Arment Dietrich

Three Ideas for Self-Promoting Without Being Icky

By: Arment Dietrich | July 27, 2011 | 

This post is written by Lisa Gerber.

My hometown, Sandpoint, Idaho, was just awarded Most Beautiful Small Town in America by USA Today and Rand McNally.

To say we are excited and proud is an understatement.

Because the Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce is a client, I’ve been involved in the discussion about how they make the most out of this huge award in their marketing campaign.

Around the Arment Dietrich and Spin Sucks Pro offices, we joke that if you have to exclaim you’re the smartest person in the room, you likely are not so smart. 

But there are ways people can discover you’re smart without your having to exclaim it. And it’s important to let your customers know, in a non-icky way, that you’ve won a prestigious award.

Self-Promotion Doesn’t Have to Be Icky

Share the win in light of the benefits it provides your clients and customers. Tell them why they can care. Your bragging right may open up new areas of expertise, or provide them more exposure, or new channels of distribution.

  • Message it with the benefit out front. While first instinct is to say “Sandpoint was chosen Most Beautiful Small Town in America by USA Today and Rand McNally,” try something such as “Book your summer vacation in the place USA Today describes as the Most Beautiful Small Town in America.”
  • Reward and engage your audience with competition. You didn’t get wherever you are without your audience. Don’t forget them.  You might want to shout on Facebook, “We’re so excited and proud! Sandpoint was chosen Most Beautiful Small Town in America!” And there is nothing wrong with that. Once. Can you turn around to benefit your online community and get them involved? “We can’t thank anyone in particular for making Sandpoint beautiful, but we can certainly collect data to back up the claim. Post your photos and /or videos of your time in Sandpoint and enter to win a return trip.”
  • Badges. I’m such a fan of the badges. It’s a tasteful way to display your accolades and, if it’s appropriate, it should be on all your online and print assets. They provide credibility and stature, without shouting or imposing on your experience.

What tips do you have for the art of self-promotion without the ick factor?

  • CristerDelaCruz

    Great post! And um… just in case you don’t know yet.. I. AM. AWESOME (refer to Sheryl Sandberg’s commencement video 🙂

  • but the difference between “Self” promotion and self = community/client/something more than 1 person is the key aint it?

  • @faybiz I think this is a great point. Self promotion is easier when “self” is part of a bigger whole. Even as individuals, it’s so much nicer if others promote you and you sort grab on for the ride.

    Self promotion can be a tricky thing. But when I see people doing it on Twitter, it’s easy to see which ones are coming from the icky approach and which aren’t!

  • @KenMueller yes! Twitter is the ultimate in sifting out the icky!

  • MarriageKids

    @joey_strawn Excited to talk to you soon! I’m on barely any sleep but maybe Friday? I’ll dm you my email 😀

  • HarrisonNick

    @patrickreyes Does your own branded TP count as icky self-promotion?

  • patrickreyes

    @HarrisonNick Maybe…especially if it’s @dashal TP!

  • HarrisonNick

    @patrickreyes It is kinda a really good source of advertising in a really wacko way.

  • It doesn’t have to be icky .. but I’m not sure what really works best, everyone will have their own take on the ick factor. Be humble, gracious.. use it as a reminder that you won’t rest on your laurels now that you’ve won something, as plans for building and improving. Only thing I have to add is the reminder that less really is more. Like you said, say it – once – then move on to other things. Oh and don’t change the boilerplate and press releases to all read “the award-winning town of Sandpoint…” FWIW.

  • joey_strawn

    @MarriageKids Looking forward to our chat!

  • Hi Lisa… really good suggestions. As previously discussed with Gini, I choose to where one of my Emmy awards on a necklace to client meetings.

    Kidding. 🙂

    –Tony Gnau

  • paulardoin

    @ginidietrich Self-promotion without being icky? You say that like there’s something wrong with being icky.

