That Ain’t My Shtick…The Power of Knowing Who You Are in Business

by Marcus Sheridan

Who are you?A few weeks ago, my business partners and I had the interesting experience of having 3 cameramen follow us around for a day as part of a documentary they were doing that would end up being used as an education piece in college business schools across the country. The group had read about us online and knew of our unique story(for those unaware, I own a swimming pool company), so they wanted to catch footage of all aspects of the business—from installing pools to taking lead calls in the office.

During one of these lead calls in my office, as the cameraman stood over me and recorded, I had a very interesting conversation with a prospect. Basically, the prospect had two major needs: He wanted a pool large/deep enough for a diving board, but he also wanted a very large play area with the pool (section of water less than 4’ deep). After discussing these needs with him for about 5 minutes and realizing they were a critical aspect of his buying decision, I told the prospect the following:

Me: Well sir, to be completely honest, I don’t think we have a swimming pool that’s going to fit your needs based on what you’ve told us.

Prospect: Really, why is that?

Me: Fiberglass pools do not get any larger than 16’x40’. What this means is that if you have a diving pool, the first 1/3 of the pool, or about 13’, is going to be play area. The next 1/3 of the pool is going to be a hard slope, which serves very little purpose. And the final 1/3 is going to be a diving well (8’ deep). Because you’ll only have 13’ as a play area, I don’t think that will be enough to make you happy.

Prospect: No, 13’ is not enough, what’s our solution?

Me: Well, I think you’re going to need a concrete pool in this case. They don’t have size/shape limitations, and it sounds like what you’re really going to need is an L-shaped pool—two unique bodies of water, one being shallow and one being deep.

Prospect: But you all don’t sell concrete pools, do you?

Me: No, we don’t. But if you’re really serious about your two major needs of play area and diving area, that’s the only solution I can offer you. Honestly, I just don’t think we’re the company for you.

Prospect: Well thanks for your honesty, I do appreciate it.

After I got off of the call, one of the cameramen looked at me mystified, and this was the conversation that followed:

Cameraman: Are you telling me you turned down that guy’s business? I would never do that!

Me: Our product doesn’t fit his needs, and I’m not going to lie to the guy. He wants a large play area and a large diving area in his pool. We simply can’t offer that, and I’m not going to pretend we can.

Cameraman: Yeah, but selling is selling and you should still try to convince him that he should go with your company.

Me: First of all, I am not dying for his business. We do inbound marketing, and because we’re so dang good at it I get tons of leads every day. I’m looking for great leads, not ones I have to convince about our product. If I had met with this fellow at his home, two other concrete pool guys would have come out and convinced him what I just told him—our product isn’t the right fit, period.

Cameraman: Well I’ve never turned down a job.

Me: That’s because of two reasons: Your marketing has never been that good and you really don’t know who you are. My product fits 80% of the marketplace. I don’t worry about the other 20%. The fact is, I sell more because I’m worried about less.

Cameraman: I think that’s crazy.

Me: (laughing) Yeah, I may have thought the same until I really learned who I was and stopped trying to please everyone else. The moment I did that, everything changed. You should try it sometime.

I’m not sure if that phone call is going to be on the documentary, but if I was calling the shots, it would be the first thing college students saw, as it’s that important. After being an entrepreneur for over 10 years now, I’ve come to this conclusion:

Most people in business have no idea who they really are.

For example, as I’ve mentioned here before, when I started my pool company I offered vinyl liner inground pools, fiberglass pools, above ground pools, retail, and many other items. Today, 10 years later, I do ONE thing—fiberglass pools. And because of that, our company is nationally branded as the fiberglass pool company. I’m not saying this to brag, that’s just how it is.

Blogging Identities and Shticks

I see many bloggers suffering from this same problem when it comes to branding and identity. They try to make money in a handful of ways but they never become truly known in the blogosphere for anything, and that’s why they eventually give up.

For example, folks in the blogosphere know me as a guy with an incredible community that passionately talks about inbound marketing and Hubspot. I don’t spend a bunch of time trying to act like I know all things web, social media, affiliate marketing, etc. Although I may be interested in those things, they aren’t my shtick. But when it comes to inbound marketing and blogging—oh yeah, that’s me.

For example, last week I had two large companies contact me about what I would charge to come out and speak to their organizations.  Both requests were practically identical—they wanted me to get their employees fired up about inbound marketing. These types of contacts are starting to become very common, but they’re just a natural result of consistent branding, hard work, and a sense of self.

But I see many other bloggers who know who they are. John Falchetto is an expat life coach. Wim is a sales coach. Alex Whalley rocks with niche and affiliate websites. Steve Scott is solely focused on helping people make money online. And the ever popular JK Allen teaches people how to hustle through life and business. These are just a few examples of bloggers with a clear sense of ‘self’.

So that’s the challenge folks. Who are you? What’s your shtick? And do other people see you or your business the same way you do? If you know these things, your ability to experience huge success on and offline will be increased dramatically.

Your Turn:

OK, simple question for all readers: What’s your shtick? What do you want to be known as in the blogosphere and in the rest of the world? C’mon, jump in and promote yourself a little bit, plus I’d love to learn a little more about this awesome community.

***Speaking of inbound marketing, I’ll be giving a rocking webinar for the folks at Spin Sucks this Thursday. If you’re interested in having a good time and learning a ton in the process, check it out here.

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{ 118 comments… read them below or add one }

Jack @ TheJackB July 25, 2011 at 11:33 am

I haven’t had my coffee yet and you are asking me to think. Damn you Sheridan, that is just plain unfair not to mention reasonable. But since you asked nicely I’ll try to give it a shot.

I am a writer, father and friend. My blog is broader than most so I cover a variety of topics including, writing, life, business, marketing and posts that include useful information such as how much it would cost to build the Deathstar.

The question isn’t will people read my blog but why aren’t they. How many bloggers out there share their correspondence with Nigerian scam artists and tell stories that others won’t or can’t.

A recent Fouker institute found that after a week of reading my blog your IQ will increase by three points as will your ability to quote random bits of trivia that just might help you win Jeopardy.

And I’ll add that my blog is proof that you can earn money and build a brand online. I have worked with Nintendo, Mattel, CBS and Frigidaire just to name a few.

But the best thing my blog has done is build some great connections and friendships with others.


Marcus Sheridan July 26, 2011 at 9:20 am

Hahaha Jack, awesome my friend, plain awesome :-) That’s quite an impressive resume bud, and you’re right, what blog is more diverse than that???

But loved what you said about relationships man– that’s what it’s all about.

Be well brother, and thanks for your thoughts,



Bill Dorman July 26, 2011 at 4:28 pm

That meant my IQ doubled…………..just sayin’………….


phil July 25, 2011 at 11:45 am

my niche: the on-line house problem solver guy…35 years of trouble shooting and repairing all types of home problems. Wiring, plumbing, carpentry, masonry, marine construction, back yard get-away construction,planning to punchlist…or just plan simple advice on how to fix a leaky drain….


