I took a life and business coaching program a few years ago, and one the most powerful lessons I learned was that many of the choices you make, emotions you feel, and ways you behave are based on the stories you tell yourself—for example, that you’re awesome or that you’re awkward, that you’re a capable, powerful leader or that you have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.
You tell stories across all facets of your life, including when it comes to promoting your career or yourself. Whether you tell yourself that you only get one shot to get it right or that you need to be professional at all costs, these stories dictate how you approach certain promotional opportunities.
But those tales aren’t always true—and often put a lot of pressure on yourself. How do you change the story? With some good ol’ perspective.
If you’re looking to shake up your business’s PR strategy or even rethink the ways you promote yourself, here are five strategic quotes that will help you switch the song.
1. “People are people, and the biology of decision-making is the same no matter whether it’s a personal decision or a business decision.” - Simon Sinek
You may have the tendency to divide your communication approach into two buckets: life and business. But in reality, people decide whether they want to buy from a business using the same process that they use when deciding whether to pursue a friendship.
You already know how to create relationships in your personal life, so simply use those tactics—like authenticity, transparency, and empathy—to create relationships.
2. “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts.” - Jeff Bezos
When it comes to promoting yourself or your work, it’s easy to focus on you. Specifically, what do you want to get out of the opportunity? How are you going to prepare? What messages do you want to get across?
Those are all important questions to answer, but you need to keep the focus on the people you’re promoting to. You are the host, and they’re the guests. Treat ’em accordingly.
For example, let’s say you’re creating an email marketing campaign for your clients. Instead of first outlining the messages you want to get across and brainstorming how you’re going to promote your product, start by talking about the experience you want to create for your clients through this campaign. What useful information can you provide them? How do you want them to feel when they open your emails? Then, insert your messaging accordingly.
3. “Make the customer the hero of your story.” - Ann Handley
An incredibly effective way to explain what you do—and, most importantly, showcase your impact—is to make your customer (or the people you’ve impacted) the hero of your story. In other words, let someone else’s story highlight why you or your work is so great.
To do this, consider including customer testimonials on your personal website or bringing several recommendations with you to your next interview. Having a customer say that you created a marketing plan for her company that led to several guest blogs, a spike in email sign-ups, and 46% more social media engagement—all while staying true to the organization’s message and vision—is more much meaningful than if you simply wrote that you help clients create awesome marketing plans.
4. “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
When it comes to finding ways to raise your visibility, there is no one right way (that happens to correspond to a million wrong ways). Instead, there are good ways, great ways, and ways you thought were going to work, but didn’t.
The more flexible you are with your strategy, the more quickly you’ll be able to pivot away from opportunities that aren’t working and find new ones that will.
5. “If you can’t state your position in eight words, you don’t have a position.” - Seth Godin
This is my favorite piece of advice from the bunch. Before you show up for that interview, get on that stage, or start tweeting for your business, you need to not only figure out your position, mission, or purpose, but how to offer up that idea concisely. Not only do you have about four seconds before you lose people’s attention, but people are more likely to believe in your position when your message is crystal clear.
Imagine you meet a woman at a cocktail party who says she started a design agency. You ask why, and she says, “I took a few classes in design in college. When I graduated, I got into the corporate world and hated the hours, so I figured being my own boss would give me the best chance of freedom—plus, I liked the idea of being able to only work on projects I wanted to.”
If she going to be the first person you call when you need design work? Probably not.
Now, let’s say you meet another woman who also started a design agency. When you ask her why she started her company, she said, “So I can work on projects I’m passionate about, from anywhere in the world.”
Doesn’t her answer give you much more confidence in her ability to do a good job?
A parting piece of perspective on promoting yourself or your business from my marketing muse, Simon Sinek: “There are only two ways to influence human behavior. You can manipulate it or you can inspire it.”
Always aim to inspire.