Having multiple business identities for your TAS may be strategic or happenstance
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
Not that I expect many readers to notice, but did you see I made a small tweak to my byline? Instead of Peter L DeHaan, it has become Peter Lyle DeHaan. There’s a reason for this. Let me explain
I’m working on some books for the TAS and call center industry. Though I have one finished, I need time to publish it. I planned on listing my name as Peter L DeHaan to distinguish this from other books I’ve written under the name Peter DeHaan, which focuses on biblical spirituality. I want to keep these two areas separate, so as not to confuse—or frustrate—readers when they go searching for a particular book using my name.
However, I learned that when most people encounter authors with a single middle initial, they drop the initial. In my case Peter L DeHaan would become Peter DeHaan, thereby defeating my goal of using two different names. The solution, I understand, is to use two initials or a full middle name. Readers tend to not drop those. Therefore, all my writing for the TAS and call center industry now carries my middle name.
And to further complicate matters, I’ve written some young adult (YA) fiction, which I’ll publish under the pen name P D Haan. This means I’m one author, using three names, for three distinct topics, for three diverse audiences.
Why am I telling you this? Because answering services often do the same thing.
You may have one answering service, but for marketing purposes, you use different names for different audiences. One example is having one name for medical clients and another one for commercial accounts.
In other instances, answering service names reflect a geographic location, such as a state or city: Answering Michigan, Answering Grand Rapids, or Answering Kalamazoo. (These aren’t actual TAS names. I know, because I just checked. But you get the point.)
Another multi-name scenario occurs when making acquisitions. For strategic reasons, the new owner opts to keep the old name. This may be a short-term decision or a long-term strategy.
What I do know is that having multiple names complicates marketing. Whether you’re an answering service or an author, you need a separate online identity for each name that you use. For my three author brands, each one has its own website.
However, I stopped short of having separate social media pages for each name. That’s sheer madness. Maintaining multiple social media identities is a challenge. I know because I have a separate Facebook page and Twitter account for each of my publications. (And this is the point where I’m obligated to encourage you to like TAS Trader on Facebook and follow TAS Trader on Twitter.)
My decision to use three author names is strategic. I have a well-considered reason for doing so. The same thought process applies to many multi-named answering services, too.
However, other answering services accumulated multiple names over time. These names now complicate their branding and marketing. If this describes your situation, I encourage you to streamline your business names as much as possible. Phase-out and redirect those old brands to one consistent, strong brand. It will make your life easier and your marketing and branding simpler to manage. You’ll be glad you did.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader, covering the telephone answering service industry. Check out his books How to Start a Telephone Answering Service and Sticky Customer Service.