There’s something I don’t understand. If you’re a freelancer or an independent businessperson, why would your Web site or your marketing collateral consistently refer to “We” and “Our” (as in OUR services include… and WE are located in…, etc.)? Is it a ploy to “sound” bigger than you are? Is this a self confidence thing? I just don’t get it.
I was contacted by a Web programmer the other day and, while at first blush, I was very impressed with his skills and portfolio; I was instantly turned off by the fact that he constantly referred to himself in the third person and as a plural. Statements like “We have the most economical pricing…” and “Our clients have seen exponential return…” made me feel like I was being pitched by an account rep from some global conglomerate.
As the conversation continued I asked some simple (revealing) questions. “Who does the actual programming of your sites?” and (amazingly enough) “Where are your offices?” came back with the answers me and my basement, respectively.
Insert Scooby-Doo “WTH” sound here…
So, within the first two minutes of our conversation, this poor guy went from impressive designer/developer to liar. If he was willing to deceive me about the size of his “company,” what else was he willing to lie about? Sure, he (eventually) told the truth about being independent and working from his basement, but the perception that really stuck with me was the disconnect from “outward” portrayal and “actual” existence.
My advice to independent contractors struggling to position yourselves in this big, bustling world: Keep the basic rules of TRUE Branding in mind at all times.
“Truthful” is the base criteria because it’s the most important. If you have to make up statistics or create personae to make yourself feel/seem bigger, you’ve already failed. If you’re an independent, tell your prospects. If you outsource work to “partners,” make it clear.
As a contractor, I would much rather work with a single, honest, independent genius than a million sub-par liars.
Don’t try to be (or even imply) something you’re not. And if you’ve gained enough weight to be considered “plural” then you need to call Jenny Craig.
Just food for thought…
Andrew B. Clark
The Brand Chef