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"Make you part of your product or service... Competitors can never copy the you in your product."
Making yourself a part of your product or service is of those decisions where maybe not even time will tell if you made the right choice or not. After all, you never know what would've happened either way.
Making the decision for the business
When I first started Tee Tweets, I made a lot of effort to separate the business from myself. It was a bit of a pride thing, to be honest.
I wanted to really "earn" all my sales.
I wanted to prove that the business itself could make and sustain sales, without it being attached to me.
At the most basic level, I wanted to make sure that Tee Tweets could stand on its own and people would buy from the company because they believed in the brand's vision and the product, not because my friends and family thought it was a "good idea."
Friends and family can be the worst sources for feedback. This is because:
- They don't want to hurt your feelings
- They're likely not your target audience
- They may not be approaching it from a business perspective
Find someone who is unfiltered and is willing to give constructive feedback instead.
Anyways, as I've gotten into the trenches of marketing, I've come to see the significance of this statement.
We all have personal brands, but there will always be associations between the founder/CEO/executive and the company itself.
I'm fully aware of this and have now come to the realization that it's pretty much inevitable to become not only associated but almost synonymous with your business, partners, projects, and sometimes even clients (e.g., Facebook and Cambridge Analytica).
It's something that's nicely summarized in a comment replied to an investor who had recently parted ways with a company because of the sentiment towards the company's CEO.
Not all companies operate this way—even some of the largest ones have CEOs that are not embedded in their product. Sometimes it's by design, since not all of them are in the public eye. Whether that's for personal or business reasons, well that's up to the individual.
There are pros and cons to everything
People want to do business with people, and there's a trend towards wanting to know who's behind the company. It may be a good decision (and also an inevitable one) if you already have a strong personal brand.
If you don't have a large personal brand, the business might help you build one. I've seen many people take this approach—tie your business so closely together with your personal brand, that when you start a new project, you already have some sort of credibility or established following that'll help you as you try to get it off the ground.
Placing a face on your business can make it easier to connect with people and build a loyal following. People appreciate transparency, and that often comes in the form of operating as if it were a solo business, even if it's not.
Many see building a large audience purely as a benefit. But what if you don't want to be in the public eye? What if you're not interested in being considered an expert or thought leader? What if you just want to let the business be the business and let it speak for itself? Or maybe it comes with the territory—I don't know.
So maybe it's not about making the "right" decision, since there may be no correct decision. Maybe it's simply about having the conversation.
In my case, it has been very difficult. I don't have an answer for myself. I can't say what the right approach is. It makes it especially difficult for me that my business is solo-operated. I have to be the marketer, the customer support specialist, the business strategist, the operator, the fulfillment manager, the photoshoot model, the everything.
I imagine these types of conversations will become evergreen in the information age. Anonymity in the digital age is scarce and virtually impossible at this point.
I never set out to be known as "the Tee Tweets guy" or "the guy with the tweet shirts" or anything along those lines.
As I think about it now, I think it makes total sense to be "the guy from ______" or something similar, given how much trouble people have with my name.
Does being "Hiram from the Chi" help at all?
What do you think of my approach with Tee Tweets when it comes to not tying myself to the brand? How do you feel about doing this with your business, or with other businesses? Let me know: