Rob Frankel - Branding Expert

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Bragging Rights.

If you're going to advertise, you're going to have to sell. And the hardest client you're ever going to advertise is yourself (or your own business). Advertising is about projecting your personality, which is why so many people are so insecure about it. I mean, where does confidence leave off and megalomania begin? To be sure, this is a question of subtlety. One that we at the Frankel & Anderson Research Institute have spent years developing. Fortunately, we managed to boil it down to these few little guidelines. Follow these, and you'll stay within the acceptable limits of egoism:

1. IT'S OKAY TO BRAG. WELL, JUST A LITTLE. We get a lot of clients who earnestly want to get out there and do big business, only to find them suddenly become shy when we create their materials. Happens all the time, mainly because aside from your brother-in-law, most of us get really uncomfortable talking about ourselves, much less promoting ourselves. It's human nature. Hey, lose that stuff. While you may think that you're being self-serving in your materials, let me assure you of one thing:

You are.

That's what advertising is supposed to be doing: selling your capabilities. After all, if you don't do it, who else will? So a little bragging is okay. JUSTIFIABLE bragging is even better! So if you have an edge over your competitors, let's hear about it. Document it. Show them how it makes you a better choice.

2. REMEMBER WHAT YOUR MOTHER SAID: BE NICE. I mentioned the bragging thing to build a little confidence here. But there's a nice way to brag and an obnoxious way to brag. The calmer, better way to brag is to be nice, calm and self-assured. No bashing. No name-calling. This tends to project an air of professionalism that raises the tone of your ad materials, and that's something everyone from AT&T to Marty's Tub Shop can use.

3. FORGET WHAT YOUR MOTHER SAID: LOOKS COUNT. Remember that your site and ad materials are essentially little digital salesmen representing your business. So be sure they're dressed correctly before you send them out there. Think about who they're going to be meeting on your behalf. Will they look like Lieutenant Colombo or James Bond? Both can do the job, but which one would you feel more comfortable doing business with? Let's face it, talking good is one thing. But being the visual medium that it is, it sure doesn't hurt to back up your act with a real, credible look. I'm not talking about techno-tricks, either. Just put something up there that your mother would be proud of, assuming, of course, that she has her own ISP account.

4. THERE'S NO PLACE FOR HUMILITY HERE. Hey, leave the humility speeches for the Miss Universe contests, will ya? This is America, dammit. People love the underdog, but hate to hear him whine. So let's not have any of the "fear of competitor reprisal" holding you back. Rob's Rule of Advertising clearly states that unless your ads say something really disparaging, nobody is going to come after you, even if they have a legitimate case. And for gosh sakes, don't apologize for anything. John Wayne never apologized for anything.

Then again, he is dead.

Well, no matter. The important thing to remember is that you only get one shot to attract your customers, so make your advertising count. Don't be shy, but do be prepared to back up your claims, no matter how weaselish they may be.

After all, there are plenty of lawyers on-line, too.

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