Sing with Your Own Voice


Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.
~Dean Hunt &, apparently, Oscar Wilde

I was chatting with the smartest marketing princess on earth the other day, and we were talking about how few products and services are actually unique.

All marketing advice is basically rehashed John Caples and Claude Hopkins, sometimes with a few Gene Schwartz refinements tossed in.

House painters are house painters. Web designers are web designers. PR people are PR people.

Absolutely, there’s a spectrum of “seriously good” to “seriously incompetent,” and we all have our specialties. And that’s significant, I don’t mean to downplay it. It’s well worth your time to carve down your own little corner of the universe and make it perfect.

But there’s a more important differentiator.

No one else gets to be you

Let’s take it as a given that you’re very good at what you do. If you aren’t, either get better at what you’re doing, or do something you’re better at.

We’ve all been given amazing gifts, and we can all study and improve, so I am 100% confident you can be superb at something.

(Something useful. I’m not belittling your career as a nose-flute virtuoso, but you’ll also need to do something that’s of use to other people.)

With that as a given, what can you add that would take that “very good” to a magnificent new level?

What can you offer that’s dazzling? How can you find a unique message in the cacophony of advertising that’s deafening us all?

How do you find your own village of loyal customers who love you more than anyone else, and will support you in style for the rest of your days?

Sing with your own voice

I have two friends who help people get unstuck.

One is a yoga teacher with a duck. The other is a money guy with a sport coat and a (somewhat) more traditional resume.

They both do great work for clients. They’re both incredibly dedicated and committed. They both speak with an authentic voice.

They don’t offer the exact same services, but even if they did, you’d never need to ask how to decide which one to work with. The answer is obvious.

Havi is for Havi-people and Gary is for Gary-people.

So yes, work on your positioning. Work on your USP. Understand your relationship to your market, find your winning difference or your purple cow or your rightful share of customer.

But don’t let any of those slow you down.

Because beyond what you know and what you’ve learned and how you specialize, what you have to offer is you. It’s as simple and as complicated and as wonderful as that.

P.S. (Speaking of the smartest marketing princess on earth, we’re cooking up some coolerosity for you. Stay tuned.)


  1. Dave Navarro says:

    I like how Havi calls them her Right People. With that perspective, you’re more equipped to get the word out about yourself.

    Looking forward to seeing what you and the Transcontinental Princess Of All Things Itty are up to. :-)


  2. Jackie says:

    You’re quote actually belongs to Oscar Wilde.

    “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”

  3. Lisa says:

    It seems so appropriate that you published this right when the Susan Boyle video has gone viral. (Talk about singing with your own voice–literally!)

    What I take away from this confluence is that it’s not only being yourself that matters–it’s having confidence in whatever that is, despite appearances, despite how others may underestimate you.

    Lisas last blog post..Product Thumbs-Up: Vector Designer (with a wave to my old fave Fireworks)

  4. James Hipkin says:

    This is a really big idea. It extends into so many areas of life and business.

    Accepting that you’re not for everyone.

    The importance of focus, which bridges personal and business.

    Recognizing that a brand is more about how it’s different than how it’s the same.

    Thanks, once again, for highlighting the essential truths that makes things work.

    James Hipkins last blog post..On Vacation

  5. Ronald Baro says:

    I like this. I’m very interested in this site. I am a singer/musician and do use my own voice and love to sing in my own voice.

  6. Sonia Simone says:

    Thanks, Jackie, it’s been suitably amended!

    @Dave, yep, I like Havi’s “right people” (and in particular, your right people) as well. It’s Dan Kennedy’s herd, it’s Seth Godin’s tribe, it’s my village, it’s Kevin Kelly’s 1000 true fans, it’s Hugh McLeod’s global microbrand. Interesting to me that technology seems to be creating more opportunities for these intimate communities to grow up around commercial enterprises.

  7. Sonia Simone says:

    @Lisa, yes, totally. Stand up and be who you are, because someone is looking for you. And thanks for reminding me of Susan Boyle! That would have been a good addition to the post if I’d thought of it, so I’m glad you did. :)

  8. This is great advice. Part of me is afraid that if I am “really me” – it just will be too eccentric or obscure to prosper (because most everything I’m interested in writing about is non-mainstream and non-commercial). People that do really well (like celebrities, motivational speakers, bestselling authors) have this way of connecting with everyone and appeasing mass desires… and most of books and magazines I like go out of print because there isn’t enough audience for it.

    I’ve read Gene Schwatrz (slogged through “Breakthrough Advertising” with a highlighter – thicker and holier than the Old Testament) and Hopkins. I’ve leafed through Caples but maybe I need to give it a solid read for help with my headline muscles.

