SME Marketing – Plural and Singular?

October 8th 2015       Sally Ormond       how to market yourself, Marketing, singular or plural

plural or singular marketing

 

This is one of the questions every small business owner will ask, especially when they work alone.

Is it best to create marketing materials that use ‘I’ or ‘we’?

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each approach.

Taking the singular path

There are a lot of businesses out there run by one person.

That doesn’t make them any worse than larger companies; in fact it can make them better. The problem is how are they viewed by larger organisations when they are looking for new suppliers.

Generally, these solo operators will be service providers: software developers/engineers, copywriters, marketers, bookkeepers etc.

Therefore, the pros of marketing in the singular are:

  • It shows you as an individual and your skills
  • It shows there will only be one point of contact
  • Clients will enjoy continuity in your work
  • You can market yourself on your reputation

Of course, there are also a few cons:

  • It could raise doubts about your ability to cope with demanding workloads
  • The organisation may feel more comfortable working with a business with a large team behind it
  • Some businesses may feel the singular approach isn’t ‘professional’ enough for them

Taking the plural path

The other option is to write about your business as though you were a larger concern.

Using your company name within your marketing and ‘we’, or ‘our’ will give the impression of a large team. This could satisfy those companies that aren’t comfortable working with sole traders, but again it can throw up a few issues.

The pros are:

  • The potential client will think they’re working with a big team and therefore will feel more comfortable
  • It removes the question of whether you can handle large projects
  • It could give you a more professional image

But even this could throw up a few negatives.

  • It companies are looking for a more personal service, the thought of working with a ‘nameless’ team could be off putting
  • It could suggest a lack in continuity
  • When they realise you are a sole trader they could find your approach misleading

So what’s the answer?

To be honest, this one is going to come down to personal preference.

This is something I came across when I started out. As a copywriter I work alone (although I do have a team of freelancers I can call on when work dictates) – this is something most clients like because they get continuity across all projects, a personal service and they can build a relationship with one person who gets to know their business.

Of course, as my business grew and my clients grew in stature, I had to make the decision about singular or plural marketing.

My decision was both – most of my site is written in the plural although the home page is dominated by my image.

When large companies get in touch their first question is usually do I work alone or do I run an agency.

I’m always honest with them and say I work alone, but with access to a team of writers. So far this has always been met favourably because most companies, regardless of size, want a personal service that’s going to give them continuity.

Of course, that’s not to say that will be the view across all industries, but it gives you an idea of how it can work for you.

Another idea is to use the plural approach across your website, but on the About Page have a section about you that shows your expertise along with a picture of you. This is a great way of showing the face behind the company.

As I mentioned before, there are no right or wrong answers on this one, it will be a judgement call on your part.

Just think about the clients you work with and the ones you want to work with and decide which approach will be best.

Tags: how to market yourself, Marketing, singular or plural
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