Welcome to the Marketing in the Wild podcast. I’m Julia from Stratos Creative Marketing, where we are obsessed with finding real life examples of the good, the bad, and sometimes wild, in marketing.

Today, our topic is how to talk about yourself without bragging in your marketing. But before we get to that, I have a really kind-of funny story, I think, to tell you. So last summer — many of you know, we live in Utah and moose are pretty common around here in the mountains —  it was on my bucket list and my goals to see a moose last summer, and I got to see three different moose at different times. 

It was super sweet. We got to see one off of a trail. There was way too many people around it. Moose are actually incredibly dangerous, I found out. And another time, we got to see it while we were floating down a river and we got to see it just eating and foraging. It was just the coolest thing that has happened to me since living in Utah.

So my husband and I were at an event last summer and we met somebody. We were out-of-state, but we met somebody who is also from Utah. And we were talking about all the wildlife and I was just sharing these really, really cool stories that had happened to me and how excited I was. And the person looked at me and said, “Oh, I see moose all the time.” And like totally shut down my excitement and all of my stories. This person then went on to talk about how they see moose all the time and how it’s just a common occurrence, it’s not that exciting. And it just really dampened all of my feelings.

And I actually thought to myself, “You know what? There are plenty of people here who’d be interested in my moose stories. I’m going to go find them!” And so I just think of this story because while that person wasn’t bragging, per se, she like went up to me and then suddenly shut down all of my stories. And I went and found somebody else.

And actually, this is a danger that you can experience even within marketing. So if you tell your customer like, “Oh, this is how great I am,” they’re going to go find somebody who will help them and will actually listen to them and what they’re struggling with. So that’s why it’s important to be able to talk about yourself in a way that creates empathy and authority without actually doing anything like bragging.

Some of our clients are very good at bragging about themselves. Some of them don’t want to talk about themselves at all. And that’s where we need to find a middle spot. We need to find a middle spot that will allow us to talk about ourselves in a way that people say, “Hey, I want to be aligned with this person” and not, “Oh, this is really uncomfortable and they’re shutting my conversation down and I’d rather go find somebody else who wants to talk about moose.” 

There are four ways that we love helping our clients tell their stories or talk about themselves in a way that is not bragging. In essence, what we’ve done is we have found four different things that brag about you without you bragging about yourself. They speak to how awesome you are without you having to do it yourself. 

The first one is my favorite. It’s testimonials. The reason that I love testimonials is because it adds this human element to talking about how great you are. If your customers really love your service and product, they’re going to be happy. Happy, happy, happy to give you a review or some positive words about how you have helped them reach success.

In essence, you’re not telling your new customers or your prospects, “Hey, here’s all the cool things I can do for you.” Your clients are saying, “Look, here’s all the cool things that they did for me…I bet they can do the same thing for you.” So it speaks to your authority. It speaks to your empathy without you having to tout yourself.

The next one is stats. People love seeing results, or they love seeing numbers. If you see a hundred clients every week, they’re going to know, “Hey, this person is trusted by a hundred people every week.” If they know, hey, you have sold 1500 pizzas in a month, they’re going to say, “Wow, 1500 pizzas. That means that people must like their pizzas. I want one too!” 

Clearly., I’m hungry. One thing you have to be careful of is not to use “millions” and “thousands.” Sometimes people will actually discount those words if it’s not taken seriously. Or if you actually haven’t helped millions and thousands, this is where you get to be creative. Where, maybe you’re talking about the work you’ve done. You’ve made a hundred social media posts in a week for a client, or maybe you helped somebody raise $15,000 in a weekend. Whatever it might be, you can start listing out some of the things and the results that you’ve created, and that will speak. It will speak to your expertise more than if you just talk about how great you are.

The third thing is awards. So if you’ve been given an award, that’s a really great way to say, “Hey, this organization or the award giving organization, trusts me or has given me this place of honor.” And because you can’t give yourself an award, it’s another way to talk about how cool your work is, but from an outside source, because an outside source is what gave you that award.

Make sure you only mention the ones that are pertinent. So for example, if you are a yoga instructor and you got an award for marketing, maybe don’t mention it because that doesn’t have anything to do with yoga and how great you are. But if you have a yoga award, then of course you should mention that.

Our fourth element is certification. Credentials, whether it’s degrees or certifications, are another really good way that an outside organization has put their stamp of approval or seal of approval on you and says, “Hey, this person knows what they say they know! This person has the knowledge, they have been trained to do this.” 

If somebody looks and sees that you have a certification, they’re going to say, “Wow, that person knows what they’re doing and I can trust them.” It’s especially important if you’re in a field that requires a certification. You need to mention that for sure. But even if you have other certifications that have to do with your topic of expertise, it’s a really, really good way to give yourself that edge over the competition. Again, without bragging, because an outside source has given you that.

So we’ve mentioned four different things. Testimonials, stats, awards, and certifications. These four things help you talk about yourself in a way that isn’t bragging. It’s not you saying, “Wow, look at all these cool things I’ve achieved.” Each of these things are a way for an outside source to give you approval or tell your prospective clients, “Hey, this person knows what they’re doing and you can trust them.”

So I’m curious. Are you more in the camp of, oh, I have a very easy time talking about myself, maybe it comes across as bragging? Or are you on the other side where you don’t talk about yourself enough and you need to talk about yourself. Either way, make sure that you measure everything, everything, everything. Everything that you do with this scale of whether…like ask yourself, am I bragging? Am I making myself out to be the hero? Or am I allowing my customer the room for them to be the hero? 

The moment you take their spot as the hero, they are going to go find somebody else. They’re going to go find somebody else who will listen to them, who will understand. Just like in my silly little moose story, I have found many people who love my moose stories and they will listen to them! But that particular person has zero desire to because they could one-up me with their stories. 

And so I think that’s the thing. You have to decide: Are you going to be the person who talks so much about yourself that your customers go and find somebody else? Or do you want to be the person who really understands people and listens to people in a way that they feel heard and seen, and then let other people—the certifications, the awards, the stats, the testimonials—let them talk about how great you are, because then your person, your customer, is going to feel heard and then they will feel validated by these outside sources.

As always, if you have any questions about this, please let us know. We love being able to talk about how you can approach your customers with authority and with empathy in a way that makes them the hero so that you position yourself as the guide who can help them reach success. Really, It’s the way to go. It’s one of our favorite, favorite ways to do any storytelling and any messaging. So we’ll talk next week.