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This 46 message thread spans 2 pages: 46 ( [1] 2 > >     
Faking your size
how many of you pretend to be a bigger company than you are

 1:06 pm on Jun 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

I have a half dozen sites now, all run by me, myself and I, but I usually pretend to outsiders that the staff running these sites are much larger. Customer Service staffs, content teams and all sorts of other made up help (complete with names) so that the people interacting with me will feel more comfortable about doing business with me. I just feel like if they found out it was a one woman operation, they would think less of the sites.

How many others do this, or am I just a walking mental case?



 1:32 pm on Jun 3, 2005 (gmt 0)


What happens when a client, or perspective client wants to meet your content team? Leave the room and put on a mustache and come back in with an accent?

If your work is good, then take ALL the credit.

Good luck,


Mr Bo Jangles

 1:48 pm on Jun 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

My staff have names, personalities, their own e-mail accounts, even office dress code - everything except a salary *_*

...and no, you can't speak to Sandie, she's out of the office currently!


 2:38 pm on Jun 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

I have one site and I'm building another.

My first site is a "Guide to Widgets" sites. On this site I have tended to imply that there was a staff (I called myself a director, I said "we" instead of "I", but I never made up fake names and the like. I did this simpy because I am not an expert in widgets and so I needed something to provide my site with some quick credibility (although I still provided very high quality articles).

My second site will be more of a community site. I don't feel the need to fake my size because this topic related to by college degree (and my future graduate research) so I have some qualifications talking about this topic.


 2:59 pm on Jun 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

>> I usually pretend to outsiders that the staff running these sites are much larger

With some sites it provides security, anonymity and less overall hassle with the pushy ones. With others, it's survival: web hosting resellers would not want to disclose that "they're" really one person just playing the middleman. Happens in the brick-&-mortor world too...


 3:01 pm on Jun 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

I've got an 80 man team in homemade cubicles in my basement.


 3:01 pm on Jun 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

Most of us learn the importance of making a good first impression. That's why when we go out on a first date or a job interview we put on nice clothes, use our best manners, and try to be charming, intelligent and witty. Ok, so maybe at home we prefer to wear ratty t-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops.

So, we're instinctively used to matching our appearance and behavior to social situations. It's a natural behavior, and it's not just present among humans.

However, interviewers want to see the "real" candidate when they interview. People dating want to know "is this person really this cool or is it just an act."

Think about personal ads. Let's say an ad includes:

  • Corporate Exec for Fortune 500
  • 42 years old
  • Harvard undergrad, Wharton M.B.A.
  • Seeks long-term relationship
  • Above-average height and appearance
  • Owns mansion, yacht, and marina

    Well, that ad sends a lot of "positive signals," and probably will attract some interest. However, if the applicant doesn't live up to those expectations, there's going to be a really short date. It doesn't matter if the person is a 16 year-old computer whiz who envisions him/herself as that person someday or if the person is a 60 year-old janitor who dreams of the "could have been". It's best when placing a classified ad to be mostly "real." We expect people to present their best qualities and downplay their shortcomings, but we really seek the "true" person.

    So, I'd say be real. Be yourself. If someone disses your work because you've done it all, then they're not the right fit for you but you (and it's their loss).

  • rmccollom

     3:17 pm on Jun 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Faking your size

    I thought at first glance you were going in completely different direction!


     3:18 pm on Jun 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

    I think mcguffin pretty much proves you should be yourself.


     4:26 pm on Jun 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

    I think it's important to look successful, whether as a one person operation or a larger one.

    People like success. I've been "faking" it since the beginning 5 years ago, and now that my wife has joined the team, when I say "we" it really means something.

    "we" refers to the company, not just you. It's good to be honest when asked, but generally it's a "we" and a "company" rather than me in my slippers and jammies in the living room.


     4:47 pm on Jun 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

    >>How many others do this, or am I just a walking
    >>mental case?

    if you're a walking mental case, then so am i. and so are my highly skilled team. and the trainee who is responsible for any errors ......

    i do actually have 3 staff now, but we run many many websites between us. we don't use names - we'd just confuse ourselves. any email replies etc come from "sales" or "support" or sometimes "Admin Team" etc - much easier than names.


     5:00 pm on Jun 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Whether it's relationships or work, if you don't fake it you'll never have to worry about keeping your story straight.

    I work for a company that does just this. I can tell you from experience that it doesn't take that long for customers to find out the truth one way or another, and worst of all it doesn't just reflect on the company, it reflects on the people involved, whether it's under their control or not.

    When it comes down to it, BS is BS.


     10:13 pm on Jun 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

    And BS sells :)


     10:43 pm on Jun 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

    I never thought about it but my approach is different
    My forte is that I position myself as not looking for a huge growth (Well, that's kind of fake!)
    And always offer a personal and direct contact. -Very much service oriented-
    My clients know that they can reach me 7*7 ( I made it that way)


     12:32 am on Jun 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

    "we" refers to the company, not just you.

    I agree with tx. When I say we, I'm referring to the company as a whole. I don't get into specifics because I don't really think it matters. I tell my clients that I will personally be working on the project and that seems to go over just fine.


     3:05 pm on Jun 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

    >How many others do this, or am I just a walking mental case?

