“Why Don’t They Get It/Me/Us?”
December 9, 2008 7 Comments
Mack Collier has started a good discussion on his blog (The Viral Garden) about the use, or non-use, of self-promotion among social media types.
Now I’m against blatant, obnoxious, noisy self-promotion by any person or company. Hate it. But I’m all for prominent, “sticky”, clear, and repeated communications by any person or company about what they do. Because most of us are in business, and new business doesn’t happen if people don’t have a clear grasp of what you have to offer.
I’m going to use Mack as an example, because he’s a good sport, and by putting up this post, he’s “asking for it!” It takes 3 fairly involved clicks on Mack’s blog to get a grasp of what he does for his living, and even when you reach the post where he explains his social media consulting, it’s really not clear what types of companies he is aiming for, and what exact and tangible deliverables he has in mind.
Let’s just say (I’m making this up) that Mack was aiming to be the top social media we’ll-get-you-started-in-this-brave-new-world for, let’s say, retail organizations (I do believe in having a defined focus and niche whenever possible). Then it would be great if, prominent right on the sidebar as you come onto the Viral Garden, there was a summary paragraph such as: “Mack Collier helps retail organizations navigate the uncharted waters of social media by applying community-building strategies that lead to higher sales.” Or something like that. And then had it on his footer on blog posts. And on e-mails.
You see, it’s not enough to say you’re a _______ consultant. I’m a pharmaceutical consultant, but that could mean a lot of things. In particular, I have developed a unique network to help pharmaceutical training organizations find optimal suppliers for outsourced training development needs. But here is the ironic thing – though I have blogged about this for 2.5 years, sent out a weekly e-newsletter, sought to explain the business model numerous times through words, graphics, video, analogies (“I’m the living eHarmony of pharma training… I’m a matchmaker/broker…” etc.) …people STILL often don’t get it! I regularly have to explain it “live” before the light goes on. Why??
It’s because what I do doesn’t really matter to them, until it does. Our limited attention bandwidth is totally absorbed with the immediate and day-to-day. My business model is irrelevant to people 99.9% of the time. However, if I have self-promoted (or, if you prefer, self-explained) effectively, regularly, and added value without being obnoxious, enough of the message sinks through for that critical phone call, e-mail, or referral, when the time is ripe. We HAVE to promote ourselves effectively and winsomely in a very noisy market, and explain over and over again what we do and how we do it, if we want to gain business.
Of course, I’d be happy to refer Mack, or a bunch of the rest of you talented folks I’ve met via Twitter and blogging (my entire business is built on referrals) – but I can only do so if I have a clear grasp of what you do, so that if the need arose with one of my clients, your “metadata” is stored in my noggin. That’s effective marketing 101. That’s self-promotion. And it’s more than OK. It’s absolutely necessary!
Also see Lisa Hoffmann’s take here.