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The Subtle Difference Between Self-Promotion vs. Marketing

Self-Promotion vs Marketing

As marketers, we’ve been told that visibility brings success. While that is true, you also need to be telling the right story to the right people in order to grow. There is a subtle, yet monumental, difference between self-promotion vs marketing. Let’s explore when it’s OK to self-promote and a more effective way to grow your brand.

What is Self-Promotion?

Self-promotion is all about broadcasting your own greatness and putting your accomplishments in the spotlight. It is OK to self-promote while you are writing a resume, in a job interview or if you are vying for a promotion. However, self-promotion isn’t going to help you grow your business.

Potential clients don’t want to know how great you are. They want to know how great you can help them become.

Yes, some self-promotion helps you gain credibility. Prospective customers do need to know enough about your credentials to be sure they can trust you to solve their problem. At the same time, effective self-promotion can happen in just a few sentences. All you have to do is share stories that prove you can get your audience the results they want.

At the end of the day, your business isn’t about you. It is about how your product, service, or offering can help your ideal client succeed. That is the story your marketing should tell.

What is Marketing?

Marketing is promotion that focuses on the customer. Instead of talking about your company, your value proposition should address your customer’s needs, pain points, and how your offering can meet those needs. Masterful marketing transforms the conversation from a self-centered monologue to a dialogue, engaging with customers and making them the hero of the story.

Although marketing often gets a bad rap, it usually isn’t the marketing that annoys us. It is all the senseless noise companies make while promoting their own accomplishments that gets on our nerves. 

Ironically, when you stop trying to get people’s attention and start focusing on helping them instead, you will build a reputation in your industry without all the self-promotion.

The Difference Between Self-Promotion and Marketing

Although the difference between marketing and self-promotion is subtle, the impact is substantial.

Self Promotion:
Focuses on 'me'. ('Me' could be the company founder, owner, or the company itself.)
Highlights personal achievements, company awards, or accomplishments.
Causes potential customers to tune you out because it's not about them.
Focuses on your target market's wants and needs.
Highlights how your company's offering can solve their specific problem and make their lives better.
Invites your target audience into a compelling story of transformation.

Why Self-Promotion Doesn’t Grow Your Business

Self-promotion that’s all about “me, me, me” goes against the foundational purpose of good businesses—helping others. When your messaging is too self-centered, it will push people away instead of drawing them in. 

Customers don’t want to know about you. They want to know that you can solve their problem. They don’t want another hero. They want a guide to help them achieve success.

Although you can certainly mention your company’s accomplishments as a way to build authority and trust, bragging and self promotion should never be the main focus of your marketing.

3 Tips to Shift From Self-Promotion to Effective Marketing

If you notice that your current marketing leans toward self-promotion, these 3 tips will help you shift your messaging and your mindset. You’ll be able to put the self-promotion on the sidelines and tell potential customers a story they are actually interested in hearing.

Tip 1: Put Your Customer First

Your customer should always be your #1 focus. Your target audience is the focus of your marketing messages, the content you create for social channels, any changes you make to your business, and even your day-to-day interactions.

Solving their problems and fulfilling their wants and needs should drive everything you do.

You want your business as a whole, from your marketing campaigns to the technicians delivering the service, to create an unforgettable experience that customers will want to come back to again and again.

Tip 2: Give Away Value

Imagine walking into a store where, instead of an immediate sales pitch, you’re offered a free sample. A customer service representative then listens intently to your needs and outlines potential solutions.

Receiving genuine assistance would make you feel seen, heard, and valued. Instead of that “I’m under attack” vibe you usually get from used car lots, you’d feel at ease.

Although the customer service person was still trying to sell you their solution, whether you bought it or not, you’d walk out of the store knowing they understood your problem and had a way to help.

That is marketing at its best. Marketing is a tool for connection, not just a vehicle for conversion.

When you give away value for free, you are invoking the principle of reciprocity and building a relationship at the same time.

Customer service is a great way to give value in person. Content marketing allows you to provide value in between appointments or services.

By generously sharing valuable information, tips, and insights for free, businesses are not just saying, “Look! We’re experts!”. They’re proving it.

The more value you can give to interested customers, the more likely they will be to buy from you and stick around long enough to become loyal customers who refer you to their friends.

Tip 3: View Your Business as a Service

No matter what industry you are in, if you can shift your mindset to view your business as a service to your target market, your marketing will naturally take a more altruistic shape. It becomes about what you can do for the customer, not what you can get from them.

If your main goal is to pave the way for your customer’s success, you’ll highlight the how, not the what. You’ll promote the success you’ve helped previous clients achieve, not your own.

This perspective, ironically, helps with employee engagement just as much as it does with customer engagement. By shifting the company goal to helping others, going in to work every day starts to feel a little more meaningful.

Instead of peddling sales, employees are building relationships, becoming trusted advisors, and genuinely making someone else’s life better. That “ick” feeling that often coats sales interactions is replaced by authentic connection.

More Connection, Less Self-Promotion

Making the shift from “it’s all about me” toward authentic connection with your target market can revolutionize your business, and your workforce for that matter.

If you need help making your customers the hero of your company’s story, schedule a call with Guide MKTG. We will create company messaging that tells the story your ideal client wants to hear—their story.

You’ll never have to wonder what to say in your sales pitch, what to post on your social media profiles, or what you write in your ad campaigns again. We will become your long-term marketing partner and take all the confusion out of marketing for good.


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