When I was a kid, I adored Camelot. There, I’ve said it out loud. (Well, to be more accurate, publicly.) There were many moments I loved. I’m only going to mention one here. When Lancelot is introduced he goes on at great length about how perfect he is for the Round Table.
A knight of the Table Round should be invincible,/Succeed where a less fantastic man would fail./Climb a wall no one else can climb,/Cleave a dragon in record time,/Swim a moat in a coat of heavy iron mail. . . . .
But where in the world/Is there in the world/A man so *extraordinaire*?
C’est moi! C’est moi, I’m forced to admit./’Tis I, I humbly reply./That mortal who/These marvels can do,/C’est moi, c’est moi, ’tis I.
You get the picture? Well, when he meets Guinevere for the first time, she is, shall we say, less than impressed with the ego. When Lancelot asks what virtue he could possibly lack, she suggests, “Humilité?”
I always loved that. (I was 13, OK?) But what brought this all to mind now was a recent post (recent is relative, I’m playing catch-up) by Trevor O’Donnell on good arts marketing practices, Marketing that Doesn’t Suck. (Give the man points for good blog post titles!) There were two that particularly attracted my attention because they fall in the “let’s get over ourselves” category of relating to the public:
Humble. Do [our marketing messages] offer something of value, not by telling people how valuable the product is, but rather by describing how it will satisfy their desires? (The difference here is huge.)
Unselfish. Do they spend as much time talking about how happy the customers will be when they buy the product as they do about how wonderful the product is?
What we have to offer is, indeed, powerful, wonderful, meaningful, and important. But if we have to tell people those things (and especially if they don’t believe it before we tell them) something is wrong with the picture. When we toot our own horn for ourselves, the impact is less than impressive. Let’s be powerful, wonderful, meaningful, and important to people in ways that work for them. (We might need to get to know them before we can do those things.)