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Acting Like This Online IS Destroying Your Business

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We Brits are a shy, retiring race aren’t we?

It’s a standing joke among our foreign friends that British people are quiet types, hiding our proverbial lights under bushels and refusing to claim our successes or brag about our achievements.

When we are placed in to the spotlight for succeeding at something, our most likely response is to put our heads down, blush like fury and pretend it hasn’t happened.

Tiger Woods…Faithfull!

Getting a British business owner to admit to online success is like asking Tiger Woods to be modest about his golfing abilities.

Or be faithful.

It just doesn’t happen!

This is all very well and good, but what happens when our business actually depends on an element of self-aggrandisement and bragging to make it work?

I’m talking about the times when we win an award for great customer service, and should be shouting it from the top-frame of our site, or when we hit a magical milestone online like achieving 10,000 subscribers, and telling the virtual world all about it could mean the difference between generating customer trust, or losing it.

A Major Hindrance

In these cases, being ‘British’ in our approach to online marketing and business overall can be a real hindrance to our success.

British self-praise: Like squeezing water from a stone

I have a friend who writes bids for companies, to help them win more business in the UK.

Her job is to call up the company, speak with the owner, and work out exactly why they are the right people to deliver the bid specifications, and why they should win the contract.

Every day, she has conversations with people that go along these lines…

“So what makes you unique? What are your key selling points and features? What makes you better than your competitors?”

“Well, we’re not sure that we are, really. We do a satisfactory job. We haven’t had any complaints. Yet, I mean.”

“Right. So, have you got anything about you at all that I can use to persuade the evaluator to choose you as their preferred supplier?”


And so it goes.

It will transpire later down the line that the company in question has won various awards for great service, were the first firm to launch an innovation in their industry, get 100% satisfaction scorings from customer questionnaires, and have a quality management system in place to rival NASA.

And yet, when put on the spot, these company owners simply can’t bring themselves to speak favourably about their own company.

Why we need to be loud and proud, online

The trouble is, if you have a company but are too shy, embarrassed or humble to speak out about your success, no one else is going to do it on your behalf.

When we hear great stories about large corporations such as Apple or Microsoft launching terrific products, or breaking new ground in developing technology or communications, who do you think writes these press releases?

Apple and Microsoft!

The marketing process is all about acknowledging where your strengths lie, and then shouting about them loudly enough that customers sit up and take notice.

This is why, to make a huge generalisation about an entire nation, we Brits are generally terrible, when it comes to speaking out about our success.

Other nations will rightly shout out in pride when they achieve new goals in their industry, while Brits tend to sit back in the shade and hope quietly that someone might stumble across their achievements.

Taking the challenge to reduce our “Britishness” in our marketing approach

So, my advice today is to be the opposite of British, with your business success.

If you’ve achieved a certain number of subscribers this week, let your customers know.

Tell your readers and competitors through blog articles and press releases.

Put a big icon / image on your home page when you reach goals, launch new great products or break new ground.

Tweet about your achievements.

Change your Facebook status when you have won a new client.

And when you get some new feedback or a testimonial…WOW! SHOUT ABOUT IT!

Be proud and confident in what you are achieving with your business.

If you really are so reticent that you struggle to sing your own praises, get someone in to do it on your behalf.

They’ll be able to recognise just how much you have achieved, and give you the right amount of accolades and positivity to get the message out, loud and clear.

Your company success, marketing strategy and brand identity could depend upon it!

Now over to you…whether you are British or not…how do you SHOUT about your achievements?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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34 Responses to Acting Like This Online IS Destroying Your Business

  1. Corinne Edwards May 8, 2013 at 6:02 am #

    Dear Andrew –

    Idon’t think it is only the Brits.

    Most people find it incredibly hard to receive a compliment. They always try to minimize it in some way.

    The correct response is “Thank you. Glad you liked it.”

    Hard to do.

    • Andrew May 8, 2013 at 9:16 am #


      But why is it hard to do? We should be proud!


