One of my favorite scenes in the classic movie, Miracle on 34th Street is when the manager at Macy's changes his thinking (thanks to St. Nick) and recommends Gimbels Department Store to Macy's customers whose needs aren't being met. It turns out to be a brilliant strategy that Gimbels adopts later in the movie.
There's plenty of subtext also, and you could argue that Macy's was still acting in its own best interests by taking this stance. And in large part, I'm not so interested in the motivation as I am the action, at least in trivial matters such as this.
I bring this up because I too am a businessman. I have a variety of products, such as the TDS Photography Podcast, my movies on lynda.com, and the work I do for clients. It's a lot of stuff for a one man show trying to make a living in a competitive market.
From the beginning, my approach has been to write and broadcast about my activities. Whether it's sharing a photo tip that I just discovered, talking about a book I just finished, encouraging others to participate on a social network site that I oversee, or support publications that I write for, I choose these relationships carefully. That way I can enthusiastically talk about them publicly.
Unlike other larger businesses, I don't have a big team behind me. The podcast, for example, is conceived, written, recorded, edited, and produced by me, usually late at night. The content is based on what I've seen and experienced in the last week. And I share it freely with my audience.
Every now and then I receive mail citing that I've just published a infomercial. Everyone is entitled to their point of view. My perspective is that I'm excited about the projects I'm working on. Others see it solely as self promotion. The content varies from week to week depending on my activities. I realize that some weeks are more promotional than others.
The bottom line is, however, this is my life. I don't want to work for a company, and I don't want to talk about things that don't interest me. I've done that. Quite honestly, it sucks.
My hope is, that on the balance, people enjoy most of what I discuss, and are willing to tolerate the weeks when I disappoint. It's really the only practical way I can manage this.
If that doesn't work, I feel badly about it. My goal is to inform and entertain. And I know there's always a Gimbels down the street offering something different.