Is your company all about the customer, or all about you? The answer may not be as obvious as you think. 

A common denominator among successful entrepreneurs is a big ego. And don’t let the quiet ones fool you – these birds have even more confidence than the ones who constantly display their plumage.

Unfortunately, big egos are also characteristic of unsuccessful entrepreneurs. One way a massive ego can drag a business down is by allowing it to dominate marketing strategies and activities. Working with entrepreneurial firms from dentist web design companies to aluminum fabricators, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ego ugly.

Here are a few suggestions on where to keep your ego in check and checkmate the competition with world-class marketing.

Trash information dumps in Product pages. Most visitors to a business website are interested in one thing: how a company’s stuff solves their problem or makes life wonderful. Then and only sometimes then, do they care about features. This sounds obvious, yet many small business sites bury benefits. Why? Ego: the company is wrapped up in what they do rather than what visitors want.

Soften sentimentality in About page. Similarly, many site visitors don’t care about the historical details that culminated in the company’s founding back in 1946. For the broadest appeal, use the main About page to give people reasons to buy from you now, such as credentials, testimonials, financial information and recent accomplishments.

For visitors who do enjoy stories about company history – and there are many – either place the content lower on the page, or create an entirely new sub-page where you can be free to relate your personal story without obscuring the business message.

Scrap rationales. When announcing new products or sales promotions, some firms go to extreme lengths to explain how they came to invent it or why decided to discount it. A big ego wants to justify every decision, but consumers don’t really cares how the iPad came into existence or why they are able to get their hot little hands on one for $50 off. A compelling value can – and most certainly should – speak for itself.

Burn the quarterback armchair. Knowing every nuance of cement mixer parts distribution is admirable, but it doesn’t make one an expert on website design or search engine optimization. Second-guessing professional marketing support, or trying to market without it, are recipes for disaster, believe you me. Excessive pride leads to self-destructive marketing moves such as:

  • Amateurish logo designs that make small companies look smaller.
  • Keyword focus on low-volume search terms, just for the sake of outranking a competitor on Google.
  • Bombarding customers with high-frequency, low-value email blasts.
  • Believing the company’s stuff is so naturally lovable that website calls to action are unnecessary.

Be vigilant. Even business titans like George Steinbrenner can fall victim to ego issues:

“In the past twenty years you have caused myself, and the city of New York, a good deal of distress … all for the glorification of your massive ego!” (George Costanza video link from Seinfeld.)

To avoid marketing missteps, follow best practices whether you like them or not, articulate vision and goals but leave execution to professionals, and most of all, market your business the way you like to be marketed to. This last point is exactly how to use your ego rather than let it misuse you.

So what do you think? Has your ego ever led you astray in your marketing? Please share in the comments below.