    Brett Borderss last blog post..Why It Pays to Befriend the ‘Little Guy’

  9. Karen Swim says:

    Sonia, I agree that this is BIG idea, huge in fact. I thought I was doing that but recently rediscovered I was not owning who I am and what I had to offer. I am no Smart Princess but gosh darnit I am the best Karen D. Swim you’ll ever meet. :-) This post comes as a welcome validation that I am indeed on the right path.

    Karen Swims last blog post..Eyes Half Mast, Mug Half Full – I am There

  10. Jean Gogolin says:

    Loved this one. And it reminded me once again that I so much more enjoy your posts on Remarkable Communications, where you are so clearly speaking in your own voice, than when you’re posting as part of Brian Clark’s team. You just don’t sound as “you” there. Not a criticism, just . . . . ?

    Jean Gogolins last blog post..10 Steps To Doing a Kick-Ass Interview

  11. Writer Dad says:

    There’s no single thing that has helped me climb the online ladder than first finding and then using nothing but my authentic voice. There’s only one me and that’s the way it should be.

    Writer Dads last blog post..The Collective Inkwell Creative Fiction Contest – Win a pimped out Thesis Theme!

  12. Sonia Simone says:

    @Brett, I have the same issue, actually. I have weird tastes that most people find esoteric. I don’t watch TV or listen to commercial radio, and I’m hopelessly out of the loop on popular culture. That’s the thing I love about the Web–mass distribution is so cheap that you can find your own little village of people who are weird the same way you are. (That’s my definition of the long tail.)

    @Karen, I think you’re a mighty smart princess! And yes, there’s an essential “Karen-ness” that’s hard to put into words, but you really leave a stamp on what you do.

    @Jean, yeah, Jon Morrow was the person who made me see that Copyblogger isn’t at all a normal blog and it doesn’t follow the usual rules. It’s more of a resource, which doesn’t often work as well as it does there. But that’s why I keep Remarkable Comm (and Twitter), so that readers who want more of the personal side can get that as well. I’m grateful to have the luxury of both kinds of venue!

  13. Mark Silver says:

    Yup. The thing I love about all of this is that there is nothing new under the sun. There’s a freedom in that. You don’t have to work to be unique. Just have to be yourself. Doing ordinary stuff, but your way.

    Mark Silvers last blog post..How spiritual teachers make a living

  14. you AND the-bald-one-who-lives-in-a-sheep-shed? oh be still my beating ‘eart! :)

    joyce lukaczers last blog post..TAX RELIEF 20% off ALL FONTS!

  15. Joanna Young says:

    Another great post Sonia, thank you. This is very much what I try and encourage others to do in their writing, but I realise it’s also what I need to push in relation to myself – that I’m not nor do I want to be a great writer, but that I have a gift that allows me to help others tap into their own power, to connect to the source.

    Thinking of it as a gift makes it easier – because the universe wouldn’t be too happy if you didn’t bother to use what you’d been given, don’t you think?

    Joanna Youngs last blog post..Time for Some Breathing Space

  16. I love that opening quote: “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” ~Dean Hunt &, apparently, Oscar Wilde

    Besides, it’s so much easier to just be yourself than to try and be something/someone you’re not.

    Ricardo Buenos last blog post..My Social Media System

  17. Speaking in my own voice has been a challenge. There are so many great people I want to copy.

    After I read a really good blog post I usually feel inspired to write one of my own. I notice that I’ll use their voice in my own writing. I take this as a way to mold myself. The more I am influenced by great writers the better I become. The best part is my voice becomes more clear.

    I love Havi and Ittybiz. Never checked out Gary. I’m off to his site right now.

    Karl Staib – Work Happy Nows last blog post..The Work Buzz

  18. Sonia Simone says:

    Gary’s in a very different space. Very smart guy, though, we’ve been throwing some ideas around together.

    And yes, I’ve noticed that as well. In fact, I first started blogging because I had so many ideas bouncing off of Seth Godin posts, and he didn’t have comments for me to do that in! Brian Clark likes to give me a hard time that my first blog was “a shrine” to Seth.

  19. Sonia,

    Great. Really refreshing to hear that type of positivity while also carrying a necessary truth in it. Just like you never need to ask “who’s the right friend for me?” most people don’t want to ask “who’s the right specialist?” They want to know who they’re working with and feel comfortable with that person. Selling yourself up front better draws in those people who you want to work with than not doing so.

    David Dittells last blog post..The Hip-Hop Word Of The Day: Imbroglio


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