    Let's just say its a little weird. You need to develop enough confidence in who you are and what you do that you don't need to hide behind a network of non-existent workers.


     3:58 pm on Jun 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Sometimes this is best way to go. I believe you are doing good job and why wouldn't you say there are 3 of you? Some companies have 15 people and they do less than one person :)


     4:27 pm on Jun 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

    You need to develop enough confidence in who you are and what you do that you don't need to hide behind a network of non-existent workers.

    It's more than that. You can have all the confidence in the world in your own abilities. Your customers need to have confidence in a company - not just one person.

    You can give the impression of being larger without being Verizon.

    Remember the old IBM PC commercials with the cast from MASH? Unless it's a plumber of electrician, I want to know I'm dealing with a company.


     5:49 pm on Jun 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

    All this reminds me of the old days when a few people were working for themselves in one person operations. Someone sold a tape that could be played in the background while you were on the phone to a potential customer. The tape had the sound of multiple typewriters, phones ringing, PA announcements (there is a red Ford in the employees' lot with its lights on), etc.

    Just be yourself and take all the credit.


     8:41 pm on Jun 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

    I have to say that my consulting stuff, it is always just me. They pay for me and my knowledge so I don't mind saying it's just me.

    But the dropship sites, the content site and my affiliate sites are all random visitors and contributors. I compete against sites that are larger and better staffed (unless they are faking it too) so I feel that I need to make people feel that I am of a caliber to compete with those competing sites.


     10:37 pm on Jun 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

    >>You can have all the confidence in the world in your own abilities. Your customers need to have confidence in a company - not just one person.

    I don't think it is necessary. I wrote more but is probably best to leave it at that.


     12:40 am on Jun 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

    I suppose this could be necessary, when people don't respect a company run by just one person. I think it's important to use the sites to help your personal brand as well, though.


     12:45 am on Jun 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

    I saw a web design company take this to comical lengths, by showing an image of a twenty story office building with the name of their company badly photoshopped onto it.


     2:06 am on Jun 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

    To many people with entirely too much time who have nothing better than to show off their computer skills by spending hours trying to attack or destroy people's websites. Just check your logs.

    Lets say Joe in customer support replies to an email complaint and the person takes offense. The person hates Joe, in customer support, but that doesn't mean he hates the website or company. The person emails Joe's supervisor and complains. Joe's supervisor replies back saying that Joe is on thin ice and we sincerely apologize for his attitude. Now the person is happy and feels important because he got Joe in trouble, and on top of that likes a company that was so fast to act against Joe in customer support. End of story.

    Lets say it's just Joe. Persons misreads Joe's email reply and takes offense. Now begins the biggest DDoS attack ever against joe and his website.

    I have a whole staff of people just waiting to be disciplined and fired at the drop of a hat if they anger or upset even one customer.


     2:17 am on Jun 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

    There are some people and certain situations where there is a reasonable preference for something other than a one person operation. While there are people who prefer to deal with large organization (big buildings, 100 person staffs, etc.) these people will soon find that smaller organizations will provide better service.

    My business (engineering consulting) is a one person business-no partners, no secretaries, no flunkies, etc.) There are people who would prefer to deal with several person firms so that if one person was unavailable someone else would be able to cover.

    I, for example, prefered a three doctor ob/gyn group to a very good doctor in solo practive. Since babies don't come on schedule, it makes since to have a group practice with a rotation--one doc scheduled to cover deliveries at night and not have morning routine gyn appointments.

    I don't try to pretend that I am more than a one person operation. Sooner or later the client will find out. Better sooner than later.


     4:55 am on Jun 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

    I to refer to my company as "we" as an entity, but it's just me. If a customer asks, I let them know that it's just me, but they usually don't ask.

    ...trainee who is responsible for any errors

    What a funny idea! I need one of these! ;)


     7:04 am on Jun 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

    We try to brand our product, and the site reflects this. It carries all the indicators of a bigger company - you'll have to look closely to find the sparse staff information. When people call, especially potential wholesalers, they seem relieved to discover that one man is responsible for the company (and impressed that his friend does such a great job on the site). Still others call wanting the Billing or Sales department.. "I'm Jeff, can I help you".


     6:21 pm on Jun 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

    We do. When we started, there was only three of us (its a manfacturing co.) and we werent taken seriously by wholesalers that we tried to sell to. So I gradually started including the staff counts of the subcontractors we use, and that seemed to settle the issue.

    We now have six people that work in the company directly, and another 30 at our subcontractors. So how big of a company are we? We wouldnt be able to produce our products without subcontractors, so do they count?

    I read all the business magazines I can find, and there is one thought that comes to mind when I read about some company with only 5 employees doing $10M a year in business - how many people work for their subcontractors :)


     12:38 am on Jun 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

    >>>> I usually pretend to outsiders that the staff running these sites are much larger.

    If you're being dishonest about your staff, what else are you willing to be dishonest about?


     12:48 am on Jun 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Niche = good

    Niche expert = good

    Honesty = good

    Corporations have many employees

    If they need your expertise, why not be a phenomenal one-person show?

    Easier for them to deal with one person than another company, no?

    This 46 message thread spans 2 pages: 46 ( [1] 2 > >
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