  2. Andrea T.H.W. May 8, 2013 at 7:27 am #

    Being too shy is a problem since as you said it can prevent someone from getting the recognition he deserves.

    But let me say that with all those people around the net boasting about everything a bit more of British style would be appreciated. 🙂

    • Andrew May 8, 2013 at 9:19 am #


      I think there is a big difference re: ‘net boasting hype’ and promoting the fact that someone has given you some great feedback.

      I do understand what you mean, though. We should not hype anything up!


  3. Debbie May 8, 2013 at 9:12 am #

    Let me say Andrew after meeting you in person and you taking care of my technical stuff for my blog I have to totally agree with you when it comes to Brits. You are never boosting about yourself. So I shall say it for you, “YOU ARE GREAT WHEN IT COMES TO TAKING CARE OF MY BLOG.”

    I would be lost without your help.

    I do know what you mean about bragging about ones acomplishment though. I am not good about it.

    I shall take your advance and try a little harder in this department. Not only are you good at technical stuff, but you always have good advise and I thank you lots!

    • Andrew May 9, 2013 at 12:29 am #


      Thank YOU for those kinds words.

      I do try to promote my services myself. I promote it when I have a new testimonial. Or do a specific piece of work.

      What’s better…is when others promote you as well!


  4. Monique Gallagher May 8, 2013 at 11:38 am #

    Hi Andrew,

    Well, having been raised by a British father and living in England and identifying with the British part of me and I soooo relate.

    Now add to that the spiritual development work I have done that says ‘we shouldn’t have an ego’ and you have a marketing nightmare.

    Thank you for bringing the British part of my lack of willingness to market my business is a bold way.



    • Andrew May 9, 2013 at 12:31 am #


      I can understand the marketing nightmare you mention. Must be twice as hard. So…how do you promote your business?


      • Monique Gallagher May 24, 2013 at 3:15 pm #


        I connect with like minded business owners and refer business to them and sometimes it comes back. I also use Facebook and Linked in to connect with others.

        I am looking to revamp my business message to be more bold and engage conversations with others.


  5. Evan May 8, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    Well, I think we need a different approach.

    When everyone is shouting the volume increases and it all gets more and more unpleasant.

    Saying what you do and what makes you different can be said without shouting.

    And praise from others is different to self praise (which my granny always said was no recommendation).

    So have endorsements and testimonials. And communicate clearly what you do and how you do it differently. But please don’t shout, it is tiresome. And gets more and more unconvincing (when everyone is an expert it eventually becomes obvious that it doesn’t mean much).

    • Andrew May 9, 2013 at 12:32 am #


      I can understand…shouting too much would become tiresome for the reader / listener. But sometimes you do have to ‘blow your own trumpet’.


  6. Raymond Chua May 8, 2013 at 5:49 pm #

    I always tell me staffs that when you do something bad, people will help you to spread the badness and when you do something good, you’ll have to spread the goodness yourself or nobody will.

    • Andrew May 9, 2013 at 12:33 am #


      very similar to the old saying…do something bad and people will tell 10 others. Do somewthing good and they MIGHT tell one or 2 others!


  7. Rhonda Lane May 9, 2013 at 5:59 am #

    This is great. So, I’m not shy: I’m British! 🙂 😉 So what if my accent’s all wrong, and I have to fight saying “y’all.” I’m British because I have that famous reserve. 🙂

    Ahem. I’ll calm down now. Great article. In all seriousness, we need to be more comfortable with owning our successes as well as our mistakes. Thank you for the food for thought.

    • Andrew May 11, 2013 at 12:30 am #


      It’s getting that balance right, isn’t it?

      Too much and you could be classed as “hypey” or arrogant. Too little and well…you just won’t be noticed.


  8. Wade Balsdon May 9, 2013 at 6:13 am #

    Great post Andrew and I agree that British people are generally a modest bunch of people, time to get Americanized 🙂

    • Andrew May 11, 2013 at 12:31 am #


      Nice to see you here – hope all is well.