Marcus Sheridan July 26, 2011 at 9:21 am

How many folks can do all that? Not many…not many at all. You’re a smart cat pops ;-)


Bob Reed July 25, 2011 at 11:53 am

Marcus, couldn’t agree more. Square pegs and round holes. I’ve turned down prospect calls like that and referred people to other PR firms knowing full well that I wouldn’t be able to fulfill their needs. You post also resonates with my firm’s repositioning and planned outreach. We’re strictly B2B and work to help our clients connect with their customers and prospects on a more human level, hence our tagline: “Making the impersonal, personal.”

I hope to be on the Spin Sucks call if a client conf. call doesn’t interfere. Gini and Lisa are buds.


Marcus Sheridan July 26, 2011 at 9:23 am

Hey Bob, so great to hear from you and I really dig you tagline– very cool.

Sounds like you’re doing great work, so keep it up brother, and I do hope to possibly see you on the webinar.




Lisa Gerber July 27, 2011 at 4:42 pm

So??? how’s that client call re-schedule going? huh? Huh?
Actually, in all seriousness, Marcus and I had a practice session this morning and I’m very excited. I’m going to learn a lot, myself. Marcus knows his stuff. we’re holding your seat, Bob. LOL.


Tom Ewer July 25, 2011 at 11:54 am

Marcus, how do you manage to crank out quality articles on such a regular basis?! :)

I love your message here, andI think it applies to all walks of life: don’t try to be someone you’re not, and don’t be afraid of the fact that you will never be able to please everybody.

I think we could all do with reminding ourselves of that little mantra every day (although it certainly sounds like you have it hardwired into your brain ;)).


Marcus Sheridan July 26, 2011 at 9:25 am

That’s really kind of you Tom, appreciate that. :-)

Yes, let’s not try to be someone (or something) we’re not. The strategy never works, as I’ve seen it tried again and again.

Thanks so much for your support Tom, have a great week buddy.



Eugene July 25, 2011 at 11:55 am

You mean you’re an honest businessman???? :shock:

If that guy has friends (and I’m someone putting a pool that size has many friends ;)), and they want to build their own pool, I bet you’ll be the first person he recommends.


Eugene July 25, 2011 at 11:56 am

and I’m sure someone putting in a pool that size*** …time for another cup of coffee :)


Marcus Sheridan July 26, 2011 at 9:27 am

Hahaha Eugene, yeah, I try. ;-) Heck, I’m arguably honest to a fault, but I sleep well at night, so it’s all good my friend.

But you’re right, if that guy ever has a friend mention to him a fiberglass pool, I’m sure I’ll get the call. The stuff comes back— it always does.

Thanks so much for your support Eugene, I’m grateful man.



Howie at Sky Pulse Media July 25, 2011 at 12:06 pm

This is a great post. The incredible Helen Klein Ross aka @adbroad aka @bettydraper taught me about Brand Fiction. And while Mark Schaefer convinced me to use my own face on my twitter avatar I did not stop my use of Brand Fiction. This is really important to me and my business.

I am an Alien. My background is a degree in finance with 14 years of B2B sales, Biz Dev, account management. I am new to marketing/advertising. I want prospects to know I am different. My views are different. I wasn’t groomed in the Industry. I have no reason to perpetuate the lies. And that my focus is sales (ROI), not impressions, not cool lingo, not the BS that is mostly what my industry is made of. It is true at least 50% of Ad Spend is wasted. Agencies fleecing brands of Billions and Billions a year getting them nothing and convincing them there is no other way for success.

So I am the Chief Alien of Sky Pulse Media. I come from the Andromeda Galaxy. Often my blog exposes lies, fraud, fibs etc that are being promoted by the Mashables, the VCs/Social Network owners, the Adland Publications, other Agencies. I am not afraid to go on the offense and call people out. I am an Alien. I have a wickedly fast ship and my ray guns will turn you into cosmic dust. I dare you to fight me Earthling!

But we are also playful. Ethical. Witty. We like to have fun while still being serious about business. We love Space Daiquiris and always have a thermos with us just in case their is a reason to be social (everyone knows Aliens have trouble making friends after so many horror movies and campy TV shows). I mean why would I want you for scientific experiments or to eat your brains. We are a bit more evolved than that thank you!


Marcus Sheridan July 26, 2011 at 9:37 am

You’re shtick is freaking awesome Howie, and I think this is easily going to take the ‘best shtick award’.

You’ve got guts and originality my friend, nothing better than that. :-)

Keep them ray guns turned on brother,



Howie at Sky Pulse Media July 26, 2011 at 10:22 am

Marcus I have to say you are a gem. Been really appreciative that I have been able to get to know you. Us Lions and Aliens are kin ya know. Damn humans with their guns and fast food joints think they can take us down. There is a reason you are King of the Jungle (which is funny don’t lions live in the savannah?) and I have a fast get away ship.


Marcus Sheridan July 27, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Hahahaha Howie, so right you are brother….we’re just walking this path alone ;-)


Bill Dorman July 26, 2011 at 4:29 pm

And Howie is smart like that………..


Erica Allison July 27, 2011 at 1:41 pm

I love your shtick, you Alien, you.


Jayme Soulati July 27, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Howie; you are my hero.


Howie at Sky Pulse Media July 25, 2011 at 12:08 pm

BTW Marcus

I used to help customers in my old life find parts I couldn’t provide and do the work for them because then they would call me back for help. I used to tell customers to use the competitor if I could not meet a delivery deadline vs take the order and screw them because I knew I would always get called first when they needed something.

What you did is admirable and a very important business strategy. That potential customer will never have anything but kind words for your business going forward.


Marcus Sheridan July 26, 2011 at 9:38 am

Appreciate that Howie, and you’re absolutely right. That’s how it works—it’s the law of karma— and most folks sadly never get the ‘big picture’ to see that.



Tia Sparkles Singh July 25, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Just found your site recently and read a couple of posts today. Liked what I saw so I put a circle on it (ha!) and facebook fanned ya, Marcus :)

My shtick? I’m a coach, community creator & nurturer for Scanners/Sparklers/Scanner-preneurs (multi-passionate renaissance men & women like Da Vinci!).

Yknow, peeps who say things like “I could do anything if I only knew what it was” and “I have so many passions I can’t decide what to do”, who get mired in confusion and panic when it comes to making decisions? Well, I provide them with coaching, inspiration and strategies to get unstuck and chart their own course in work and life, THEIR way.


Thanks for asking!


Marcus Sheridan July 26, 2011 at 9:43 am

Tia, may I just say your shtick sounds so GREAT! And rewarding too!

Thanks so much for becoming a ‘fan’ too, I’d just love to see your enthusiasm and smile even more down the road. Our community loves people like you!!

Continued success in helping people find their direction Tia,



Al Smith July 25, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Thanks Marcus. This is great timing for me, as the finishing touches are being put on “The CARE Movement”, for our launch. Hopefully, early August. I think you know what we are about, but I will share with your awesome community.

Our slogan, motto, mantra, tagline, etc. (there is another word ?) is:

“Positive Attitude Solutions to improve morale at work and home”

We want to be the “go to” place to improve morale and attitudes in the workplace and create a happy work environment. By implementing the C.A.R.E. message
( Communicate, Appreciate, Respect, Encourage ) and a few basic principles, Positive change is possible. The bottom line is, and it has been proven, that “A Happy workplace IS a more productive workplace”. Practice these principles and you will see overall profits go UP and costs go DOWN. The tools and principles we share will not only create a happier, more positive work environment, but also a better LIFE environment.

