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5 Problems With Using Self-Promotion in Your Blogs (and Solutions)

May 15th, 2023 | 4 min. read

By Kim Kovelle

A businessman in a sports coat is presenting alongside a slide deck that reads,

When a blog starts out using self-promotional language, readers get turned off fast.

Take this blog. If we focused on how incredible Zoe Marketing & Communications is, would you take our word for it? We doubt it. Frankly, you shouldn't!

After working in content marketing for 15+ years, we know how tempting it can be to talk about yourself in your blogs. After all, you want to showcase your strengths and what makes you unique. But using too much promotional language can actually hurt your efforts.

Believe it or not, the best content spends 80% covering a great topic — and only 20% talking about you. If the balance tips, these 5 problems may come home to roost for you:

  1. People don't like being sold to
  2. Promotional language doesn't build trust
  3. It's a missed opportunity to educate
  4. It's about you and not your potential customers
  5. "Telling" is less effective than "showing"

After reading this blog, you'll better understand the problems self-promotional language causes in content. You'll also discover solutions to these issues.

Problem #1: People don't like being sold to

You've likely run into a hovering furniture salesperson or oil-change upsell. You might even have had a visceral reaction to it. It feels uncomfortable, at least — off-putting at worst.

Research backs it up. When people toot their own horn, others, unsurprisingly, find it annoying

The issue: People want to do their own homework and ask questions when they're good and ready. Not to mention, they're already encountering a good 4,000+ ads per day. Most of them won't be eager to read what's essentially another 600-1,200-word ad.

Solution: Share unbiased info

Tamping down your "sell-mode speak" can speak volumes about your integrity. So, instead, offer honest, unbiased content that helps people solve their problems.

What are some of the benefits of what you offer — told in a level-headed manner? Better yet, what are some of the cons? Be direct about the good and bad takes. People take note.

Pro tip: One successful source of self-promotion is a call-to-action, or CTA, button. Save it for the end of your blog. People can click on it if they're ready or ignore it if they're not.

2 TrustProblem #2: Promotional language doesn't build trust

If you're overly focused on yourself, you can come across as insincere and self-serving.

When people feel like you're not interested in helping them, they may remember you — but not in a good way. Sales pitches and promos immediately bring our guard up. It's natural to question or distrust companies that hype themselves.

Say you find a blog that promises top tips for improving your smartphone photo skills. You dig in, only to realize that these "skills" hinge on buying this company's "ground-breaking" app.

Would you trust the content? Possibly, if you felt sold on the solution they were selling. But odds are better you'd feel more irritated and wary.

Solution: Focus on the facts

Building trust is about building a relationship with your audience. So, instead of promoting, position yourself as a reliable source of information and facts.

When you deliver quality content that's helpful, it resonates with more readers. This creates a strong foundation of trust. And it sets the stage for long-term engagement and loyalty.

3 Time WastedProblem #3: It's a missed opportunity to educate

Each mention of your "incredible" or "revolutionary" offerings steals valuable real estate that you could use to educate people.

Take the example of a children's autism therapy provider. Naturally, parents will be concerned about the provider's track record and qualifications — at some point. But, especially if they're just starting to look for solutions, they also have lots of questions.

And that's true of any future client.

Solution: Think like a 'guide'

Skip the superlatives and think of yourself as a teacher. In the autism therapy example, you could address how parents can help make their homes more sensory-friendly. Or demystify the costs of the therapy (tackling your pricing head-on is a huge way to build trust).

You can even focus on your qualifications factually. What is an RBT or BCBA, and why do these designations matter? What is one piece of advice you can offer this prospect that will solve an immediate problem without having to buy your service?

Be generous. Share your expertise, and give actionable advice folks can use to improve their lives. Be a source of support and direction. This delights people and draws them back to you.

4 About YourselfProblem #4: It's about you and not your potential customers

This is worth reiterating. Promotional language is about you — not your prospective clients and their needs, interests and challenges. That's a problem because people want to feel understood and heard. Especially when they're hungrily throwing questions at Google or ChatGPT.

A mom looking for a new school will likely see words like "excellence" and "innovation." But what does that mean for her child? What does it look like?

When you put the focus on yourself and your brand, you're missing the mark.

Solution: Put people first

Get inside the minds of your prospects. What do they want? What are their questions? Create content that puts those needs front and center, vs. your own accolades.

The most effective content taps into empathy. You understand people's pain, and you're offering guidance. And if you don't know what people want, find out! Talking to your current satisfied customers is a good start.

Problem #5: 'Telling' is less effective than 'showing'

When you say you have "excellent staff" or "exceptional quality" or "provide a top-of-the-line service," you're telling rather than showing.

It's a simple but powerful concept. Even if you're a convincing writer, people will question your authenticity if you're only "talking the talk."

Solution: Examples, examples, examples

Simply put: Show, don't tell. What examples can you provide that show how you're a good choice for prospects? In other words, prove you're "amazing" — with evidence.

In blogs, sharing your current customers' experiences is one impactful way to achieve this. The same goes for giving credible advice from one of the experts on your team.

Remember, there are other places to showcase your talent on your website, too. Think: case studies, testimonials on service pages, and industry certifications and awards.

Next steps for creating effective content marketing

Bombarding your blog readers with self-promotional language poses some big problems. In this article, we tackled five of the most common, along with some solutions.

The bottom line: Show how you can enhance people's lives; don't just tell them. Provide value. This builds trust that can nurture much more committed customers.

Ready to make your content more educational and trustworthy? Talk to us. The Zoe Marketing & Communications team will put our 15+ years of expertise to work for you.

If you're still learning or prefer to write your content yourself, get empowered by learning:

Kim Kovelle

As Zoe Marketing & Communications’ content manager, Kim Kovelle brings nearly 20 years of writing and editing experience in metro Detroit. She has strong roots in community journalism and a knack for making complicated topics make more sense.