No one likes people who are boastful. Little wonder then, that so many small business owners feel uncomfortable when showcasing their achievements. However, unless we learn how to show the marketplace what we have accomplished and when we are capable of, we will place a very low ceiling on our success.
In my experience, the best way to overcome a tendency to sell ourselves short, is to focus on honesty, context and proof.
Honesty and context
By being honest about what you have done and explaining your achievements or accolades in context, you shift your focus from being boastful to being truthful.
Context is really important too. If you simply list a ton of achievements every time you connect with someone, you will look like an ass. However, if you list them in the right places, such as the about page of your website, people will actually be looking for them. You will simply be offering people the information they need. If they are reading your about page, they are checking you out – they want to know about you.
Where’s the proof?
Anyone can claim to have achieved anything. As a result, many people lie like crazy about their achievements. So, it’s understandable that our prospective clients or customers want some proof, to back up our claims.
- If you tell people you have been a content marketer for 5 years, link to something that backs that up; such as some old blog posts. You can also do as Seth Godin does and have your archive on the sidebar of your blog. Seth’s shows he was blogging in 2002.
- If you claim in your marketing material that you have a famous client, get permission from the person to use their name and if possible, get a photo of you together, too. Otherwise, don’t expect people to automatically believe you.
- If you tell people your work was featured in a well known newspaper, provide a link to the article. If you mention it in your offline marketing, use a scan of the coverage.
- If you tell people you won a prestigious award, provide a link back to the announcement on the award website.
In other words, if you want your achievements to be seen as truthful you should show some proof. Yes, I know you’re honest, you know you’re honest, but a prospective client who doesn’t know you yet, who’s reading your marketing material for the first time, would like some proof.
- On the about page of Jim’s Marketing Blog, I mention that I write for The Microsoft Small Business Blog. I then link to one of my articles, which is on the Microsoft blog and checkable.
- I do the same with a link to The Guardian newspaper, when they wrote about my listing on The UK Blog Tree as the UK’s most influential marketing blogger and the 2nd most influential business blogger.
Getting the balance right
Those and other achievements are only on my about page, so they are in context. If I listed them everywhere, they would be out of context. Just mentioning them here as an example, will sound boastful to some. That’s how important context is and how careful we have to be, to get the balance right.