Marcus, you know I am all about being positive, trying to help others and make a real difference in today’s world. Thank you so much for sharing (again) a wonderful blog topic and empasizing the RIGHT way to do business.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there, like the cameraman. By you writing this blog, you not only helped him (maybe) see things differently, but also opened the eyes of many others. Remember the Change line ? Change starts with the letter C, but real Change begins with me. So True, my friend.

I will continue to strive to get where you are in business, marketing and life. I know I can do it (even if you are 20 years younger than me, Ha ! )

Luv ya Bro. This is awesome. Thanks.

SMILE and think POSITIVE ! It is conagious !



Marcus Sheridan July 26, 2011 at 9:45 am

Your enthusiasm really is contagious Al. I absolutely love your movement and believe in it, as well as you, whole heatedly.

Keep believing, envisioning, and making it happen my friend.



Al Smith July 26, 2011 at 9:52 am

Thank goodness its not “half heatedly”. Ha ! How warm is that ?

Just messin with ya man. Thanks again for your continued support and your awesome blogs.



Steve | ROI detector July 25, 2011 at 1:00 pm

I’ve constantly tried to determine my shtick and am finally seeing some traction with my new startup. Originally I was the “rocket scientist” who went into marketing and got my MBA. But now I’m focusing solely on Social Commerce for small online businesses and startups. I would rather help 10 startups improve their sales than 1 Fortune 500.

I found the tow hardest parts are 1) being yourself and 2) focusing on the 1-2 things that you can kick butt at.
#1 I’ve been so ingrained from my MBA training to act and sound “corporate” but frankly that’s really &^$*#@$! boring. My natural tendency is to be sarcastic (I have a really dry sense of humor) and I’m finally starting to let it out when I blog.
#2 Originally my idea was to help any small businesses using Social Media but realized that was WAY too broad. Now I’m focusing on small businesses that only sell online products/services and rely heavily on Facebook Pages and email marketing.


Marcus Sheridan July 26, 2011 at 9:52 am

I really like the direction you’re going in Steve. Seriously, I think you’ll be able to brand yourself well in that arena, and rock and roll too.

As far as ‘being yourself’, amen to that my friend. That’s what people want in this world. It’s also one of the #1 comments I get from folks about the way I write—it ain’t that dry/lame/etc corporate speak. I’m amazed at how so few colleges actually ‘get this’.

So just be Steve and smile all the way to the bank my friend. :-)

Thanks for your support,



Lisa Gerber July 25, 2011 at 1:08 pm

that is correct, you rock at Inbound Marketing and do an amazing job of sharing your personal experiences with everyone so that we can all learn, and that is precisely why we asked you to host this webinar.
Love the example. Tough part is, many people really struggle with identifying exactly who they are.


Marcus Sheridan July 26, 2011 at 9:53 am

Aww, thanks Lisa, appreciate that.

As far as the webinar is concerned, I don’t know if you’ll ever invite me to another, but I promise it will be a dang good one—Seat Belts on Ladies and Gents!!

Talk soon,



Wim @ Sales Sells July 25, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Hi Marcus,

Thanks for the shout out man, that’s awesome :)

It’s great to be in the position where you can turn down business if it’s just not for you. You created that position for yourself, and that’s something to be proud of.

I strongly believe that being honest with prospects and telling them when you’re not a good match can help you in the long term. These people you advised will have friends over and for some of them you WILL be the perfect match. Who do you think the owner of the concrete pool will refer his friend to if he doesn’t need both play and diving area?

Btw is there any chance that the documentary will be uploaded to youtube or something? I think there are tons of people here who are dying to see this stuff!



Steve | ROI detector July 25, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Great perspective, I was having this very same discussion with another startup founder just last week. He was talking about how (or if) to help someone who is not in our target market but might go to one of our competitors. He reasoned we should not mention any of our competitors in hopes that they don’t find them…even though the product he sells couldn’t help them.

I argued it was more important in the long term to help that person rather than let them “flounder” and have trouble finding something that does work for them. If they can’t be a customer, why not get some good will out of it.


Marcus Sheridan July 26, 2011 at 9:56 am

Hey Wim, thanks so much my friend, and I think you’re exactly right, being honest on the front end will pay huge dividends on the back end.

As far as the video, I do hope to get my hands on it, and you can believe I’ll be sharing it here. :-)

And you’re very welcome for the shout out Wim, but you more than deserve it. You’re doing great things brother.



Bill Dorman July 26, 2011 at 4:31 pm

If Marcus had a ‘like’ button, I would have ‘liked’ this Wim…..


Nancy Davis July 25, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Hi Marcus,

I don’t have a schtick – I am a woman who has been to Hell and back and wants to help others. I called my blog “a blog about hope and the pursuit of happiness” and hopefully some of my readers get some hope or happiness (or both ideally) out of reading me.

My big goal is to be an inspiration to others, and someone that they can learn from. That will have made all of my mistakes worthwhile to me.


Marcus Sheridan July 26, 2011 at 9:59 am

What the heck do you mean you don’t have a shtick Nancy? Of course you have a shtick, and it’s a dang powerful one—A woman who has been to hell and back–and it helping others through her writings and experience.

If that’s not a great shtick there never was one Nancy. :-)

Thanks so much for sharing lady,



Peggy Baron July 25, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Hi Marcus,

Oh, I hope they put the phone call in the documentary! And your conversation with the cameraman too. This is the kind of thing young budding businesspeople need to hear and learn.

I was asked last week by 2 people if one of my products would work for their needs. I went back over the product trying to look at it like they would and told them honestly I didn’t think it was quite what they were looking for They were welcome to purchase it (very low cost item) and take a look at it and I do offer 100% money-back guarantee, no hard feelings. They told me they appreciated my feedback.

Ok, that’s enough self-promoting for me for now. :)
I’m loving hearing what other people have to say here.



Marcus Sheridan July 26, 2011 at 10:03 am

You radiate honesty and integrity Peggy, that’s what I like so much about you. I’m sure your customers were quite impressed and such actions will benefit your business for years and years to come.

Thanks so much for your support lady. :-)



Murray Lunn July 25, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Hey Marcus,

The main think I took away from the post is the idea that if you were to force the deal you could ultimately harm your brand because of the sale. Why? As I see it, if he customer ended up getting the pool and was dissatisfied they are going to be vocal about the matter. The things this customer would tell their friends may prevent future sales, ya know? Would it be better to make the one sale to get the money now or skip out on it so that you could earn many more down the line because you don’t have a less than stunned customer. That’s how I see it.

As far as the shtick, I’d like to be known as the “Business Beyond Blogging” blogger. I want to take my readers through the hurdles that so many have setup because they stop their ventures at blogging even though there is so much more available to them because they have developed the skills through blogging.

I’m working on a pretty large project at the moment and will be making a few adjustments on the site that will totally reflect this. I think I finally found the direction I’ve been looking for in my blog over the last few months.

Typing this out, right now, actually reinforces this idea. It sounds great now that I’m really putting it out there.