      I agree…but not over Americanized – right?


  9. Anne May 9, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

    I don’t know if lack of self promotion is British, or part of being an introvert.

    I am hard pressed to sing my own accomplishments, and I agree that this trait can hold a person back from growing a business.

    I will be thinking of ways I can change this in myself, thanks!

    • Andrew May 11, 2013 at 12:32 am #


      I hope you will be thinking AND taking steps to improve?


  10. Joel May 9, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    There’s nothing wrong with some modesty, but I think most of us are guilty of under-promoting or appreciating our achievements. The best way I’ve found is to use my Testimonials page for this – it’s something I’ve very proud of.

    • Andrew May 11, 2013 at 12:33 am #


      I agree about the testimonials page but do you promote your testimonials page or wait until it is found by your visitors?


      • Joel May 11, 2013 at 9:42 am #

        Good point, I need to promote that more somehow!

        • Andrew May 13, 2013 at 3:37 am #


          Just a quick Tweet and Facebook status update would be start….


  11. Wendy May 10, 2013 at 2:42 am #

    I am learning to promote myself, but finding it really hard.

    I think part of it is that growing up we are told we are reprimanded for ‘showing off’. So to acknowledge you own our achievements then become difficult.

    It’s crazy really when my business is about encouraging others to feel good about themselves!

    • Andrew May 11, 2013 at 12:35 am #


      I think we all, often give great advice to others but don’t follow the same advice. Why do we do that? Not sure!

      Start a little promotion even if it’s a tweet saying ‘new client today…can’t wait to work with them’. Or something like that!


  12. Garry Ponus May 11, 2013 at 11:03 pm #

    Hi Andrew

    I’ve never lived in the UK for any length of time (a few months when I was a kid) but it seems the British approach is similar to that in Australia. The phenomenon here is called the ‘tall poppy syndrome’ – I don’t know how universal that term is but for the uninitiated, it means cutting any ‘tall poppies’ down to size, ie. don’t stand out from the pack.

    The problem is online you WANT to stand out from the pack. In that light, I totally agree with your post although there is a skill in saying “we’re awesome” in a way that sounds proud of your achievements without over-selling yourself.



    • Andrew May 13, 2013 at 3:40 am #


      I’ve not heard of that term before but your explaining is perfect. I can understand.

      When promoting some recent feedback, I just mention exactly what the customer has said. No need to add “We’re awesome…just read this feedback:”.

      The feedback on its own should be enough to promote you.


  13. Steve May 13, 2013 at 3:47 am #


    We do have to be proud of our achievements and sometimes that does mean we have to promote them.

    Excellent advice.


    • Andrew May 15, 2013 at 3:21 am #

      Yes, Steve…be proud and promote!

      We should be proud of our achievements.


  14. Beat Schindler May 14, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

    As a Non-Brit, hardly qualified to speak. Except I overheard this on a BBC comedy show recently: “The Brits have a reputation for being reserved, yet for a time invaded every country they visited.”

    Other than that, I feel honesty is core. In (Self-)Marketing, too. Sincere thinking and plain speaking will get any message across to the people. (picked that up from Claude Bristol)

    When beneficiaries of a compliment or favor have a hard time accepting it, typically with something along the lines of, “That wasn’t necessary”, I’ve taken a habit to respond with, “If it were, I wouldn’t have.” It has never yet promoted a further reject … until next time 🙂

    • Andrew May 15, 2013 at 3:22 am #

      Good appraoch Beat.

      I do think we automatically try and reflect any positive feedback.


  15. steve adam June 3, 2013 at 4:25 am #

    I dont think they are shy, they have good quality of speech

  16. Debbie January 26, 2014 at 2:28 pm #

    Another great article, thanks. I am going to try to promote my successes more and will start by saying that I am delighted that I now have over 1000 followers on twitter!

    • Andrew January 27, 2014 at 9:21 am #

      Great, Debbie. You should promote your progress/success!


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