Great marketing involves a hefty dose of wearing your heart on your sleeve. It’s scary, but necessary. If you don’t show them how you’re special, how you’re different, then to them, you look just like everyone else. If you don’t put your true corporate self out there, people don’t know what you really stand for, and if they don’t know that, it’s really hard for them to get evangelical about you.

Yes, you want people to be evangelical about you. You want them to sing your praises to the high heavens, and you want them to do it of their own accord, not just because you’ll give them a referral bonus or a discount. When people do that, they attract more people like them, people who love who you are and what you do for them. Those are special clients, the ones you love to serve, the ones you almost forget to invoice, it’s so great to work with them. You want more of those, right?

Of course you do. Problem is, wearing your heart on your sleeve is scary. It’s scary because you might alienate a potential client.

But, wait… so what if you alienate someone?* If sticking to your values and letting people know what you stand for is going to push someone away, is that someone you want to work with in the first place?

So, let’s be honest: It’s scary because you might alienate a REALLY BIG potential client.

We’ve all been there (yes, even Tinfish). Sometimes we have to work with someone even though it’s not a great fit, because of the realities of, you know, having bills to pay. But I’ll tell you what: every time I do it, I regret it. Those engagements aren’t great fun for either party — everyone is struggling to be heard, resentments abound, and generally nobody is thrilled with the end results. It’s a time suck and an energy suck, and that inevitably affects my work for the clients I really love.

So if you have to do it, it’s okay. Here are three caveats to making it through a not-perfect-fit engagement successfully. 1 – Go into the arrangement knowing how and when you’re going to get out of it: make sure you have a contract, and make sure there is a clear end point and clear deliverables. 2 – Compartmentalize your emotions as best you can: schedule those meetings and work sessions for the end of the day, when they won’t bleed into other client work. 3 – Manage your time investment: write a strict, explicit scope for the work and stick to it.

Now, even though you might alienate a really big potential client by wearing your heart on your sleeve, you still need to do it. You need to take that chance. Because the catch-22 of it is, putting your true self out there is the only way you’re ever going to attract clients who are both really big AND a perfect fit.

So, yes, wearing your heart on your sleeve is scary. You might alienate someone, and it might be a really big client. But if you want those wonderful, holy grail clients, the ones full of mutual love and adoration, you’re going to have to be brave, and do it anyway.

*It’s okay to alienate a few people. If you find that you’re alienating EVERYONE, it’s time to reevaluate your values, or your market, or both.


Wondering if your marketing is alienating the right people? We can help you figure it out. We’ll even give you a free phone session — schedule one now.