Marcus Sheridan July 27, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Murray, man, I got to tell you that this made me smile, thinking that you’re getting closer to your true online identity and brand– well done my friend. Keep honing in your focus and I promise great things will happen.

Appreciate all your support brother,



Joanne Cipressi July 25, 2011 at 2:34 pm


Awesome post. In my practice, I am upfront with potential clients. I am a personal coach that expects much from the people I work with. If a client simply wants to vent and is not willing to work on building their bridge, then I let them know that I refuse to work with them. Personal development to attain your goals, as you know, takes persistence and stepping out of your box while digging deep within your soul. I want people to realize they are whole and to live as if they are and they cant do that behind their walls and in their box.

What do I want to be known as? My client’s tell me that I have a special skill for guiding them to feel safe being vulnerable and in opening their heart so that they can build healthy relationships with others and themselves and live authentically in the entire life, including their careers. I like that. I am not sure if that image comes across online with my blog, however. Once people meet me in person or even on the phone, they say I am more than my website. So, I need to figure how to get my website to truly mirror me.


Marcus Sheridan July 27, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Joanne, I’m so grateful you stopped by to share this. Sounds like you’ve got such a strong sense of ‘self’ in terms of how you best serve your clients. You brought up a really important issue though about your website, so I took a look, and this is what I’d suggest:

1. You need more video. Lots more. Your field is so personal, and video offers so much more than a blog article or still photo when it comes to ‘getting to know’ someone. (Notice how much video I have on this site. We’re in the same boat.)

2. More photos. Lots more. Don’t be afraid to show yourself more, especially on your about page.

I bet if you really focused on these two things alone Joanne, you’d see more and more people getting to know the true ‘you’ before they even meet you for the first time. Hope this helps and good luck!! Let me know if you have any more questions.



Joanne Cipressi July 29, 2011 at 5:06 pm


Thanks for your reply and for looking at my website. I appreciate the suggestions. I have been working on getting more video…I started, then had a malfunction on both of the tools I use for videos. Did it seem to you that when you were building everything you needed stopped working as it should? I am realizing just how much patience I do possess.

I never wanted to include too many photos of me as my site is about me helping others. However, after reading your reply, I will add more photos. Like you stated, my field is so personal and photos and videos will encourage others to be comfortable with reaching out to me.

Thanks again for the reply. Love your site. You are an inspiration to a few people I know, which is how I found out about you. :) Hope to see some more videos on here soon.



Marcus Sheridan July 29, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Joanne, so happy you sent this and that you’ve set some new goals. I promise they will pay off, and if you ever need any further pointers, please let me know. One thing I love doing is helping bloggers for free, and since I’ve made all the mistakes, I’m perfect to help. ;-)

Good luck!!!



Craig McBreen July 25, 2011 at 2:50 pm

“Me: (laughing) Yeah, I may have thought the same until I really learned who I was and stopped trying to please everyone else. The moment I did that, everything changed. You should try it sometime.”
–This is one of the reasons I like coming here, Marcus. I really like your style and your approach to business. You learned this much earlier than I did though. For most of my business life I’ve been the guy who just wanted to please everyone. I didn’t turn down work because … well I thought that’s how you go about growing a a business. I wouldn’t sell anything and everything like the cameraman, but I usually would take everything and anything. It’s not until I realized that I needed to pursue the work I love that I began to enjoy this all a bit more.

My business is design and branding, both online and web, but I am a digital bambino when it comes to social media, but it is becoming my focus. I don’t have a shtick, but I do want to learn as much as I can about this domain and, well here goes …

“I will use my knowledge in design and marketing to help small business people, fellow bloggers and the curious hoards build a brand and/or break out of routine! Marketing, design AND finding fulfillment & happiness.”

… or …

“Oh man, this is a brave new world. Branding and marketing alone just don’t cut it any more. You need to build an extraordinary online presence if you want people to do business with you. Even if you are already a leader in your niche, you need to broadcast that in the best possible way in the online world. Spread the word, my friend. I’ll help you chart the waters and I’ll provide inspiration along the way!”

Well, a boy can dream, right ;-) :-)

Seriously I don’t have a concrete plan, but when I do get a blog up and running I would like to try to craft a somewhat interesting site that shows my personality, is fun, and with content that is interesting enough and provides value. So, no true direction, or niche, but I am learning from people like you and some of the fine folks you’ve mentioned.


Davina K. Brewer July 26, 2011 at 11:25 pm

Not sure you should let your lack of ‘concrete’ plan stop you Craig.. I think we sometimes miss out on success waiting for ‘perfect’ moments that don’t come. Better to be a little fluid and flexible, so you can adapt and enjoy the happy accidents once in a while. And FWIW your niche descriptions are pretty good I’d just suggest changing ‘broadcast’ to share and/or reach as the idea with social is 2-way engagement, not just broadcast. Hope that helps.


Craig McBreen July 27, 2011 at 10:03 am

Hi Davina, I didn’t expect feedback so thank you for pointing out my faux pas. Yes “broadcast” is kind of like screaming. Thank you.


Marcus Sheridan July 27, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Davina is one of the ‘good ones’ Craig. Awesome lady, in case you didn’t already know. ;-)


Craig McBreen July 27, 2011 at 5:58 pm

As Bill would say … Davina is smart like that!

I must pick her brain a bit more :)


Davina K. Brewer July 27, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Glad you and Marcus liked my tip. :-)


Marcus Sheridan July 27, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Double ‘like’ Davina, great advice.


Marcus Sheridan July 27, 2011 at 1:44 pm

“Oh man, this is a brave new world. Branding and marketing alone just don’t cut it any more. You need to build an extraordinary online presence if you want people to do business with you. Even if you are already a leader in your niche, you need to broadcast that in the best possible way in the online world. Spread the word, my friend. I’ll help you chart the waters and I’ll provide inspiration along the way!”

I think this is down-right awesome Craig and would challenge you to take it and run. Seriously. Loved it and I know you can do it.

Thanks for sharing brother.



Craig McBreen July 27, 2011 at 5:57 pm

Thanks, Sir. I always get inspired hanging out at your place.

I think I may have the 100th comment here :) Now I feel special. In fact, comments are lighting this place up like a Christmas tree.

Marcus, you need a “Like” button!! There is so much great feedback here I’d be clicking away. I have an itchy trigger finger just thinking about it :)


Susan July 25, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Marcus — Of all the blogs I read, I’m finding yours to be one of my favorites. Your writing style is great, and I have to say your last couple of posts have really resonated with me. And the comments — even more good stuff!

I’m not trying to sell anything — well, maybe confidence. I started The Confident Introvert because I hoped I could help other introverts discover their own confidence. My elevator speech: I’m on a mission to change how the world defines “introvert.” Are you with me?

My blog is just about six months old and I’ve been trying to decide how far off my main topic I go. Part of me thinks it will help show a more rounded me to my readers, hopefully making myself more relatable. But I’m also worried about losing readers who come just for the core stuff. Still on the fence.

Thanks for another great post!


Marcus Sheridan July 27, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Susan, your kind words warm my soul. So glad you find enjoyment in my little corner of the web. As for your shtick:

I’m on a mission to change how the world defines “introvert.” Are you with me?

