Everything I Know About Self-Promotion I Learned from The Princess Bride

I got a great response to my previous article, “Everything I Know About Consulting…”, and it made me realize that there are even more things to be learned from classic 80’s cinema. While good consulting techniques are certainly important to help us land our next client, they’re not the total package.  We have to also use certain skills after we’ve landed the project to show that we were indeed the right person to pick for the job, and worthy of even more projects. This falls into the category of self-promotion – our ability to display our expertise, ability, and confidence to those around us, so that we’re seen as the very subject matter expert we claim to be.  And what better piece of work to illustrate these techniques than that classic movie “The Princess Bride”*. Let’s take a look at what this movie has to tell us about how to promote ourselves:


“I am the Dread Pirate Roberts!…”

Just as Fezzick had only one chance to strike fear into the hearts of the castle guards, we’ve only got one chance to MAKE A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION. Make that first day a great one, a memorable one. We should introduce ourselves to as many people as we can, so that people know that someone new with our expertise and experience is in the building and available. And if possible, we should try to qet some quick wins in our project – even if they’re small, that early victory can have a lasting impression.

“I mean, if we only had a wheelbarrow, that would be something…”

Certain key tools were all that Westley needed in order to come up with a master plan for storming the castle. We, too, need to USE OUR PERSONAL MARKETING TOOLS to help promote ourselves. The most obvious one is our business cards – we should have them ready to hand out, but also placed on our desk in plain sight for anyone to take, or for us to easily access when we meet someone new at our desk. Other useful tools are signs or posters, even light-hearted ones, related to our technology or area of expertise, that we can post on or around our desk or work area. Passer-byers can then easily see what we’re all about, and might be motivated to enquire.

“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

Inigo had practiced this speech for 20 years, just for the one moment when he needed it most. It’s also important for us to HAVE OUR ELEVATOR SPEECH READY for that inevitable moment when it will be needed. This is that 30-second speech that we’ll give in the brief moment in which we meet someone new that asks “So, what do you do?” Also, we should know which of our talents we want to highlight in that speech – we may have several areas of expertise, but only certain ones are important to the person we’re talking to at the moment.. In that same way, we’ll need more than one elevator speech ready to be prepared for the different types of people we might meet.

“Do you hear that, Fezzik? That is the sound of ultimate suffering…”

Inigo heard the tormented screams of Westley from miles away, and so did everyone else throughout the land, from the Prince to the village people. In the same way, we should try to MAKE OUR PRESENCE KNOWN throughout the organization. What can we do to get ourselves, our brand, or the fruits of our labors in front of as many people as possible?  What about volunteering to do training in our area? Or to show a demo of a new application we’ve developed? Better yet, if the organization has online forums or internal SIGs (Special Interest Groups) – let’s participate! Also, if we’re a writer or blogger, we should let people know when we’ve published a new article.

“True Love is the greatest thing in the world…”

Even though Westley was ‘mostly dead’, he was still able to bellow “t-r-u-e l-o-v-e” when Miracle Max asked him what’s worth living for.  People around us should also know how much we care about our craft. We need to find a way to SHOW OUR PASSION to our client. To do that, we need to talk-up our technology or area of expertise, and show our excitement about the subject. Let’s be vocal about a possibly bigger vision for our area or technology – talk about the visionary things that could be done on our project in future phases, or if more time or funding was available. And also, we should highlight our community involvement – make sure everyone knows about our attendance at user groups, conferences, or perhaps our upcoming speaking engagements.


What are some techniques you use to promote yourself with your clients?

*ACT III Communications, 1987, Rob Reiner

One Response so far.

  1. MMM says:

    just found your blog - excellllllennnt! funny and right on the mark. to quote Arnold: "I'll be bock."