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Acknowledging being a one man company to customers


#1

For those of you running a one man operation, do you guys openly share that on your website?

I saw Jason Cohen’s MicroConf 2012 talk on being honest a while back and really respect the idea. I am releasing a tool targeting developers (both individuals and enterprise) later this month, and as I am working on the website, I am having to choose between using “I” or “We” in several places. For e.g
"We would love to hear from you" vs “I would love to hear from you”.

I must admit that it’s more scary to use “I”. Have any of you guys experimented with this?


#2

I started with “I”, and somewhere over the years discovered I was eventually using “we” exclusively.

Use “We”, unless for your marketing you are selling on the idea that you are a lone-person-genius type.

Why?

  • If you do employ someone in the future you won’t need to go through all the copy and change “I” to “We”
  • You are talking on behalf of a business or company. Convention (and linguistics) says that a company uses “we”.
  • It helps separate the business entity from your own personality.

You can avoid the whole issue by writing in the third person. “Hypermegaglobal tech offers outstanding services. Since 2012, the company has helped people all over the world do stuff better.” But that leads to dull writing.


#3

One of the things he talks about is balsamiq - may be of interest reading the site as it was: http://web.archive.org/web/20081216012351/http://balsamiq.com/company

On the front page he talks about the company in abstract “we”, then explains the situation on his company page - seems like a reasonable balance of honesty and professionalism to me.

Customers will expect to have a relationship with a company rather than an individual, so I’d write copy in that context, and save the explanation of who is behind it for those who are interested.


#4

People love a good story and want something that they can relate to. So you can use that if, for instance, you are making an announcement about a new offering: “I am proud to announce today that BigCo is now offering FuzzySlippers for sale.” It gives it a more personal feel. One of the most popular blog posts I wrote is “Why I Created Big Blue Saw”. In that post, I spill my guts about how I feel about the business. People love it.

I was writing my newsletters in the plural for a while, then I decided that it sounded better if people were getting a personal note from the founder. It freed me to be able to express my feelings about something and use more powerful language.

For general marketing and educational material on the website, I stick with “we”: “here are the materials we offer…”, “you can contact us via e-mail at …”

This technique works even with a big company. Think of Virgin/Richard Branson or Apple/Steve Jobs. Their companies do stuff, but they often express their own opinions and feelings.