  • @CristerDelaCruz LOL! you are definitely awesome. 🙂

  • vDreamArkitex

    @stevemckee Great tweet. I don’t know if I am sold on all of the recommendations, but they do make sense… Going to have to try them

  • @faybiz @KenMueller We need an icky sifter! I used the term fairly broadly here. yes, I hear where you’re coming from, self-promotion is typically of one’s self/person. But I lump brands and organizations into that bucket when they start broadcasting and bragging, and just being downright spammy.

  • @3HatsComm You’re right. Ick is relative.

  • @T60Productions wow! that is probably great strength training too!

  • @Lisa Gerber @faybiz . I just tell people “I’m a FOG (Friend of Gini’s)” and they realize I’m too good for them

  • Hi Lisa… really good suggestions. As previously discussed with Gini, I choose to wear one of my Emmy awards on a necklace to client meetings.

    Kidding. 🙂

    –Tony Gnau

  • ginidietrich

    @Mikinzie Your flowers are purty

  • It can be a really tough balance between icky and being proud of something. That is the whole thing, are they just excited and will calm down in a day or are they the type to always shoot off about how great they are?

    My small town has the most used car lots. So there!

  • ginidietrich

    @paulardoin Nah…icky is great!

  • Businessop

    @ginidietrich Great article! It is important to not be “icky.” 🙂

  • danielnewmanUV

    Nice post Lisa – Gamification is a great way to avoid ICKY

    It is okay to be proud of your accomplishments, just deliver it in a way that has humility and empathy. And always be grateful for those that help you get there.

  • I typically go to social events with my Burger King crown on. I find that’s not icky at all, maybe a little creepy but pretty sure not too icky. I do like to have my business card in my palm so when I shake someone’s hand it just automatically goes from my hand to theirs; I mean, how efficient is that?

    Have I told you I’m the smartest guy in the room lately? I’m not real comfortable self-promoting, I would much rather you do that for me. Because of what I do in my day job, we do have quantifiable success stories so I have testimonials some of our customers have graciously provided to us. But even then, the emphasis is on the team and the results, not me individually.

    I’m certainly confident but try not to be presumptuous and know I couldn’t do it by myself. I am a much better promoter of others.

    I didn’t address any of the points, did I? It was kind of hard to do and talk about myself at the same time……………..sorry……………..hey, at least I showed up, right?

  • lisagerber

    @angelica7641 Hi! and thanks! we need to have fries and wine later in August. I’m headed to Idaho for a bit. @ginidietrich

  • lisagerber

    @stevemckee haha. thanks. 🙂

  • lisagerber

    @stevemckee nice work on your race to Alcatraz! how was it?

  • I think @markwschaefer handled that really well with his recent post about being quoted in the NYT. There’s a way to provide context and humility in the longer form of a blog post (as compared to say a tweet). I’m filled with icky ideas, which is why I need experienced advisers to help me filter behind the scenes – LOL.

  • SteveMcKee

    @lisagerber Absolutely awesome. Check it out –

  • adamtoporek

    @Sean McGinnis @markwschaefer I agree. I thought Mark struck just the right balance on that piece.

  • ginidietrich

    @Businessop No one likes the icky people

  • yourgreatlifetv

    RT @ginidietrich Need some help with self-promotion? @lisagerber has some great ideas to help!

  • adamtoporek

    Great points Lisa… I would actually add what @bdorman264 mentioned — testimonials. If others are singing your praises, it almost immediately removes the ick factor.

  • AimeeRose95453


  • @adamtoporek @Sean McGinnis @markwschaefer Mrk is such a classy guy. It is not possible for him to be anything else. Me on the other hand…I need help!

  • feliciahudson

    Nice post Lisa. There’s a fine line between promoting yourself in an artful manner and being “icky.” Self promotion is essential–especially if you are a small business without a PR agency. These are painless tactics. :–) I also like @adamtoporek suggestion about using testimonials.

  • @NancyD68 @adamtoporek @markwschaefer I’m with you Nancy. Just yesterday I e-mailed Gini asking about an idea I had – her response? “Are you crazy?” LOL

    The only good thing about me is I know when to ask…. 😉

  • @NancyD68 Wow! that is quite a claim to fame. I was just using their big win as an example. We should be making the most of it in the marketing. the trick is in doing it well without being all nanananana boo boo. (oh no, here I am commenting again late at night.)

