Have you heard from the Maven of Mojo? How about the Event Evangelist or the PR Potentate? No? Then maybe the Sultana of Sales or the Grand Poo Bah of Publicity have contacted you.
OK, maybe not all those monikers are taken, but there is no shortage of internet entrepreneurs with very small businesses and very grand titles: the Diva of This or the Goddess of That. In fact, I often get asked to help clients come up with their own sonorous soubriquet. But I refuse to do it.
It’s not because I’m the “Queen of Mean”, or “Shannon the Loose Cannon.” I know these alliterative aliases are fun. Who hasn’t created nice, or naughty, nicknames at some time in their life? And it’s certainly not because I don’t have a way with words. No, the reason I won’t create these majestic monikers is that I know they are more likely to harm your business than help it.
That’s why I want to call time on hyperbolic handles.
I know I am going to upset a few people who love their grandiose titles. But the real issue is: what are you trying to accomplish? Do you want a fancy title to help you feel good about yourself? Perhaps you want to impress friends and family? Well, OK, but if you mistake therapy for marketing, then you may find you are making yourself worse off. Take it from me as a former TV news anchor, instead of impressing journalists, made-up monikers make them run a mile from you. It just doesn’t look professional.
And, if truth be told, most business people are also turned off by fanciful titles. Think about it: how many professionals do you see advertising their nicknames? Have you ever seen a surgeon advertising herself as “the Empress of Appendectomies”? Would you choose an attorney who styled himself the “Conquistador of Contract Law”? I didn’t think so. So why would you think crowning yourself the “Diva of Direct Mail” will get you more customers?
(And have you noticed it’s mostly women who create these fancy titles? What’s up with that? You see a lot more self-styled “queens” than “kings” and I don’t think I’ve come across a single “god” to match all those “goddesses”. And I don’t even know if there is a masculine version of “diva”.)
I know what you are about to say: “As a solopreneur, my personality is an essential part of my brand. I need a snappy title that tells people what I do and makes me stand out from my competitors.” And, yes, there is some truth to this. But who says it has to be nickname or a grandiose title? Why do you have to be a diva or queen or, most ambitious of all, a goddess? Isn’t it better just to describe what you do and how you can help people? Isn’t that what you would want to know, if you were a potential customer?
I’m all in favor of titles for entrepreneurs and slogans for business. After all, I’ve long been known as “The Power Publicist” and have promoted myself as “Your Creative Relationship Marketing Expert.” For almost a decade my business “Be Heard Solutions” has used the slogan “Find you voice, tell your story, and be heard!” But notice something about these titles and slogans: they are descriptive not grandiose; factual not fantastical. I really am a publicist and an expert in marketing (with the advanced degrees and track record to prove it). I don’t call myself a diva (even though I can sing like one) or a goddess (my husband is an atheist, so when I ask him to treat me like a goddess, he just acts like I don’t exist). Instead I describe what I do and how I can help people.
And let’s talk a moment about these titles and where they really come from. You can’t be a queen – or even a princess, baroness or duchess—without having the lineage to back it up. Divas are celebrated opera singers. (Look it up if you don’t believe me!) And goddesses? What higher power gave you permission to call yourself that? Some gods may even punish you for such presumption.
I will concede that sometimes a snappy title can help. When Ali Brown called herself the “ezine queen” more than a decade ago, it was a memorable description that immediately told people what she specialized in. And very few other people were creating names for themselves in internet marketing back then, so she stood out from her competition. But Ali outgrew that moniker and moved on to bigger and better things–without needing a fancy new title.
So if you have already created a personal brand with a handy-dandy handle that people know and like, then don’t rush out and change it just on my say so. Consistency is important, so don’t drop a nickname that is working for you unless and until you have something better to replace it.
My real targets for this Cherry Bomb are the people who come to me with an ill-defined focus for their business and a list of grandiloquent titles they pulled from the thesaurus, and then expect me to crown them as the next Muckety Muck of Marketing or whatever.
Here’s the bottom line. You don’t need a fancy title; you just need to tell people how you can help them. And say it in six words or less.
Perhaps the best approach of all is that of Harvey Keitel in the movie “Pulp Fiction”. All the gangsters are in awe of his character, Winston Wolf. He’s the ultimate “cleanup guy.” The gangsters may call him “the Wolf”, but he doesn’t use that moniker. On the contrary, his appeal is that he is all business and no nonsense. All he says to introduce himself is: “I’m Winston Wolf. I solve problems.” And he does.
That’s all that’s needed. Tell people how you can help them. And then focus on delivering on that promise.
What kind of self-appointed titles make you roll your eyes? Share them and your opinions about monikers in general by commenting.