- Next trainer development cohort 23rd - 27th September 2024

How To Market Yourself Without Smug Married Syndrome

16th July, 2019

How To Market Yourself Without Smug Married Syndrome

Ugh.  We’ve all seen it.


THOSE engagement photos on Facebook.   Those close ups of a perfectly manicured hand weighed down by a blinding boulder of an engagement ring and the caption:


‘I said yes!!!  My darling fiancé mined this stunning diamond with his bare hands (3 carats OMG!!!!!!!!!!!) and forged the platinum himself (bless).  Amalfi Coast wedding here we come!  #luckiestgirlintheworld #blessed #manofmydreams’


Now you might be a nicer person than me, but these posts make me a little queasy.


They remind me of what Bridget Jones (in the classic nineties book, Bridget Jones’ Diary) used to call ‘Smug Marrieds’ – awful couples who fawned over each other at dinner parties and made her feel inadequate as a singleton.


We hate show-offs, don’t we?


We hate the loud, shouty ones.  We hate the humblebrags (I’m only showing you this picture of my private jet so I can inspire you to be your best self’).  And we particularly hate the sly one-uppers (‘Oh your sweet little house could fit in our front hallway!’).


And not only do we hate a show-off, we’re TERRIFIED of becoming one.  In fact, THE most common question entrepreneurs ask me about marketing is:


‘How do I market myself without being a show-off?’


They don’t want to brag or boast, or become the equivalent of a demanding Bridezilla, but they do know they need to be visible to attract more clients.


Quite a quandary.


So how do you market yourself without being all ‘Me, Me, Me?’


How To Promote Without The Me Me Me


My advice is to shift the way you think, and everything else will fall into place.


STOP thinking about marketing as showing off, and start thinking of it as showing how you can help.  This shift in thinking starts to blast away those evil Smug Married Millstones that drag you down and stop you from:


  • raising your profile
  • finding new clients
  • growing your business
  • making money
  • doing more of the work you love to do


Promoting yourself is actually a service to people who need your help, so don’t be scared of it.  After all, you can only help people if they know you exist!  And you can only create change in the world if you are visible. 


So, let’s blast away the rest of those Smug Married millstones you may be heaving around with you, once and for all, and replace them with some mega marketing mantras to change your life.


Smug Married Millstone 1: ‘What will they think of me?’


This is a real worry for many business owners.  You fear being judged, criticised or scrutinised. Like a wedding seating plan, when you spend hours agonizing where to put Great Uncle Joe with his wandering hands and potty mouth, you just don’t want to offend or alienate anyone.  You’re worried about being ‘in people’s faces’.  What will ‘they’ think?


And my answer is always – who are ‘they’?  Are they real people who spend their days monitoring every move you make, every tweet you write, every email you send?  Or are ‘they’ just a figment of your imagination?


Because the irony is that it’s really hard to get people to notice us!  There’s so much noise in the marketplace and people are so wrapped up in themselves that often we struggle to get heard.  So, unless you’ve got a stalker, no-one’s likely to be following your every step.


So instead of wasting time worrying what ‘they’ think, use this Marketing Mantra:


I WANT them to notice me!


Marketing yourself gets you noticed and heard so you can win more clients, grow your business and do what you love doing.   AND bring change to people who desperately need it.


Smug Married Millstone 2: ‘I’ve got nothing new to say’


Aaah this is a classic that I hear over and over!  ‘It’s all been done before’.  Similar to when you go to a wedding and hear the same reading as the last four weddings you went to (‘Love is patient. Love is kind blah blah blah), and you just know you’ll get salmon or chicken for the main course.  Seen it, done it, bought several wedding outfits at great expense….


It’s particularly hard if you operate in a crowded market, when you see so many other businesses out there offering something similar to you.


But don’t fret!  There’s an argument for saying there’s nothing really new anymore – we just recycle everything that’s gone before.


And, more importantly, there is only one you.  What YOU are saying may not be groundbreaking, but no-one says it quite like you, with your experience, your twist, to the people you’re talking to.


So ditch ‘I’ve got nothing new to say’ millstone around your neck, and think instead:


‘Only I can say it like this.’


There are people out there who need to hear your advice from you and you alone.  People who connect with you personally.  So, give them the opportunity to hear your wisdom by getting yourself out there.


Smug Married Millstone 3: ‘I’m being pushy’


I once attended a wedding where the bride insisted on an all-white dress code….for the GUESTS.  Even a hint of another colour was strictly forbidden. The bride was found crying after the ceremony because her sister-in-law was wearing ivory.


I understand that no-one wants to be a Bridezilla.  But marketing ourselves doesn’t necessarily make us pushy or demanding.  If you aren’t pushy in your private life, you aren’t suddenly going to transform into a brash ballbreaker who everyone avoids, just because you promote yourself.


You can still be you.  The best way to shed this darn pushy millstone is to use this marketing mantra instead:


‘I’m making myself findable’


Don’t you love it when you come across someone you find fascinating?  A TED talk presenter who’s so inspiring?  A journalist who just explains things so clearly?  An expert in your field whose insights blow your mind?  You’re so happy you did.


Allow someone else the joy of finding you too.


I hope now you’ll be able to ditch all those draining Smug Married Millstones that you’ve been carrying around.


Because you’re not showing off, you’re helping.  And the world needs to find more people like you!


Just don’t send me your engagement photos, ok?

University of Cambridge


- Next trainer development cohort 23rd - 27th September 2024

Get Your Epic Email Checklist

Enter your name and email address to get your indispensable checklist and follow-up emails.

By signing up you consent to receiving regular emails from me (Kim Arnold) with updates, tips and ideas on communication along with the occasional promotion for my products. You can, of course, unsubscribe at any time. Click here for my detailed privacy policy.