I have a friend who has a similar loathing of self promotion as I do and we talk about it often: how we feel like assholes if we tweet about a new product or project more than once, how we cringe at the idea of selfies and building our “personal brands”. Maybe it’s hard for us to wrap our brains around that last one because we have worked on legit branding projects at ad agencies at our freelance “day jobs”. The Gap is a brand. Starbucks is a brand. But I have a hard time thinking of people as brands unless they’re Oprah or Martha. Are you a brand? Am I a brand? No. Most people are just people.
Now, I understand why the idea of building a personal brand is considered important. You want to build a platform to promote or sell something, I get that, but maybe we should be focusing on selling our expertise, our experience, our talents or our products rather than selling our online personas. I think only a small percentage of people can sell themselves solely on their personalities.
So, we do have a business and you could even call our business a brand, and I realize that this is where things get a bit complicated because a brand isn’t just about the products anymore–it’s about an image and a lifestyle. Small biz owners are often tied to their brand image (have I given you a headache yet?) because we’re often the voices of our businesses on social media. So are we–by extension–promoting ourselves? (oh god, this is getting confusing). I’ll fully admit, I have admiration for people who are good self promoters who can do it all day, every day, on the hour. They have balls. Do they not care about overexposure? (That is a thing!) Do they not care about annoying people with a constant barrage of “me me me” or risking being labeled a narcissist? I don’t want to be that person on Facebook or Twitter who posts about every single thing that’s happening to them. Or worse, what about those vague teaser posts? (“OMG this is the best day ever! I have news! BIG news! But I can’t tell you for another year!”) I have to wonder if at some point it crosses a line between self promotion and seeking validation. Self promotion is hard, but not because I don’t believe in our product. I think our cookies are awesome, but I don’t want to be tweeting or blogging about it every day (edited to include a link to the shop. See what I did there?) But you know what? Good self promoters do promote their stuff everyday. They understand that it’s easy to generate excitement around a new product launch, but that there’s a cliff and quick drop off. The real challenge is sustaining the buzz, and how do you stay visible and relevant? By promoting your stuff.
We rely on social media for the majority of our marketing. We don’t take out ads on blogs or publications (I think we’ve taken out ads twice in the 6 years we’ve been in business), we’ve never hired a PR firm, and we don’t have a marketing team. This is it and this has pretty much been it since we started. Maybe if we invested in marketing, our reach and audience might grow larger and quicker, but we’ve been fine with the pace of our growth and letting it happen organically. That said, I know I need get over myself and promote the hell out of our business because if we don’t do it, no one else will. Having a great product is nothing if no one can find it. So I’ll see you guys on all our social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Will I be promoting this blog post? Yeah, probably not.
P.S., this succulent doesn’t need any self promoting; it’s getting by on its looks alone. I saw it at home goods store in Rockport, Massachusetts and had to take it home. I’ve never seen flowers on a succulent quite like this before!