Self-promotion in business is just like self-promotion in church. It’s always a lot better to have others recognize and praise your gifts than to do it yourself.
Self-promotion is especially hard for people who know that God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). It’s all very well to speak honestly about the virtues of your product, but doing the same of yourself is not so easy. Yet that is the position many of us find ourselves in—whether as copywriters or as musicians or as counsellors or actors or photographers or whatever else. Is it boasting to put an “Honest—Reliable—Caring” tagline to your plumbing business? Can you refer to yourself as “gifted” or “brilliant?”
The answer is simple: you shouldn’t need to. If you are good at what you do, you will be able to find people willing to say so. At first, that might just be friends or relatives you have done favors for. But over time, as you gain traction and clients, this will change.
Testimonials are far more believable, and far less awkward, than writing compliments about yourself. After all, you wouldn’t be all that inclined to take a pastor’s word for it if he advertised himself as “Spirit-filled, vibrant, caring and honest”—but if some members of his church said so, it would give quite a different impression.
Another simple way to avoid feeling sleazy about promoting yourself is to stick to objective facts. “I’m an up-and-coming filmmaker with a genius for poignant drama” is gitty; “shortlisted for the Cannes Film Festival 2013” isn’t. Awards, nominations, qualifications, achievements and noteworthy past clients are all fine to mention, as long as they’re relevant. (Don’t try to be cutesy and tell people you run half-marathons and volunteer at the soup kitchen. Nobody cares.)
As always, this takes self-awareness and sober judgment. Are you trying to convey your virtues to Sam for his sake, so he can get the best service possible? Are you serving him with the information? Or are you serving yourself for the sheer joy of making your business website a shrine to your own magnificence?
There’s nothing holy about pride—or false modesty. Recognising you have a gift is good. Conveying that information is good. For instance, Sam might have a special-needs child and want a photographer with exceptional patience. If you know you’re patient and kids love you, saying so on your website will be valuable information for him. It will simplify his decision-making and potentially save him a lot of wasted time, money and energy. But if you can find someone else to say you’re patient and kids love you, that’s even better.
- I’ll never send you an email I don’t believe will be of benefit to you.
- I’ll never share or sell your email address.
- I’ll always include a link at the bottom of every email that you can click to instantly unsubscribe.