Reputation Counts – Part 3

Last week, I found myself trapped by old habits. So, now I have to do quite a lot of extra work that I could have avoided if I’d just been smarter.

As most of you know, I was a corporate marketer for quite a few years.

When you’re marketing for a corporation, you’re compelled to style your writing to match their requirements. You’re obliged to mirror what they do.

And many companies have a fundamental marketing style. They’re either optimistic or pessimistic.

My former employer leaned toward pessimistic marketing to motivate customers. Here are some examples of the kinds of things they’d say:

  • Worried about downtime and disaster?
  • Concerned your system won’t fit your requirements?
  • Many customers struggle to build an appropriate data infrastructure.

Since I’ve been writing this way for a long time, I tend to let that approach creep into the writing I do.

That’s a shame, because my normal style is very action-oriented, can-do, positive, and optimistic.

Reviewing my website, I found corners and sections where a pessimistic style had crept in. And that’s not good for me because I could get a reputation for pessimism.

Have you met someone who was constantly pessimistic? Sometimes people like that become the butt of jokes, which is why Saturday Night Live created the “Debbie Downer” character — and added to the humor by introducing her boyfriend, “Bob Bummer.”

Why is pessimism a problem?

  1. It gets in the way of relationships. I want prospects to see me as energetic and positive, not worried and cautious.
  2. It gets in the way of my enthusiasm. If my elevator pitch is pessimistic, will it, over time, make me more pessimistic?
  3. It attracts pessimistic clients — likely precisely the ones I want to avoid because they’re prone to seeing problems, not solutions.

What’s the antidote? Focusing your marketing on opportunity, not difficulty.

It’s a simple style shift but it pays dividends. When prospects visit your site, you want them to immediately see you as positive, effective, and enthusiastic. If I apply that style shift to those marketing bullet examples above, I might end up with …

  • Looking for reliability?
  • Seeking a system that exceeds your expectations?
  • There’s a proven roadmap for an appropriate data infrastructure.

So I urge you, as you develop your marketing messages, to emphasize the positive. I’ll be doing just that as I rewrite my website. Your reputation will thank you — and so will your clients.

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Published: August 6, 2012

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