  • @danielnewmanUV ooooooooo another one of my favorites. Gamification! Thanks, Dan! Agreed.

  • @bdorman264 awe.some. 🙂 I mean, exactly. it’s all about you anyway, right? or I mean, it’s all about ME anyway.

  • @adamtoporek oh, I thought you meant the Burger King crown.

  • @Sean McGinnis we all need an Ick Filter!! I usually read Mark’s blog but must have missed that post. I’ll go check it out now. Thanks!

  • @feliciahudson it’s dangerously close! so true! But if you don’t look out for number 1, who will?

  • lisagerber

    @stevemckee so so COOL! you had to jump out of that boat???!!!

  • OnlineBusinesVA

    Great post Lisa! Loved reading it.Most of the small companies are still blissfully ignorant of these tactics.. This should help them know that you can no longer ignore it.

  • First of all, congrats! That’s very cool. I too love the idea of testimonials, as @bdorman264 and @adamtoporek suggest. They work wonders.

    Piggybacking off #2, you could also thank your community as a precursor to a competition. Or just a simple “thank you” – after all, as you say, you didn’t get wherever you are without your audience.

  • UnlockTheDoor

    Congratulations to Sandpoint for receiving the award, I’m sure the local community will benefit from the riches coming their way 🙂

    Now, onto self-promotion – I understand what you’re saying here Lisa. Sometimes you feel a little ‘dirty’ exclaiming why others should buy from you, but it needs to be done. If you want to sell something, you need to let others know how good it is. If you don’t, then no-one will know!

    For me, I empathise the benefits of whatever it is I’m offering. Whether it’s a product or a service, I repeatedly mention the good things that can be had if you use what I’m offering, and why it will improve your life. If they see how it can be of use to them, without you drilling it into their heads, you improve ur chances 🙂

  • SteveMcKee

    @lisagerber Yeah, the anticipation was the worst part. Once I was in, I was in. But thinking about it was a bit chilling.

  • @Lisa Gerber One of us; whoever happens to be talking at the time, right?

  • mpalko

    Calling yourself an expert is like calling yourself cool. It only counts if someone else says it about you.

    Great ideas for framing a message in ways that will be better received.

  • ginidietrich

    @UnlockTheDoor You comment on dannybrown ‘s blog about gaining 8,000 new subscribers made me LOL!

  • ginidietrich

    You know what I love most about this post? It’s that I have inside baseball information and you took a discussion we had during our staff meeting and offered three really brilliant ideas. Now if we all just remember them for the next time. You may very well hear me say, “Go read Lisa’s post again!” at some point.

  • Businessop

    @ginidietrich Indeed 🙂

  • Congratulations, Lisa. 🙂 To answer your question, whenever fortune smiles upon you focusing on sharing your gratitude rather than the news works wonders- so all three of those suggestions work well in practice. If that happened to my small town and I was in charge of the thanks, I’d start by deflecting the attention from the usual suspects who’d get all the attention (the mayor, etc) to the people who made it happen, the people who do their part because they believe in it, who never expect to be thanked.

  • Congratulations, first!

    Now for coming to self promotion. This is something I learnt from My English literature class in college (go figure!); our professor told us, the evil exists to make us truly understand the value and goodness of the good. If there were no evil, we wouldn’t really know how good, good is! So, tell them what you’re bad at…not others, tell them what you can’t do but also make sure to tell them what you can do and why THAT good is more important and more helpful and more relevant in the first place! WARNING: Don’t end up saying ALL your faults, the “customer” might not wait for the good part to come by!

    Like, one couple I had for marriage counselling: the guy says, “I am an extreme introvert, and that might be hampering our relationship but I am a great cook, I do my laundry! 😉

  • RobertGunter

    It is always challenging to promote your own business, but if you do not do it, who will? Great suggestions in the blog that we should attach something else to the promotion. If you had a good client that would mention your award on Facebook, twitter and other social media, that would have a lot of impact and you could also place it on your website and blog!