May I just say I loved this. :-) Beautiful tagline and moving as well. You know who you are, so run with it.

As far as what to write about, that can be tough Susan, but I say write about whatever you feel prompted to do. Never sell short inspiration when it comes. Show as much of you as you’d like…..

But that’s just how I roll ;-)



Michael Schechter July 25, 2011 at 10:50 pm

You do two things amazingly well 1) write posts I totally tell myself I am going to get around to and 2) write them better than I would have. Damn you :)

Just to push the issue farther, I think you missed one key point. It is not only that most people don’t know who they are, but the businesses themselves that have an identity crisis. I’m actually working on something for Gini that is making me look at the two things that have fundamentally changed our business, the first being the decision to sell on QVC and the second being to focus in on being the best Freshwater Pearl Jewelry company in the world. We used to be the GE of the jewelry industry. We made everything from $50 toasters to $50,000 jet engines (except prettier). It wasn’t until we abandoned that approach, found our focus and found our identity that things really started to click.

Knowing what you are is hard, knowing what you aren’t is even harder… especially when it means forgoing the short term gains for the long term possibilities.


Marcus Sheridan July 27, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Michael, you have a way of making me feel really good about myself with your comments—seriously, you’re incredibly kind. I do try to write titles that don’t suck, no question about it. Heck, why else would someone click on TSL when there are 200 other articles in their reader? ;-)

Love your company’s story. And love the direction too. We really should skype sometime about your content strategy. Would love to know more.

Thanks again brother,



Michael Schechter July 27, 2011 at 5:04 pm

It’s nice when it may seem like your kissing someone’s ass, but you actually get to mean it :)

Always happy to talk shop and am actually looking forward to your webinar tomorrow (although I will have to watch it after the fact (stupid responsibilities)).


steve July 25, 2011 at 11:04 pm

Knowing your self worth really give positive outcome. Thanks for sharing this wonderful experience. Its really awesome and serve as my eyeopener. I will try to evaluate myself and see how I worth. So I don’t have to give false promises to my clients. Nicely done Marc, thank you very much.


Marcus Sheridan July 27, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Appreciate that Steve, glad you found it useful.


Joe @ Not Your Average Joe July 25, 2011 at 11:07 pm

Lately, my shtick looks like a parenting blog…which makes me laugh ’cause I’m still learning about that every day. (It’s quite a curve, right Marcus ? ;))I’m not quite sure if I have any business blogging about it!

My core message will always be this: If you’re looking for positive ways to live your life, the “old school” methods should be an option for you. Especially in this new era where everyone just walks around looking at their IPhones, the old school may soon become a necessity.

I learned much from my parents of course, but my Italian immigrant grandparents did just about everything right. They were amazing to me. And they were strictly Old School. No reason at all I should keep it to myself…

Must share!


Al Smith July 26, 2011 at 5:55 am

Thanks Joe. “Old School” never gets Old.



Marcus Sheridan July 27, 2011 at 1:52 pm

I love your shtick Joe. That’s why I read your blog. You’re not afraid to look back with a smile, and you tell us what life has taught you. To me, those are the best types of blogs.

Thanks so much,



Tisha | tMedia July 26, 2011 at 12:19 am

This is a GREAT question Marcus! I’ve mentioned before in comments here and on JK’s blog that I don’t think a person can escape their shtick, even when they try really hard to do so.

YOU are always going to shine through, so instead of trying to do what’s popular or agreeable, time is better spent figuring out exactly what your passion, platform and core message is, so that you can communicate it as effectively and eloquently as possible. As you’ve seen in your business, the benefits of knowing your unique offerings are bountiful.

I see myself as an inspirational writer who shares uplifting and practical wisdom for business, family and life situations. Even when I’m just talking about my point of view and not purposely trying to be positive, people seem to respond to and enjoy my glass half full perspective. And I’m quite happy with that.

Terrific post, as always, Marcus (and it’s great to be back in your space after a much-needed vacation and break from the blogosphere!) :-)


Marcus Sheridan July 27, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Welcome back Tisha!! :-) You know, seeing the world half-full is a shtick within itself in this day and age of negativity. So I can see why people are attracted to you, and I think that if you just continue with that, your audience will grow and grow. There are enough Tisha’s in this world. :-)

Thanks for stopping by!!



john Falchetto July 26, 2011 at 5:23 am

Ah knowing my shtick (what is that word?) I think we are looking for who we are. Some are much further down that road (like you) and others didn’t even start the journey.

The cameraman is the perfect example of what I call ABC sales guy. Always be closing, a sale is a sale. Great strategy if you dont’ care about building a sustainable business and you love hit and runs. One little issue with this might be that eventually you get called out on how poorly you advise your clients and how you sell them crap they don’t need.
Back in the days this worked, in 2011 with social media it’s a death wish for any business.

Saying that, I still see it everyday. Trying to be everything to everyone. Offering one size fits all solutions. Online ‘gurus’ who tell you how to make money with their great products.

It’s all about how we use our skills and knowledge to help others. But first we need to know what they are.
I worked abroad all my professional life, I started businesses in challenging environments, my experiences and the success skills I used are specialized. I don’t speak to everyone, I focus my attention on those who feel like strangers in a foreign land.
Does it mean I loose potential clients? Absolutely, but I don’t want to be everything for everyone. Just something to some.


Erica Allison July 27, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Well-said, John! I agree, the ABC sales guy is the kiss of death and for me, almost killed my business. I was taking on anything and everything, no matter the fit, having to bring in subs to help me finish up projects that just weren’t profitable. It wasn’t until I clearly defined what I will do, based on my strengths and what’s sustainable for my business, that things began to turn around. I feel like I’m finally on the right path and it’s because I say no more now than I did before.

You can’t be everything to everyone!


Marcus Sheridan July 27, 2011 at 1:57 pm

GREAT point Erica. The moment you started saying ‘no’ often was the moment your business began its upswing. That’s awesome.



Craig McBreen July 27, 2011 at 5:50 pm


I was the same way with my business. When I finally started saying “NO” not only did my business change for the better, so did my quality of life, big time! I do have a family and I would much rather spend time with them then work on some boring old project I didn’t want to do in the first place.


Marcus Sheridan July 27, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Well said, as always JF. You know who you are as well as anyone online that I’ve seen. I’m not just saying that because I consider you a close friend, I’m saying that because it’s true, and anyone that’s looking to see a real-life application of ‘shtick branding’ should go to your blog. :-)

Cheers brother,



Martina July 26, 2011 at 9:52 am

Hey, Marcus- Great article as usual. You have brought up something many business people overlook. It is important to be honest with your customers and yourself. That’s called integrity.
I often tell my patients that if I learned nothing else in medical school, I learned what I was NOT good at and who and where to refer those people to. Yes, I send away things that I might be able to take care of. But I know someone who can do a much better job. My most important service to the patient is to get them the best care I know how. And that’s not always me, no matter how good I think I am.


Marcus Sheridan July 27, 2011 at 1:12 pm

You’ve got such the right approach Martina, and it shows that your customers come first. I think that’s simply awesome. Like you said, one of the great keys to success is learning what we are good at, and what we’re not. Once we have an identity, we can then bless others with work, and naturally it will come back to us in the future.

