Your true identity

December 14, 2012 By    

My wife’s grandmother used to cut off the ends of a ham before putting it in the oven. This went on for years. As a result, everyone in our family prepared hams the same way. After Grandma passed away, my wife became curious and wondered what the secret was to cutting the ends off before baking. When she asked her aunt, she replied, “Her pan was too small, so she had to cut the ends off to fit in the pan.”

Those of us in business do the same thing. We copy competitors because we assume their methods must be right for us as well. Not true.

For example, when we first started sending newsletters to our customers, I copied the way a large competitor was doing theirs by putting on a tie and placing my photo on the front page. After the first edition, a friend suggested that I get rid of the tie and just be honest about who we were. He suggested that we replace the photo with a casual shot of my dog and me. He explained that when he had added pets to the websites of his clients, traffic increased considerably. Then, he asked if I had a cat. “No, but I could rent one!” He dismissed the idea and convinced me to be honest and stick with the dog.

I began to include articles about mistakes that I have made as a husband over the years, which ensured a wealth of material. The more I revealed about myself, the better the feedback from our customers. It was a risk worth taking.

Instead of blindly conforming to the way other companies do business, take pleasure in being as different and unique as you can possibly be. Be yourself! – Ken Albrecht

Ken Albrecht is president of Reliable Propane in Clarence Center, N.Y. Visit

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