How to Stop Talking About Yourself

Conventional wisdom about companies using social media says 80% of posts should be about topics that interest their audience and 20% can be reserved for self-promotion. I’m not sure where the numbers for this 80/20 rule came from, but the overall point is apt. Regardless of the avenue of communication, many companies focus their marketing messages too much on themselves and not enough on what matters to their prospective and existing customers. Often, they don’t realize how much they do it.

companies that talk about themselves

Here are a handful of self-centered messages taken from a few websites. Identifying information has been changed.

Example 1
We are pleased to announce the launch of our brand new website!

Acme is pleased to announce the release of our new website, designed with a fresh new look and user-friendly navigation, updated with the latest information about our products. We hope you will enjoy our new site. If you have any questions, comments or suggestion please send them our way.

Why It’s Problematic
The announcement is mostly about the company being pleased and asking for input.

How to Make It Less Self-Centered
Make the customer (or “you”) the grammatical subject of at least some of the sentences. Connect the dots about how “user-friendly navigation,” “the latest information” and other features will serve the customer.

Example 2
Acme Construction prides itself on having a solid foundation of values and principles that distinguishes itself as a company of reliable professionals with high standards for excellence.

Why It’s Problematic
The fact that the company is proud of itself doesn’t matter much to anyone outside the company. The rest of the copy is generic.

How to Make It Less Self-Centered
The company should figure out why it’s different and why that should matter to others. Once it has the answers, it will be easier to avoid stock phrases like “high standards for excellence.”

Example 3
Acme & Acme LLP is a modern, full-service law firm serving Springfield and the surrounding region. We are dedicated to solving the legal problems that people in our community deal with on a day-to-day basis, and we are committed to offering our neighbors the legal service and support they need.

Why It’s Problematic
The wording focuses on the firm’s self-description and its dedication/commitment while clients’ legal problems feel secondary. Phrases like “a modern, full-service law firm” probably don’t mean much to ordinary people.

How to Make It Less Self-Centered
This excerpt was taken from a law firm that specializes in adoption, divorce, child support, and other personal areas. The firm should find compassionate ways to speak directly to potential clients who are undergoing crisis and change in their lives.

Potential customers are visiting these websites to figure out if the business can fulfill a need they have. The more clearly the business can make the link between its products or services and customers’ needs, the more significant its messages will be.

Of course, prospective customers often do want to learn about a business and read about its accomplishments. They use this information to gauge credibility, affordability, and other traits to help with their decision process.

But self-centered messaging can be compared to a situation where a guest at a party starts talking about himself and keeps going. Soon enough, the person subjected to the monologue will start glancing around the room for an excuse to walk away.