HOW DO YOU REPRESENT YOURSELF ON-LINE?

by Paula on September 22, 2011

Recently I was asked to tender for Social Media strategy and support for a fairly well-known brand in the FMCG Sector. Being a product I not only know well but am also a personal fan of I was a delighted at the opportunity and was able to put forward a comprehensive and brand-related proposal, detailing how I would approach the commission.

Sadly I did not win the work on this occasion and the reason was not about the quality or ability of what I could offer, but about the fact that my business is just me. The company was looking further down the line to other elements of marketing that they would like to bring in, and in the end decided to go for a “everything under one roof” agency.

As with every piece of work won or lost, I take time to evaluate the reasons to see what learning points I can take forward.

I spoke to a number of friends and associates about the reasons for losing this piece of work and the response back was mostly the same:

“Online you can be who you want to be. Pretend to be a bigger company, then outsource the work. No-one will know”

I gave this a great deal of thought. The fact is I do have associates around me in areas of marketing and media that have great synergy with what I do, and I regularly recommend others to take on pieces of work that are outside my skillset. Is there anything different in pretending they are all part of my company? My thought process lead me to decide that as honesty and integrity are elements of myself and my business that I am proud of, this pretence would not sit comfortably with me.

The fact is, with every business model there are positives and negatives and rather than try and hide the perceived negatives with untruths, I’d rather be proud of the advantages of dealing with just me: Clear point of contact, benefit of my valuable business experience, tailored support, reliable and professional service, flexible approach. I do have people I can refer clients to for add-on services but again rather than there being just one person to offer from each discipline, I have a selection of people from which to choose the right person to fit the personality and requirements of the client.

I also took the opportunity to look at how I could improve my chances of winning work from a larger organisation who wouldn’t be sold to the benefits of a small business. Using my connections on Twitter I got in touch with Simon Fewkes at Bristol Media company eckhoCreative. By pooling skilled freelance workers from 4 existing disciplines he has got an excellent team working at high level with an impressive portfolio of clients. It was a pleasure after a number of conversations to be asked to join this team to increase their service offering to now include Social Media Consultancy, Training and Copywriting. This gives them a greater breadth of services and allows me the ability to offer my tailored services to larger clients while giving them the benefits of the one point of contact.

I tell this story for two reasons:

1. To remind you that even when there are knock-backs, take a day or two to be disappointed, but then look at the situation, evaluate it, learn from it and take action to ensure that you are confident in your path forward.

2. That it’s important to ask for and listen to advice but always weigh this up against your own values and ethics and be sure that decisions you make are ones that feel right to you.

3. That the value of associates and working with virtual teams cannot be underestimated. Both for support, joint ventures and to widen your skill base. I’m really looking forward to the opportunities therefore that come from this new partnership with Simon and eckhoCreative.

 

{ 2 comments }

Jim Rowe September 22, 2011 at 11:33 am

I can relate to much of what you have said Paula as I have experienced this also. Keep doing what you do, be honest and above all, don’t be afraid to be your brand.

paula September 22, 2011 at 11:51 am

Thanks for reading and your comment Jim. It’s always time for a think when you lose some work you really wanted but I believe good things always come from that reflection. Being proud of my company and my work and not being afraid to say, yes it’s me, is a very empowering and strong place to be.

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