Thanks so much for stopping by Martina, I always appreciate it.



Lee Kirkby July 26, 2011 at 11:00 am

Great story Marcus. It is so hard in any small business to walk away from business, even when you know it is not right for you. I love your focus on what is best for the client, not just making the sale. So hard for most people to learn in many areas of life. As the Rotary 4 way test says, “Is it fair to all concerned?”. You demonstrated why is has value and works..

My Schtick in blogging is to try to educate people who read my material about our industry (document production and management) and how they can get the best value for their investment. Not an exciting industry but one which hits every business in small or large ways.

Keep up the good work it encourages me to keep writing and I am also a Hubspot user and fan…they are awesome.


Marcus Sheridan July 27, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Hi Lee!! Love it when I see new Hubspotters and Inbound Marketers in the house :-) I think it’s awesome you know who you are and what you need to be doing, and I certainly hope this blog helps inspire further inbound marketing and ‘shtick’ success for your business. BTW, in a few weeks I’ll be launching a Hubspot/Inbound Marketing ebook (FREE) and newsletter as well, so keep your eyes opened for that.

Hope you keep coming back Lee, and if you ever need any free advice, let me know.



Christina Pappas July 26, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Havent quite figured out the answer to your question yet but man o man this post brings back some memories! So Seth Godin has this thing about ‘poking the box’ right? But how many times can you poke it before you realize its un-pokable? In a recent company (not naming any names), no matter who the company was or who we were talking to and what the problem was that they had, we were going to sell them our solution and make it work. Our developers went nuts trying to configure instances on a customer to customer basis because we were all over the place. Senior management always ‘knew’ someone at the prospect company and put it a call to convince them to buy from us. I learned that it was all very political and we were no longer solving problems but selling to ‘friendly’ companies who didnt even use us (most of the time they had our competitor installed and bought us to buy us but never used). Seriously! I love that you turn down business. Its those businesses that try to force their product down your throat and bend over backwards to get a sale that make me nervous.


Marcus Sheridan July 27, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Bet if the ‘company that shall not be named’ had been using inbound marketing effectively they wouldn’t have had to have such a poor approach, ehhh Christina? ;-) You bring up such a great point though— When our marketing is poor we sell things we shouldn’t. —This, at some point, will come back to haunt us, no two ways around it.

Appreciate your thoughts lady! :-)



Bill Dorman July 26, 2011 at 4:48 pm

In my payin’ gig we definitely have an ‘ideal’ or ‘target’ customer. If it’s not a good fit, we won’t waste each other’s time and it keeps us from looking bad trying to place a square peg in a round hole. We are not ‘one size fits all’.

I’m a relationship guy; through my relationships I am a connector. I’m able to access the right resources to provide value for my customers which makes them more efficient and quantifiably more profitable. That sounded kind of salesy, but it’s exactly what we do; it’s what keeps us from being just a vendor.

That’s my schtick in the blogosphere as well. I’m a relationship person, no more, no less. If my relationships allows me to find ways to help you or vice versa; then it’s a win. If all I get out of this is the opportunity to know you and watch you grow too, then it’s still a win.

What do they say if you have to tell people you are the smartest guy in the room? I’ll just say, I’m very confident at what I do in my day job. I’m the front line guy and responsible for making sure all the pieces fit in the puzzle, but we have a great team @LanierUpshaw that makes it happen.

That’s my story today and I’m sticking with it.


Davina K. Brewer July 26, 2011 at 11:30 pm

It’s a good story Bill.. the other thing I was thinking was ‘order taker.’ When you build relationships and connect people, you’re more concerned with fulfilling their needs – like Marcus’ post – than just selling stuff or taking orders as a vendor.


Marcus Sheridan July 27, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Love your words here Bill. And love how you took what you’ve been great at in business, and applied it to your online shtick as well. You’ve branded your identity as a relationship guy as well as anyone my friend, and you really bring value to the table. Thanks for all you do Bill, and your support as well.



Adam Toporek July 26, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Marcus, I think it’s great that you passed on the client. Being true to who you are as a person is obviously important, but just as important is being true to your brand promise as a business. You do what you do, and you do it well — but it cannot be everything to all people.

In business, defining that promise is so important because the lines are blurrier in business. I bet that cameraman would have understood if a dentist turned away orthodontic work, but he could not grasp that you only do one type of pool.

Great points as always!


Marcus Sheridan July 27, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Hmmm, really nice metaphor Adam with the dentist. It’s funny how different fields have different perceptions—and in this case, such a perception only devalues the product or service if it ‘fits everybody’.

Really appreciate your support my friend.



Riley Harrison July 26, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Hey Marcus,
I think what you are saying is to figure out who you are and have the courage to be that person.


Marcus Sheridan July 27, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Exactly Riley. Perfectly put. :-)

Thanks for dropping by sir,



Clark Minn July 26, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Hi Marcus…This is actually a great story…This makes me realize that we can keep blogging as long as we want and make sure we love it…Thanks for sharing the post…


Marcus Sheridan July 27, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Glad you got something out of it Clark. Hope you’ll come back again. :-)



leon Noone July 26, 2011 at 9:02 pm

G’Day Marcus,
There’s an old story about a speaker at a marketing conference asking his audience, “What does Helena Rubenstein sell?” After fielding all sorts of answers for a little while he said,”Stop! I’ll tell you what Helene Rubenstein sells. Helena Rubenstein sells Hope!”

My shtick–whatever that is–is improving on job performance of employees without using training courses. My target market is small-medium business.

That’s the other thing. Ya gotta have a crystal clear business focus–shtick if you like. But you’ve also gotta have a narrow, specific, clearly defined target market. And it sure as hell helps if you’ve read your Ries and Trout.

To quote Mark Twain again; “It aint what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for certain that just aint so.”

Look up the history of Toyr’R’ Us.

Swim On!



Marcus Sheridan July 27, 2011 at 12:35 pm

There you go again my old friend—making me smile and think really deep at the same time. ;-) But I’ve gotta be honest with you Leon, I’m thrilled to have actually taught you a word versus the other way around, that’s a first! ;-)

Great point about target market. In fact, I often tell clients, within the first few minutes, “I might not be the guy for you, and that’s OK. Let’s figure it out.”

Thanks for all the great wisdom you bring to TSL every time you stop in my friend.



Davina K. Brewer July 26, 2011 at 11:44 pm

I’ll see Michael’s “damn you” and raise you some fist shaking Marcus. :-) Except I can’t write this as I struggle with my schtick. I’m a Jill of many trades, so it varies per client need. Sometimes I’m the tech guru (introduced someone to Google tonight, who didn’t realize there was Docs and tools and apps, other than search and mail). Sometimes designer, often the writer and storyteller, media relations pro.

Paul Wolfe hasn’t commented yet, so I’ll try to share his circles theory. Take what you can market, sell in one circle; then take what you’re really good at, what you like and do better than others in another. Where they overlap is your schtick. (Hope I got that right.. just loved that and think it’s a blog post in and of itself.)

