Are you embarrassed to “Toot Your Own Horn” in Your Marketing?

You can feel it in your gut when I bring it up, can’t you? That embarrassed feeling at the thought of asking clients for testimonials, or featuring your smiling picture prominently in your website banner.

It’s that icky, uncomfortable feeling you get when it comes to sharing with a potential client how good you are at what you do, and how you’ve helped others in the past just like them, and you know you can help them.

It’s not your fault! In the American culture (and many others), as innocent children, we are chastised whenever we tell people we’re good at something:

 “Don’t brag, it’s not polite.”

“Don’t be so full of yourself.”

 “My, aren’t you conceited?”

So we learn that it’s a bad thing to even think to ourselves that we’re great at something, let alone share it with others. It becomes so deeply ingrained, that we’re even uncomfortable when someone else extols our virtues.

We look embarrassed, change the subject, or worse, invalidate what that person is saying:

“It wasn’t that good.”

“Anyone could have done it.”

“I was just doing my job.”

This cultural idiosyncrasy comes back to bite us in a big way when we become adults, and go out to make our way in the world.

Turns out, in order to be successful, there are many situations in which we need to appear very confident in ourselves, and to sell people on our abilities: getting into the college of our choice, job interviews, and dealing with clients and customers, for example.

Even finding a mate requires confidence. True conceit is a turn-off, but confidence in oneself is attractive!

So how do we overcome this cultural programming, so we can market our businesses successfully? Here are three ways to change how you look at promoting your business, so you can feel comfortable and do what you need to in order to succeed:

  1. You are the business.  When you provide a service, such as coaching, you ARE the product. Even if  you are offering the same information or providing the same service as others, there is no one like you.
    It’s the unique way that you teach, provide, or do what you do that makes you special. There are people out there who can only learn it from you.   They will only click with you
    It’s your tribe. Someone else can teach the same thing, or do the same thing, and your tribe won’t get it or click with them. But they will with you.
    If you just market what you do, or what you teach, there’s a zillion others (mostly likely) who do that. So when you are marketing, the way you stand out is to market YOU. YOU are an integral part of your branding.
  2. Don’t take it so personally. It isn’t personal, it’s business. You’re promoting your service. You know you do a good job; you know people are getting value from your service. Put a few degrees of separation between you and what you provide.
    When you find yourself in that awkward, embarrassing moment, such as interviewing for a testimonial and asking the client what they liked most about working with you, think of it as though they are talking about how you run your business. Because they are!   Remember, you are the business.
  3. Think of your own mentors.  Think about all the people you’ve respected and admired enough to purchase their services, or read and listen to their teaching. Chances are, they did all those things you feel embarrassed about for yourself. Did you judge them? Or did it help you to discover you were a part of their tribe?

Case in point: I do all those things, and you respect what I have to say enough to have read this entire article :-).

It truly is ok to be confident in your service and let people know it, and it’s worth pushing through that embarrassment and uncomfortableness to reach out and find your tribe. So, take a deep breath, remember you ARE the product and you are GREAT, and just do it!

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