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Is Your Business Too Professional? Part 1

By: Danny Iny


The benefits of professionalism are well known: increased perception of respectability, authority, trust, and dependability. But is there a downside to professionalism? Is it possible to be too professional?

Yes. Ahem, I mean yes, sir, it is possible. Professionalism is scripted behavior that at extreme levels replaces personality; it makes businesses orderly…and boring.
It’s true that if you strip away the personality of a business, you’ll get a predictable result. This is appealing because predictability is important in business—delivering goods on time, giving amazing customer service, and producing high quality goods and services. Of course, it’s unappealing for a different part of your business…
Why Do We Fear Marketing Our Businesses Differently?
The goal in marketing is to make your business “stand out” and by definition that means being different.
Your business entity is a like a person—there are good and bad ways for it to stand out, and even more ways to stay unknown. If I asked you right now to come up with the worst possible strategy for being noticed in a crowded room, you’d probably say, “blending in.” It’s exactly the same with businesses; if you blend in, you won’t get noticed or talked about.
Commercial: “We’re just like the others: *jingle begins* professional, customer service, quality, low prices, trust, values, our Generic Company is at your service.”
How to Be Less Professional and More Remarkable
Professionalism in business is not remarkable; it’s expected. If you conduct your business professionally and deliver on your promises, you will get results from that, but it rarely translates as well into a marketing campaign or brand. If you spout off your keywords like every other company, you’ll be just another company.
1. Be Relatable, But Different
The best way to be a more remarkable business is to be relatable and different from your competitors. People like businesses they can relate to, and they notice businesses that are different. Combine those, and people will notice and like your business.
Dos Equis has had a mind-shatteringly good campaign for the last few years: The Most Interesting Man In The World. The ad relates to the fantasy of every man—being interesting. Their sales have risen 20–30% since the ads began, with other import sales going nowhere in the same time frame. There is even a meme about it.
“Beer advertising typically assumed young guys were unsophisticated party animals. In fact, more than anything, these guys want to be seen as interesting; they want to stand out from the crowd. […] He is a man rich in stories and experiences, much the way the audience hopes to be in the future. Rather than an embodiment of the brand, The Most Interesting Man is a voluntary brand spokesperson: he and Dos Equis share a point of view on life that it should be lived interestingly.” – Havas Worldwide (Formerly known as Euro RSCG, the marketing agency behind the Dos Equis campaign)
As a twenty-something male in the target market for these beer companies, I can attest to the fact that Havas got it right. The competition’s formula was the same—commercials of stupid guys doing stupid (albeit funny) things. To be fair, these are relatable commercials to some “party animals.”
But Havas made a campaign that was relatable to all men in a different, more powerful way than any competitor, and with a suave commercial the demographic loves. While many brands will “attach” a mascot or spokesperson to their brand, Havas separated “the interesting man” from Dos Equis (as a voluntary spokesperson) to make him even more relatable—he’s just “some really interesting guy who likes Dos Equis.”
You can see it’s not easy. Even with their message, if they had fumbled the comedic timing or catchphrase, it may not have had the same impact. Analyzing success is easy, replicating it is not. Still, that is no reason to accept having a bland company. There are multiple levels of success, and it’s my belief that even trying and flubbing your attempt to be different in a relatable way will give your business better results than jumping on the generic carousel.
2. Personify Your Business
While on twitter, I came across this Wendy’s interaction. It surprised me because it completely changed the way I viewed Wendy’s. They became less of a lame corporate chain in my mind, even though it was just the person in charge of their twitter account.
Wendys Twitter Exchange
This is much easier for small businesses and solopreneurs to accomplish, but how often do you see them mimicking large, faceless corporations as if it’s better? McDonald’s started out as a simple hamburger stand, not a corporate hamburger stand. Take advantage of your ability to personify your business while you’re small, because it is an advantage.
Being less professional was the right choice for our business—and maybe it is for yours too!
Come back next week for specific ways you can make your marketing more interesting and appealing to your customers.
This article was originally published by Firepole Marketing
Stephen Guise is the founder of Review My Post – It’s More Than Editing, It’s A Review. Come visit us to see how we can help you become a better writer.
Published: September 9, 2013

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Danny Iny

Danny Iny (@DannyIny), a.k.a. the “Freddy Krueger of Blogging”, is the proud founder of Firepole Marketing. He’s also the author of the Amazon best-selling book Engagement from Scratch!, the Naked Marketing Manifesto, and the Audience Business Masterclass. In addition to all of the above, Danny is a super-friendly guy who makes a point of responding to emails and messages within 24 hours—so follow him on Twitter @DannyIny, Google+, or just send him an email and say hello!

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