Per what Riley and others have said, right now this is my schtick: just being me. WYSIWYG. I like your story because it’s about working smarter, having the strength and being in the position to say ‘no’ to the wrong opportunity. Not everyone can do that. I’m working on that, being me and sticking to my style .. and if it’s not the right fit, best of luck for both of us. FWIW.


Marcus Sheridan July 27, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Hmm, your point about Paul is awesome Davina. I hadn’t read that, but I love it, and it makes complete sense. (That Paul guy is a smart cat btw).

You know D’, it’s possible that your shtick could be ‘Jill of all trades’. Not that I’m saying it should be, but there is certainly a case to be made for such. Either way, I think you rock and hope your personal biz continues in the right direction.



Davina K. Brewer July 27, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Paul is a smart one.. just loved that comment when he left it. I’m pretty sure that is my schtick Marcus and yet it’s the Catch-22.. why there are 3 hats instead of clear one. I’m a generalist and fill in for different clients in different ways, often as their ‘full-time’ MarComm manager, just in a off-site, part-time consulting way. One of these days I’ll just lock myself in the office and MAKE myself redo the website, strip things down to simply explaining that schtick in ways people can better understand.


Jake July 27, 2011 at 3:06 am

Hi Marcus, your post reminds me of my boss in one of my previous employment. He tells me not to be afraid of “firing your customer.” Some clients you just can’t and won’t meet their expectations, so why waste their time and yours. It can’t be more true today; as an online marketer, I am deluged with so many products and options in this field you soon realize time is limited and you can’t do everything.


Marcus Sheridan July 27, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Exactly Jake, you clearly cannot do everything. At first, once we start online, we think we can. Then reality sets in and kicks our butts. BTW, I just did not too long ago an article about firing your customers—an incredibly important part of any business.

Thanks so much for stopping by Jake, hope you find all the web success you’re looking for.



Tony Hastings July 27, 2011 at 3:49 am

This is an interesting question for me at the moment Marcus as I think I know what my ‘shtick’ is but I am wondering if it should be something else! Good word by the way, not sure what the British equivalent would be :-)

Like Davina I think my thing is being myself and letting my personality shine through the blog. I started out as a bit of fun just to see if I would enjoy blogging (which I do) and if I would be able to connect with other people (which I have). So far so good and that bit has been straightforward but with success has come opportunities and choices which make sticking to what you do more difficult.

So far I have been writing myself and inviting some great guests to contribute content but now, with the increased numbers of visitors I am now getting approaches from businesses to publish content with links to themselves and to advertise on the blog. This is good, I am sure it is as it’s an opportunity to have some income but a bit like your pool prospect I find myself questioning whether it’s right for me to take on that business.

So the question I am wrestling with is do I start to publish this content which might spoil the relationships I have built with people who enjoy what I do? If that happens will all the fun I have been having with the blog ebb away? Should I have another blog for all that stuff where I could have another shtick?

My answer to your question is therefore yes I know what my shtick is but I am tempted to change it. Should I stick to my shtick or try a new one, can I have two shticks? Tough questions to answer and like Susan I am spending my time sitting on the fence, maybe your thoughtful post will help me to sway one way or the other :-)


Marcus Sheridan July 27, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Hahaha Tony, loved this line—->Should I stick to my shtick or try a new one, can I have two shticks? ….Not only was it funny, but also incredibly important, and I’m honored that you’ve asked for my input. Here’s what I think:

If you’re like the majority of the world (there are a few exceptions), two shticks DON’T work. We think they will, but inevitably we spend more time, effort, and focus on one versus another. And if you’re going to do it, why not be great, right?

That being said, I do understand what you mean about your audience. It is a tough call. Just keep in mind that those that actually comment on your blog represent less than 1-2% of the actual visitors, and unfortunately sometimes we base all our decisions on the minority that is the commenters. Not that commenters aren’t important, it’s just that they don’t represent the whole, make sense?

I would ask you this Tony: What is more important, making relationships or making money? Although both can be achieved, it appears that is your question at the moment. Maybe you should seek the method that allows you to achieve both— a win/win. For example, from my blog I do a lot of coaching and speaking engagements. These things pay very nice money. But I don’t litter the content with ads and stuff. It’s not my style and I’m not looking for nickels here and there. Thus, I increase in relationships and in profits. But again, that’s my thing.

Hope this helps a little Tony. If you ever want to skype and talk about it further, let me know. Good luck!!



Tony Hastings July 27, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Thanks for such a full reply Marcus, in answer to your pertinent question it’s relationships first and money second but they are definitely not mutually exclusive. I have already decided I will stick with one shtick, as you say trying to have split personality is doomed to failure however good my intentions.

I think the way forward for me is to continue being true to myself and doing what I do well while trying to push the boundaries a little at a time until I find out where the limits are, after all if we don’t push a little to keep moving forward we soon find ourselves in reverse!

Thanks again for your valuable input Marcus, I may well take you up on that Skype offer some time soon :-)


Stuart July 27, 2011 at 7:20 am

I believe that my shtick is that I’m ‘the personal development guy who genuinely wants to help others’. Now, it’s not a original shtick, as there are others who could fit into this mold. But what I try to do that will make myself unique is that I’ve learned a lot of insights that I believe will help others become better people.

It’s very easy to recite an 8-step formula that will improve your life, which so many do, but it’s another thing entirely to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of motivating others, and why chasing material goods won’t lead to happiness. That’s what I have the guts to do, and it’s this that separates me from the crowd.

I want to help people help themselves, and if that’s my ultimate, defining shtick, then I’ll be happy with that :-)


Marcus Sheridan July 27, 2011 at 11:58 am

And I think that shtick is freaking awesome Stu, and if someone had asked me what yours was, that’s exactly what I would have said. You do have unique insights. You’re clearly not like everyone else. And your blog and efforts radiate the fact that you truly ‘care’. Well done my friend!



Jayme Soulati July 27, 2011 at 10:30 am

This post inspired me automatically; I began to write furiously and, lo, here’s my answer to your challenge — a brand new blog post to help drive this discussion, Marcus. I didn’t want to take your valuable comments section with my flubber; rather, I thought it more valuable to broaden this to my community, too, and see if others will join you here. You jazzed me with this post; inspiration has never come that quickly and here you’ve done it. Thanks, thanks. EXCELLENT thought starter.


Marcus Sheridan July 27, 2011 at 10:53 am

Awww Jayme, you make a Lion feel way too good girl!! Well I’m flattered, honored, and dang happy to help. :-)

GREAT post btw!



Sean McGinnis July 27, 2011 at 11:50 am

To me, this is the business equivalent of the old adage:

“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

I can see taking any type of business as you’re just getting started out, but it’s imperative to know what you do best and who your customers are.


Marcus Sheridan July 27, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Yeah, with you Sean. In fact, I’d say it’s imperative to find that ‘shtick’ out as soon as heavenly possible when just starting, otherwise we might sink our business before it ever even launches.

Good to see you man, thanks for dropping by.



Erica Allison July 27, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Marcus, excellent post as always. I read Jayme’s first and headed over here to see what all the fuss was about! :) It’s very timely for me, as I mentioned in a comment above to John F…I nearly lost what I had put into my business this year because I veered off from doing what I do best to doing what I could do for anyone that wanted me to do it. Bad. Idea.

