A lot of SME entrepreneurs are too modest, or don’t appreciate the value of making their own face the image of their company.
I was given this same advice in my IT company 20 years ago and guess what I did?
I dismissed it.
I thought it was too egotistical and the wrong image for a technical business wanting to supply more large PLCs. I wanted the company to look big and polished and more like the clients it was trying to serve.
Did I make a mistake?
In the end, who knows? The company was sold a year or so later for an unsolicited offer that was not to be refused – maybe keeping my mugshot out of the picture was the right thing to do.
So, this suggestion may not apply to everybody, but I believe more SMEs would benefit from considering it.
These days, with increasing competition, we need to explore every opportunity available to differentiate ourselves. And what is more unique than a face, a personality, a person with whom clients can form a relationship, in contrast to a company alone or its logo.
Some companies have specialist products, unique even, so they may find that promoting one or two product USPs is the best focus for their marketing campaigns. But many more products and services are nearer to commodities and need something else to differentiate them.
Remember Bernard Matthews’ turkeys or Victor Kiam’s shavers? If not – and if you haven’t already seen it – then take a look at “One pound fish” on You Tube (below).
I think these businessmen acknowledge that their products could be seen by some potential clients as just ‘another one of the same thing you can get anywhere’.
So they differentiate their company by initiating a personal relationship with their prospects. And they do this by promoting themselves as much as the product or service they are selling.
What the market sees is an attractive or interesting or trustworthy or other personality-type who some people will prefer to buy from.
You don’t have to be an actor or a comedian or even an extrovert. You just need, like Stephen Hawking, to be yourself.
If you do decide to use your own image and personality to differentiate your company, product or service don’t feel you have got it wrong when not everybody likes you.
Companies wishing to grow need more customers. So they believe they must appeal to as wide an audience as they possibly can. Consequently, they often avoid initiatives that risk alienating any part of the market.
The trouble with this is that they can easily leave themselves with an insipid, ‘lowest common denominator’ image that upsets no-one, but doesn’t appeal strongly to any segment of the market either.
So, be brave. Show who you are and what you stand for. Consider an option that is not usually open to your big, polished and nationally branded competitors and think about ‘selling yourself’ (intended, of course, in best possible taste!)