The Marketing Word | Differentiation Marketing

How to Self-Promote Without Being Obnoxious

promote yourselfIt’s so very hard to promote yourself. I mean, you know, if you weren’t raised by wolves. Most of us were taught not to brag. The phrases “blow your own horn” or “sing your own praises” are used derisively, usually for good reason.

I am friends with a lot of marketers, coaches, gurus, whatever and I understand the need to promote yourself to prospects and clients. But mostly I am seeing how NOT to promote yourself.  Here’s a recent Facebook post:

“It's been an amazing day of discovery & realization for me. It's so moving to be an inspiration & to know I've helped others just by being.”

Can you say narcissistic?  Because that’s the word two of my marketing friends came up with when I sent over that post and asked what they thought.  The “ewwww” factor was pretty huge on that one.

Here’s a post where a guy basically tells people he’s an a-hole:

“It's a little creepy when people I don't know recognize me and approach me in public places. Did I do something wrong to misinform people that I'm approachable and pleasant? I guess it's better than being actively stalked.”

If you’re actively marketing and promoting yourself, people are going to recognize you. That’s kind of the goal. In fact, he’s incredibly pleased that he was approached, then turns around and is ungracious enough to complain about it. Who does he think he’s fooling? If you were following this guy, would you ever walk up to him and introduce yourself after reading this?  Would you bother keeping him on your “friends” list? But I've "talked" with him. He's a nice guy. He was pleased that he got recognized, wanted to tell people, but didn't really feel comfortable just saying that. So, he blew it off, pretending to not like it.  And that path didn't serve him very well at all.

So how do you get the message out that you are good at what you do without sounding like a blowhard?

Here’s one way to do it and with it, a moment of truth: This blog post was inspired by a series of Facebook posts I saw today. One of my friends, Yvonne Charneskey ( ) posted a series of videos that her company had done for various clients, about three or four examples. Her last post of the series said: “As you can see, we can help you with a variety of video formats. Video puts a face to your words and makes you more believable and trustworthy. People do business with those they know, trust and like...”  That is a benefit statement, not a chest-thumping “look how wonderful we are.”

She also did something else with that series of videos. Outside of showing the high quality of her work, she spotlighted her clients to an audience (her Facebook friends) that may not have known about these people and companies.  That’s a bonus for her clients, which is a pretty nice thing to do.

There’s no call to action in her post but this is social media.  Social media has everyone walking a tightrope – trying to promote themselves and what they do without looking like they are promoting themselves or what they do. Could she have added a “light” call to action. Yes. But it is implied. If you need video done and done well, talk to Yvonne and her husband Hank.

What have you done for your clients that you can use to showcase what you do and how you can help others? I know a carpet cleaner who posts before and after pictures. An artist who shows her work in progress. A running coach that posts his students’ times and successes. There’s a way for you to showcase your talent on social media without being heavy-handed.  Give it some thought and then put it out there.


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  • Brenda Ellison · 11/17/2012 at 10:42 pm

    I just loved reading this article! I thought the marketing Gods had gone crazy or that I had.
    You really hit the nail on the head Barbara with this one Barbara. No one cares how much you like or think well of yourself. It reminds me avoiding any one that has to say the words “trust me”….yeah, I’m thinking No.
    You do have to promote your products and put your talents out there but the “show and tell” method….show us what you have and how it works and tell us about where it’s being used and clients that use it successfully is a much better way of letting potential clients than the “you have to see this” or “have I got a deal for you”.
    Thanks for putting a little perspective on this sore spot. I knew it needed more than a little bandaid,
    Brenda Ellison-MyInfoSnap

  • Admin comment by Barbara Grassey · 11/18/2012 at 9:06 am

    Thanks Brenda. We see marketing done poorly so often, it’s a pleasure to see someone doing it right!

  • Christine Brady · 11/28/2012 at 5:50 pm

    Hi Barbara,

    So true!

    It seems like marketing and blatant self-promotion have crossed lines somewhere.

    Having spent many years on the academia side of marketing, it really just a Marketing 101 kind of thing.

    But then again, sometimes people who start a business haven’t the slightest clue about marketing.

    Glad I found your blog!


  • Admin comment by Barbara Grassey · 11/28/2012 at 6:27 pm

    Glad you found your way here, Christine!

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