It was when I came up for air, and still clearing out the ill-fitted projects mind you, that I realized very clearly to focus only on what I do best and to refer clients on to someone else when it’s not a fit. Les McKeown’s book, Predictable Success and subsequent interactions with Les left a big impression on me. The one quote that I wrote down on legal paper, with a purple sharpie is “Focus ruthlessly on finding your Profitable, Sustainable market!”. Since I began focusing on that 3 months ago, things are much more in focus for me.

I also check in physically to how I feel when I’m about to do something outside those parameters or outside my comfort zone…if it’s a tightening of the chest or throat, I need to say no or find someone else to do the work instead. No doubt about it.

My shtick, you ask? I have a laser like focus on your bottom line, the ROI for my services, and making sure that I apply the right strategy to the right public relations, marketing, or integrated social media approach for me clients. I seek out the client’s goals, their strengths and challenges, and then utilize that knowledge to deliver results that either build their brand, position them to bring in more clients, or enhance their brand in the market. If I don’t deliver results, as agreed upon up front, then I’m not doing my job.

Thanks, Marcus. Thanks to jayme for sending me over!


John Sherry July 27, 2011 at 2:38 pm

I wholeheartedly say’ ‘Oh yeah’, Marcus. It’s all too easy to try and take the bucks rather than pass them on to someone who deserves them because they’re the man/woman for the job. Same in life and love – be you and don’t just take the easy option. Be honest, be true, be you in all you do.
So, to your question and very very timely one too I must say. My blog, as you know is to write on all things celebrating and enjoying being yourself (you do this marvellously here!), but my real joy, what the love of my life is and always has been, is my sports and what inspires me every single day is the motivation side. So very soon it’s going to be my job, my role in life, and a whole new blog. Why? Because they’re all me – 100% John Sherry and that’s the only person we can be and working or blogging or loving they very same way.


Erin Feldman July 27, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Thank you for your post. It plays perfectly into the discussion I’ve been having with myself for the past week. I’ve been evaluating what my next steps are as a business owner and how I go about building a business rather than a job. That has meant considering what I do and what I want to be doing a year from now.

My shtick? I’m a writer. Plain and simple. I love words. I obsess over them: “a” versus “the”; “to” versus “into.” Of course, I can’t write all day. I could, but I would have no energy for the creative writing I do and want to do. I’ve been thinking about turning myself into more of a consultant, especially since I write for websites and blogs and understand SEO and social media (At least, as much as one person can understand those two things.), so that I don’t have to spend all my time writing for other people. It’s just a question of how I get from point A to point B.


Amber-Lee Dibble July 27, 2011 at 10:58 pm

“OK, simple question for all readers: What’s your shtick? What do you want to be known as in the blogosphere and in the rest of the world? C’mon, jump in and promote yourself a little bit, plus I’d love to learn a little more about this awesome community.” …I had to look up “shtick”, Marcus. (geeze). “A characteristic attribute, talent, or trait that is helpful in securing recognition or attention”

I want to be known in the blogosphere and in the world as the Alaska Chick. That girl that runs that awesome place out in the mountains, raising and homeschooling her kiddos, taking adventurers and big game hunters out on horseback into the Alaskan Wilderness. You know, that Pioneer Outfitters of Alaska? Those guys that take sick kids and vets out to go on trips and hunts, because they can? That’s who I am.

I think it would be a massive mis-calculation to NOT to have that phone call first thing the students see. It’s called good business. Honesty. Integrity.
Thanks for sharing that with us, Pal. ~Amber-Lee


roro July 29, 2011 at 12:26 am

What’s my Schtick? Isn’t that a brand of men’s deodorant? Anyway, I want to be known as someone who is REAL and FUNNY, Marcus. I don’t mean real funny, instead, someone who sees the humor in the seriousness of life by being real. Much like how you come across as SENSIBLE and SMART, or sensibly smart. You are spot on with the importance of establishing an identity. It’s like having a home. You can eat at Taco Bell today, Pizza Hut tomorrow, Jack in the Box the day after, but nothing beats pigging out at home within arms reach of beer and the t.v remote. Knowing your Schtick helps in creating consistency in your post by giving you an identity for your audience to relate with.


Jk Allen July 29, 2011 at 11:30 am

Finally made it! Man, I had a huge presentation which followed by an immediate influx of work and meetings.

As a blogger my shtick is the exact same as it is offline: personal accountability, living in perspective of what’s most important to me and never forsaking my integrity. I’ll die with those things being my shtick, weather it’s tomorrow (hopefully not) or in 50 or however many years. I feel empowered by feeling so strongly about my shtick. So much so that I’m willing to cover any topic, with confidence [most of the time] because I really believe it even despite its popularity amongst others.

Great conversation with the cameraman and standing your ground for what works for your business. What a great position to be in!

When the vid is complete…can we catch a peep?

Have a good weekend Marcus.



Marcus Sheridan July 29, 2011 at 5:25 pm

As I said in the article brother, you truly exude what ‘shtick’ is all about JK. I think that’s also what makes you so respected in the blogosphere. People know that you know what the heck you’re all about. That goes a long ways in this day and age.

You’re great my friend. Have an excellent weekend with the fam.



jane July 29, 2011 at 1:19 pm

I’m so impressed not only with your ethics but also your business savvy. What a refreshing way to look at doing business. Your example really is so applicable to the blogging world and the importance of knowing who you are and what it is you’re trying to say. I would be really interested in seeing this completed documentary!


Marcus Sheridan July 29, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Hi Jane!! And thanks so much for taking a moment to stop in and share. I do hope to show a bit of the documentary here at some point. In fact, as the future rolls forward, video will be prolific on this site, i have a feeling.

Anyway, your comment is so appreciated and I hope your weekend is a wonderful one!!



Reign September 2, 2011 at 11:37 am

Knowing who you are can let you know where you would stand the best.


Rajka Milanovic Galbraith September 18, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Dear Marcus

I want to be the trusted authority people go to when they need reassurance/guidance about their healthcare, & to keep people informed about new updates in healthcare and parenting. So for anyone anywhere. Not just expats! So that is why I bought the domain name: thinking about rebranding.

But, I am still working on making this my shtick! not all the way there YET!



Rebecca Livermore November 30, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Great post, Marcus! I love that you chose not to take business that wasn’t right for you, even though some would view that as a bad decision from a financial perspective. This was affirming for me to read, because just today I made the decision not to take on a potential client. This was a pretty big decision for me since I’m about to transition into full-time self-employment and “need” the income. But I couldn’t escape the feeling that I would be miserable working for this person, so I said goodbye to the potential income, and breathed a huge sigh of relief!

Sometimes I have to remind myself that every minute I spend doing something I shouldn’t do steals time from doing the things that I’m really made to do.


Marcus Sheridan November 30, 2011 at 5:50 pm

Exactly Rebecca. It’s all about time vs production vs reward. The fact that you’re seeing more and more the things that bring you the most returns is a wonderful thing. As you continue to seek this maximum ROI of your time, your ability to say ‘No’ will become greater and greater as well.

Again, much thanks for stopping by Rebecca.



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