By: Stella Orange
It can be dazzlingly difficult to let ourselves be seen.
I’m not talking about “hiding” or “fear of being seen,” though I am aware that those conditions are also in the area.
I’m talking about knowing enough about who we are and what we do to – I’ve got to dip into Rebecca’s “camel caps” style here for a moment – Let That Be Enough.
This is coming up in spades for several of our clients this week. Writes one businesswoman, “I met with two referrals and for the first time in my twenty-year career, I have the sense that they don’t just see what I do – they saw who I am. And that feels FLIPPING FABULOUS.”
“Wait, hold up,” you may be saying. “Why is it important for potential clients to see me accurately? Isn’t it all about me seeing them?”
Well, yes and no.
In marketing, as it is conventionally practiced, there is an innate aggrandizement, an attempt to project confidence, authority, and excitement.
Speak and move millions!
Lose 15 pounds in 30 days!
I used to struggle just like you – but now look at how fabulous I am!
Many of us used to believe that we, too, had to communicate and present ourselves in this artificial way, in order for it to work. I mean, I did. You may have even known me back in the full-stage-makeup-and-professional-camera-crew days.
But many of us, myself included, felt a growing disconnect. Sure, we were rising masters of our respective crafts. But part of mastery is knowing that you don’t need to have all the answers or to be perfect to be of service.
But would anyone hire you if your website gave people a glimpse of THAT?!
It’s a question to which I, Rebecca, and our clients attune ourselves every day. Here are some others:
How do you write a website that resonates with your clientele, without the hype?
How do you invite people to your next gathering, without a sales page or application form?
How do you move your people through a nurture and buying experience, blending automation and human touches in a way you know in your bones will roll their socks up and down?
But I digress. Back to our topic:
Allowing other people – including our potential clients and colleagues – to see us as we really are, and the work we are really doing, is hard, friends.
It’s piercingly hard to do it.
I say piercingly, because it requires us to poke through the fakery and the assumptions we’ve accumulated and absorbed along our way, and parse what does – and does not – belong with us, our practice of our respective crafts, and the future we envision.
Because to do it well is to separate ourselves from what everyone else seems to be doing.
Which can feel lonely and cold. At least, that’s how it has been for me at times.
Lately, though, I find myself curious about the cost of NOT making this journey — the journey of becoming more of our selves, and less of the people we are not (but perhaps have let others believe).
Many of you are far wiser than me on this sort of thing. I say this because I’ve sat at your feet for thirteen years now, listening and learning from you all as I write your marketing.
Now I imagine you would declare: There is nothing to be gained from letting other people perceive a false idea about you. In fact, it gets the whole relationship off on the wrong foot.
So, I guess I just wanted you to know that I see you, and I get how tough and vulnerable and even uncomfortable it can be to let all the stuff you are not (or used to be and are not any longer) burn away.
I’m right there with you. And when the time is ripe, I’ll help you write a website and your marketing from what remains.
Stella is cofounder and copywriter at Las Peregrinas, a creative and consulting agency. As our resident word nerd, she writes copy and points out the stories everyone is living and telling through their work. She is also fun at parties.
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