Don’t try to be like the big guys.

Once upon a time, small businesses were wise to front like they were bigger than they actually were. Professionalism was valued over a human touch, and branding had nothing to do with the owners – unless it was a “quirky” business. Teams were made to look bigger than they actually were; forgoing individual names for a logo in communication, or using corporate vernacular they didn’t actually employ in the office.

Everyone was trying to look like the guys to beat, those big corporations that came in and busted up the small business system.

Those days are dead. The “big guys” now want to look like you!

Authenticity and humanity are where it’s at. Some multi-million dollar conglomerates are even signing emails with just a first name and an emoticon. (Too far, says me.) In marketing discussions and literature it’s all about how to incorporate “that human touch,” the element that makes it feel like you’re working with an actual, real, person.

And it’s a whole lot easier to accomplish this element when it’s actually what’s happening! The time for the little guy has come once again.

Here are a few ways to capitalize on these changes:

    • Add or pump up your Team page. Have a page that tells clients all about your team. Ask each member to write their own blurb, including both information of professional relevance and info that shares a bit about who they are. For example:I’m Bill Murray, and have been entertaining the world for nearly 40 years via many of your favorite movies. One time I broke Robert DeNiro’s nose on accident, but Hunter S. Thompson also almost killed me once; so it’s all good, karma-wise. (For us normals: Favorite foods, homelands, and hobbies are apt fodder.)
    • Tell your origin story. It seems obvious, but many business owners don’t take advantage of this. Why do you do what you do? How did it come to be? People care about this because we, as a people – like stories. We are a gregarious and curious nation. So, tell your tale! The other side of this is that your clients get to understand you more as a person. It’s always good to have clients not only value the quality of your work, but who also value your relationship; sharing your origin story on your website or a plaque will help develop the latter. (This is especially helpful for businesses that don’t have a brick and mortar, or for those who do, but are shy.) Can’t get your head around how to tell your story so people will listen? I can help.
    • Mix yourself into your branding! Starting a new business? Put yourself in there from the beginning. When choosing a logo, color schemes, decor – pick things YOU like. Don’t try to people-please folks you haven’t even met yet, just do you. If everyone’s telling you that a logo is hard to read – definitely listen. But if some random says they don’t like the color, who cares?People are attracted to passion, find ways to bring your own passions into your business. For example, when thinking of promotions, attach them to things you care about. Maybe you’re super into the Dodgers: Tie a promotion into their schedule by offering a discount on game days, and/or after a win, and also let them (the team, the local show, who/whatever you’re celebrating) know what you’re up to. You might even get some free PR!
    • Catch yourself when you ask, “Is that professional?” This doesn’t mean what it used to mean. The professional of yesterday is now thought to be dry and stuffy. Communication, both aloud and written, is usually done in a conversational tone. Being overdressed is likely to cause more discomfort than being underdressed. Being professional has more do with competency and getting the job done right, style and presentation are no longer the key focus in most industries.

It’s a grand time to be an entrepreneur! Have fun with it, and please let me know if I can help. ★

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