On a side note, I was in Hong Kong last week with the CEO of Shirlaws in Asia. He handed over his business card in a meeting, and had exactly the positive reaction I wrote about in the first of this short series of marketing articles. I suspect we’ll be doing a lot more business there in the near future.
Let’s turn now to my favourite topic: me. And if you’re not aware of who I am, here’s a picture.
More importantly, that’s not just ‘a’ picture – for me, it’s ‘the’ picture. It’s my LinkedIn profile photo. It’s my Twitter profile photo. It’s the photo on my Shirlaws business coaching profile page. If you Google my name, the first page is dedicated almost entirely to me (and not my doppelgangers) – and clicking through most of those links will take you to … this photo.
Much like the business card discussion, I use and love this photo because it creates a reaction. While it’s not out of place as a Facebook profile photo (it’s actually from my wedding day – that’s why I’m wearing a tie, which is something I eschew in my working life), keep in mind that my primary work is in management consulting and business coaching. The image projected in that world is one of austere professionalism, experience, and knowledge.
My competitors are people like these guys and these guys. Don’t bother clicking those links, because you already know what you’ll find – acres of cliched business photos, the most ambitious of which is a ‘Senior Fellow’ at McKinsey whimsically throwing his suit jacket over his shoulder. When people are expecting that, and they see this…
it creates a reaction in them. They remember me. When you choose the image of yourself that you want to project to the world, have you asked yourself 1) Is it consistent? and 2) Will it make people remember me?
I’m reminded of the tag line when I jokingly ran for President of the University of Queensland student union in 2002: “When you’re strange, people remember your name.” Ah, but you say, do they remember you for the right reason?! Good question.
Memorable for the Right Reasons
You can glance at the top of this page and see what I want to be remembered as: Quirky. Smart. Makes it Happen. I’m in an industry where everyone is smart (including my clients) and where everyone promises that they will make it happen for you. What helps me stand out, and the reason my clients are so loyal, is that I also bring the personality.
My personality is completely insufficient on its own – clients enjoy / tolerate my references to Jaws, Sex and the City, Gilmore Girls, and the Harvard Business Review because they can see the relevance between those throwaway lines and creating the change they desire in their businesses. Ask them what they think of me, however, and the quirkiness is integral to their response. And if it’s that important, I want it front and centre when people first see me. My choice of profile picture achieves that.
My Team Hate my Profile Picture
By way of alternative, here is the profile picture of me that my team use in their proposals.
In the 5 years I’ve been using my happy picture, I’ve copped plenty of criticism. Usually this goes away when I explain the rationale. I had my Chairman of many years ask me about every 6 months if I could please change it. I’ve had our fabulous marketing manager recently request we change it. I flat out refused, but here’s what I should have said:
“If prospects visiting our website want mature, experienced, and professional, then they have loads of options. In fact, if that’s all they want then they have better options than me. There’s no point me being an imitation of my CEO, because the people who want to work with him won’t contact a poor imitation of him.
“By standing out as me, however, I attract the people who want to work with someone like me. And they’re the entrepreneurs I want to work with as well. So everybody wins when you let Jacob be Jacob.”
And attract people that profile picture does. I’ve had potential clients and potential recruits contact me over others, in one case because “you looked like the only person with personality”. And even people who are somewhat confused about the photo still remember it, and me. If they read all the way to the end, they’ll see the Guinness World Record reference, and start to connect the dots.
Quirky. Smart. Makes it Happen. Here is a business coach I want to talk to and work with.
Does your profile picture have that much impact? Or is it an overlooked marketing opportunity for you and your business?
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