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Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
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Friday, October 20, 2006

The Royal We

Curio City Online’s text speaks in the plural voice (“we”). My readers know that I am the entire staff. So why not drop the pretense and just write as myself?

Conventional wisdom says that customers want to deal with big companies, and would be suspicious of the home-based, small-budget, one-man startup behind the curtain. So I speak of “our warehouse” and “our photographer” and “our buyers”, and people actually do see a big company. I only break that pretense in my newsletter and on this blog, both of which are specifically the voice of the Mayor.

Suppose I dropped the “big company” act? Some customers might like the idea of supporting a real person or helping an underdog. Then again, many might not trust “us” with their financial and contact information (even though it is certainly more secure with me than it would be in a large organization).

What’s your take? Are you more or less likely to buy from a “mom and pop” store with personality? Does a David-and-Goliath struggle against the odds do anything for you? Or is there a trust issue? Are you more comfortable with the known reputation of the colossus, or would you prefer the honest and personal touch of a little company with a real individual behind it?

Leave a comment. Our marketing department wants to know. :)

Forthcoming Topic Ideas:

  • Credit Card processing fees
  • What Does Success Look Like?
  • Planned features
  • O, Canada
  • More About Marketing


  1. Continuing the trend of commenting, I much prefer to purchase from smaller companies or basement businesses than world conglomerates. However, any David-sized operations must give off an air of professionalism, so I prefer the Royal 'We' in this case. Another factor is general presentation - these days, a website. A sloppy website that looks ten years out of date isn't going to get my business. I understand that pro made websites aren't always available for these types of businesses, but at least try to learn some current technology. Your website passes that test without a problem.

  2. Ah, cool. You did blog on this.

    I agree with Ed in the sense that I think the "we's" and the "our photographer's" are wise on your part. When someone turns up your shop via google, they're much more interested in a seemingly-stable operation that has its act together than they are about saving a nickel over the next cheapest option.

  3. Phone callers often ask me for my name and title, or want to speak to the Orders Department, or refer to my merchandise by its SKU number...so the charade of being a big corporation most certainly works. I've been keeping up the pretext for so long since I originally wrote this post that I actually do think in terms of "our company" now. The Royal We has become second nature to me -- erm, I mean, "to us".

  4. If you had gone the purchase-a-store route, then the "royal we," may have included Anne in a position of Chief Strongarmer. :P

    FWIW, I can't think of a situation where you could open up a physical store and make your schtick work. I understand that you see yourself as having skills that better fit that paradigm, but I can't see a Curio City storefront with multiple customers in it throughout the day. Reminds me of an I Love Lucy (a show, BTW, I can't stand despite my own marriage to a red head) episode where Lucy gets busted for crawling around on the floor on the couch behind Ricky and Fred purportedly looking for an earring she dropped in the bedroom. Ricky asks her (in his ultra-annoying manner) why she's looking for it out in the living room. She responds "because the lighting's better out here."

    Your lighting may be better in a physical storefront, but I can't see your product line being a good long-term solution. You're so holiday/gift-centric that it seems to me that you've always got to end up with some sort of scalable solution. What's the weather/yard situation like for putting up a tough-shed for your October through January heavy inventory months?



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