A pep talk on business promotion
Let’s talk small business promotions. By promotions, I mean strategically positioning your product or service for the purposes of soliciting new and repeat business. It’s a simple concept. We have all experienced reasonably effective and embarrassingly disastrous methods in the fine art of self-promotion. When things go well, it feels simple, sensible, sincere. When things flop, the entire experience can do more harm than good (insert cheesy used car ad here). With an increase in clients seeking help promoting small business, I thought a little public pep talk might boost confidence and inspire a little optimism.
I’m all about full disclosure, so I’ll preface by clearly stating that I’m no marketing expert. My expertise comes as a shrewd consumer, with a discerning eye for quality and value. I want to know what I’m buying, why I’m buying it and where my money is going. I want to know there isn’t something better a few doors down, sold by someone nicer. I do my research because I don’t want to find out later that I’m inadvertently funding bigots, child abusers or creeps who hit baby seals with baseball bats. Assuming you are none of those, I invite you to continue reading.
If you have developed a product or offer a service that is worthy of anyone’s consideration, time and money — congratulations! You are smarter and braver than you probably give yourself credit for. If you have further tested your product and know it to be genuinely favorable and/or advantageous to its intended user, you deserve a standing ovation. You are probably a genius. What you have done already warrants acclaim, or at least a big hug. Putting yourself out there, however, can be overwhelming and a little scary — but a few simple tips might help things along, and give you the necessary courage to become your own best spokesperson.
Self-promotion is all about strategy. That means research, market testing, creativity, and a little time in the saddle. You will want to know your industry, product or service inside and out. Knowing your competition is nice, but is not necessarily all it’s cracked up to be. If you know what you are doing — and you know it’s good (and I mean really good), that might be enough. You will want to try it out with safe people you already know and trust to give you honest (and compassionate) feedback. Once upgrades have been made and you are confident with your merchandise, it’s time to give it vibrancy with a little creative energy. Classing up your product with style and personality will help give it life — and inspire customers to seek you out. Once you have gotten out there, collected a few testimonials and are really feeling comfortable with who you are, why you are in business, what you offer, and to whom — it’s just a matter of finding your user — and speaking their language.
Affinity marketing is all about introducing your product to people who already want what you are offering — even though they might not know it yet. Identifying who those people are, where they are, what they like, and how they like it is the key to promoting your small business. If you have confidence in your product (and you had better) — there is no need for fancy pageantry. If promoting yourself feels icky — remember that small business promotion is an invitation to experience what makes your product uniquely suited to prospective users. People want honesty, transparency, clarity, competency and confidence — and most are willing to pay for it when it means supporting someone they trust to reliably deliver. Those who are drawn to you will happily sing your praises and provide heartfelt recommendations on your behalf. That’s as good as gold.
Trust your product and believe in yourself. Everything else is strategically leveraging one success after another.
— Evan Zislis is founder and principal consultant of http://www.MyIntentionalSolutions.com, delivering hands-on organizational solutions for households, businesses, nonprofits, students, and life transitions. To comment or suggest column topics, visit the Facebook page “Intentional Solutions.” For more information about simplifying your stuff and organizing your life, call 366.2532 or email Evan@MyIntentionalSolutions.com.
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