  • Grit08

    Smart people know smart people. And they will acknowledge something well done. We all want to believe we are smart. And everybody has an element of smartness in them. It is a subjective judgement. Critical not to let ego take over. In particular when running a business. It is a fine art getting the balance right. Nobody likes a no it all. Every now and again it is important to let people know that you are proud of a job well done and any success achieved. Some great tips how to acknowledge the accolades with class and still keep doing the work whilst remembering who put you there in the first place.

  • @Shonali @bdorman264 @adamtoporek great ideas. I think a contest in the form of testimonials. a great way to get a lot if you give away something worthwhile. 🙂

  • @UnlockTheDoor I read some relationships advice a looooooong time ago that I thought applied well to everything in life. Your spouse can’t read your mind, don’t make them guess. Ask for what you want.

  • @mpalko BUT I AM COOL!!!

  • @ginidietrich Now you’ve confused me like Howie confuses me. Where does inside baseball information fit into the scenario?

  • @Tinu i love this. Thanks! I esp like: “whenever fortune smiles upon you focusing on sharing your gratitude rather than the news …”

  • @Hajra such a great idea! So I’ve course I’m thinking what we’re not great at – but I can’t type any of that here, I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. But the possibilities make me laugh. 🙂

  • @RobertGunter Hi Robert, exactly. got to look out for #1. !!

  • UnlockTheDoor

    @ginidietrichdannybrown Nice, it’s good to spread the LOL around 🙂

  • @Grit08 This post achieved that also (maybe?), I just boasted about my hometown’s win by framing the whole discussion under the context of, “how do you self-promote?”

  • @Lisa Gerber@adamtoporek I wear it on cold calls; I heard you need to be unique and set yourself apart, stand out from the crowd………

  • RobertGunter

    @Lisa Gerber Best piece of advice I have seen in a long time. Ask for what you want! It’s called communication. If we could all read each others thoughts, it would be great, but we cannot do that, so speak up! Good stuff Lisa. I think this applies not only to spouses, but it applies to all people we are trying to make a connection and communicate with on a daily basis.

  • StaceyHood

    @ShellyKramer Did you get a new haircut?

  • StaceyHood

    @ShellyKramer Did you get a new haircut?

  • Grit08

    @Lisa Gerber Hmmm 🙂 You are a sneaky one are you not . Seriously you are obviously very professional and use a double edge sword. 🙂 And not even a hint of ickyness in your post. Your home town sounds pretty cool to me 🙂

  • Grit08

    @Lisa Gerber Hmmm 🙂 You are a sneaky one are you not . Seriously you are obviously very professional and use a double edge sword. 🙂 And not even a hint of ickyness in your post. Your home town sounds pretty cool to me 🙂

  • MiaChambers

    Self-Promoting Without Being Icky via @ginidietrich @ShellyKramer @MelissaOnline

  • argentbeauquest

    RT @nahumg RT @KevinMinott: Three Ideas for Self-Promoting Without Being Icky via @ginidietrich

  • LisaDJenkins

    @plumheather How much do you LOVE @LisaGerber?

  • PlumHeather

    @LisaDJenkins Love. And CONGRATS to Sandpoint!!

  • Biebert

    @snaps4life Sunanda, thanks for retweeting @ginidietrich’s blog post that I shared earlier. Gini has a great collection of gurus. 🙂

  • snaps4life

    @biebert great post from @ginidietrich thanks for sharing as always! hope you are having a great weekend Aaron 🙂

  • Biebert

    @snaps4life @ginidietrich You’re welcome! My weekend is off and running. Today I give my 4 year old daughter her first bike. 🙂

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  • lisagerber

    @DanielSharkov thanks, Daniel!

  • NancyM.

    These are some great ways to promote yourself without seeming to brag. I like the last suggestion the most. It gets the information across in an indirect manner, so it’s not the main focus and seems less in your face, and it gets people involved by asking them to share their pictures.

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