the conversation. It’s not about the message. It’s about how the story makes your audience feel – the emotional connection you establish with someone else.

The same thing is true for brands and marketing campaigns. Use humor, passion and a shared human connection to create stories that resonate with your audience on an emotional level. Think about it this way: when you create a marketing video, do you start with an idea for the message, or do you begin with a specific audience or customer persona in mind?

If it’s the former, you’re in trouble. If it’s the latter, you’re on the right track. The best videos begin not with a message, but with an audience or persona, and use their needs, interests, and emotions to lead them on a journey.

In conclusion

When it’s all said and done, charisma can be built over time. That applies to both individuals and brands, and it offers immense rewards. Whether you’re seeking to be more successful on a personal level, or you want to build a stronger, future-proof brand with outstanding customer loyalty, learning how to be charismatic is an essential step.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Producer and Creative Director Allen Martinez founded Noble Digital agency and has been implementing creative branding and performance campaigns for B2B and B2C startups like: Plated, Fundrise and Telesign as well as larger corporations such as: Coca-Cola, In-Bev, Subway, Nestle, AT&T, Anheuser-Busch, Quest, Hilton Hotels, Burger King, Univision, Yamaha, Miller Lite, Proctor & Gamble, McDonald’s, Heineken, Orbitz and Wrigley. Martinez has used Noble Digital as a platform to implement what he has learned from years of helping Fortune 500s and has reverse-engineered these powerful frameworks to launch and scale funded startups and growing corporations.

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