Why Is It So Hard to Promote Ourselves?

How you choose to define yourself and your business is the single-most important tool in your entire marketing arsenal.

why is it So Hard to Promote Ourselves?

In my business, I work with some of the smartest, most brilliant clients in the world. Like nuclear-fusion smart. Run-for-office brilliant.

But I am always reluctant to use this statement as my tag line. Because when I talk about my brilliant clients, people who don’t already work with me think my services might not be for them. They’ll often say something like, “I’m not sure I’m your target demographic. I’m not really that brilliant.”

This makes me a little sad. Because any person who has started their own business is by default amazing. You’ve already done what so much of the world only dreams about. You’ve taken your future into your own hands, You’ve built the American dream!

What could be more brilliant than that?

My Brilliant Client List

Over the past two-plus decades, I’ve worked with hundreds of clients, all of them brilliant. Among them:

  • People, especially Native American business owners, who are building businesses that support their local economies.
  • Artists who are sharing cultural traditions that have been passed down for generations.
  • People who are helping major corporations become more efficient and reimagine how they grow stronger communities.
  • Security strategists who are responsible for keeping children in our schools safe.
  • Technology leaders who are breaking new ground in their fields. They are literally re-inventing the way the world works.

A Matter of Perspective

Working with these clients, I’ve spent a lot of time trying analyzing and testing why people respond well to some types of confidence but not to others.

Maverick vs. Tarlek

I like to use this dated analogy… Pete Maverick (Top Gun) vs. Herb Tarlek (WKRP in Cincinnati). Why is one so appealing and the other is, well, not? It can’t just be Herb’s wardrobe, can it?

While Herb may have been a misfire, there is a certain amount of appeal to his plaid-clad person. Even 40 years after the show stopped airing, Tarlek remains an icon of sorts for radio sales professionals everywhere. He was never forgettable.

The Art of Being Memorable

When it comes down to it, forgettable is the enemy of success. It is a killer when it comes to selling your products and services. The last thing any business person wants to be is forgettable.

Being memorable is where it’s at.

Here’s the thing… Many people start with business profiles that are less than memorable. And having a bio, any bio, is always better than not taking that first step.

But many of my clients also started with less-than-inspiring bios. Many defined themselves as…

  • I’m XXX and I’m an artist.
  • I own a project management company.
  • I’m a nurse who has always dreamed of starting a new business.
  • I own a Shopify business or an SaaS company or a graphic design, or a you-name-your profession business.

Once you get that inital bio up, then its time to start tweaking it.

You go from “I run an SaaS company” to “I create software that is changing the world.”

Can you see the difference here? There’s a distinct appeal to the second one. An inherent conversation opener. The second is far more appealing. (With the caveat that it must also be true. I absolutely do not recommend lying to clients.)

Your Profile is Critical

How you choose to define your business is the single-most important tool in your entire marketing arsenal. The words you choose, the intent behind those words matter.

If you don’t describe your services in a way that resonates with your audience, you will have a MUCH harder time building generating sales and creating successful marketing campaigns.

Before you begin promoting in earnest, you need to start with a strong foundation. You need tell people why you are different. Why you are special. .

But it is very hard to convince others you are brilliant unless you believe it yourself first!

It is very hard to convince others you are brilliant unless you believe it yourself first!

-Monica Poling

Why Is it So Hard to Brag About Ourselves?

Which brings us back to….

Why IS it so hard for us to brag about ourselves? We’ve already done the amazing part. We’ve already put everything on the line to create a better future for ourselves, our families, and our communities.

So why is it SO DANG HARD to accept our own brilliance? To tell others about our amazing selves?

If you’re struggling with this, you may be feeling some of the following. Maybe…

  • You have a hard time defining what makes you unique.
  • You hate talking about yourself, and you REALLY hate networking.
  • You can’t quite figure out how to write that perfect bio.
  • Or, maybe you have a bio, but it is well… a little forgettable.
  • You haven’t updated your social media profiles in like years (or maybe ever)
  • Your website content is kind of blah, and doesn’t reflect the excitement and energy you feel when you come to work every day.
  • You have a great meeting with someone, but when you call to follow up with them, they give you the dreaded, “Remind me of who you are again.”

Ugh. Yup. That last one happens to the best of us.

Why We Hate to Brag

Science tells us that there are a number of reasons people don’t love to brag about themselves.

I’m not sure the how scientific the following list is, but I’ve found there are a handful of common reasons people hate to showcase their accomplishments…

  1. Our Work Should Speak For Itself: Isn’t running an amazing company enough? Do you really have to spend time self-promoting your company, yourself and/or your team?
  2. There’s This Guy: When you start bragging about yourself, you’re worried about “this guy,” the one who sees right through you. He knows you’re not the expert you say you are. What if he challenges you and embarrasses you in public?
  3. Momma Always Told Me: Your mom said bragging is mean.
  4. In My Culture: This one is closely related to “Momma Always Told Me,” but instead of disappointing one person, you fear disappointing past and future generations with your bragging.
  5. Do People Still Say “I’m a Wild and Crazy Guy” You tried self-promotion once. It didn’t work. Your cultural references are kind of old. Like Steve Martin from the 1980s old. You just don’t know how to relate to people these days. So why try?
  6. I’m Not a Writer: This one speaks for itself.
  7. I’m As Cool As You Say I Am: You’re pretty sure you aren’t brilliant. After all, you “just run a small business.”

Building Self-Recognition

In the end, the reasons why you don’t like to promote yourself don’t really matter that much.

What does matter is ONE truism. If you run a business, you NEED to connect people with your products and services. You can have the most amazing products in the world, but if people don’t buy them you won’t be in business very long.

So you need to get comfortable talking about them. Yes, sorry, this includes bragging about what you do.

The good news is that there are many of ways to brag that don’t sound like bragging.

Three Questions to Reframe Your Bio

Let’s reframe how you think about your bio by asking yourself these three questions…

How you are changing the world?

Start your bio with how you are changing the world. Instead of starting with, “I run a tech company,” you might start with “My [type of] software solutions are changing the world because they my clients them time and money and allow them to more time to do their best work.”

What advice do you always give friend?

What are the top one or two pieces of advice you always give friends. Let’s say you’re a baker. You might tell friends, “The secret to a perfect cake is using fresh ingredients and baking with love – it’s what transforms a simple recipe into an O-M-G experience.”

What inspires you?

Think about what makes you sparkle. For example, let’s say you run a daycare center. “I love providing a safe environment for children Knowing that I play a part in shaping their lives while also giving their parents peace of mind keeps me fired up every day.”

What do your clients say about you?

If you’re still struggling to find a bio opener, then go back and look at emails from clients and friends you’ve helped. Who has said thank you and why. What have the appreciated about you and why?

Pull it All Together

Pick and choose your favorite elements and transform your bio from a list of skills into a sparkling, personal narrative that attracts customers and opportunities.

What About Me?

I’m Monica Poling, and I get fired up when I help people understand just how brilliant they are. I love helping them create amazing bios and website content. In other words, I help them brag, without sounding ike they’re bragging.

I run MonicaPoling.com, where I act as a celebrity stylist for growing businesses looking to grow their street cred. I help you get your business identity in-shape and red carpet ready.

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Creating a strong brand framework is a critical step for entrepreneurs looking to build a rock solid business identity. While brand strategy is often considered a tool that only larger organizations use, following a brand strategy can help all businesses–including solopreneurs, artists, non-profits, and even communityfir leaders. In short, the brand framework helps define what you do and how the marketplace should perceive you and share your message.