A few years ago I saw an online ad for a wedding-related company with the headline "The [big name designer] of [city]." I've deleted the names used not only to keep the name of the company running this ad anonymous, but also because it's something that many people do and therefore could apply to many different situations. This ad made me sad for how many people market their talents. Here's why:
1. Rather than carving out their own brand, this person is literally paying to tell people that they are not as good as the other big name designer.
Comparing themselves to the other designer only serves to remind potential clients that there is someone more qualified out there and only positions the ad's brand as a knock-off.
2. Very few "big names" in the wedding industry are truly famous outside the wedding industry. Vera Wang is an exception – in fact she may be the only one.
The person who purchased this ad has a chance to own their market for what they are offering, but instead they are introducing the brides and grooms in their city to the name of the "big name designer" that those couples had most likely not yet heard of.
Wedding industry "fame" is relative. Don't sell yourself short.
3. This person will never be someone else. Neither will you. You will never be the Preston Bailey of San Francisco, the Marcy Blum of Seattle or the Colin Cowie of Chicago.
You will never be those things because you are not Preston, Marcy, or Colin and you do not have their story, nor do you probably want to go through what each of them went through to get to where they are. Tell your own story, don't try to live out someone else's.
If you can't sell your services or products without comparing them to a larger brand, it's time to rethink your marketing strategy.
This post was originally published September 2010.