If you have your own business or enterprise, you already know how important marketing is. It is imperative that you have a strong market presence and be out there convincing consumers that your product is good. Too often if you are a small business owner, you become the face of the business – and your identity becomes synonymous with the brand. That means in the first few years of establishing the company you have to go in for shameless self-promotion. You must have a brilliant online profile and you might appear at lots of trade shows and functions talking up your business. You also need to be seen on the shopfloor if you have a shop! But is it possible to overdo it? Can you push too hard? Pitch too often? Appear too frequently? Quite frankly … I doubt it!
Be the Face of your Business
I have been an entrepreneur for many years now, selling books and appearing as a public speaker. I appreciate how difficult it is to build up a brand and I know that owning a small business eats into your time, but there are also plusses to being small and putting yourself out there as ‘the face’ of the business. Often small business owners are trying to break into markets dominated by big companies. Being small can be an advantage, especially if you are prepared to be ‘the face’ of the business and appear in marketing material. Why? Because customers like dealing with a face! Too often huge multi-national corporations are faceless, but if you are prepared to back your product and give it a human touch, customers will respond and reward you. I always create videos or webinars on my webpages so people can see me – meet me. Then they know they are dealing with a real person. When it comes to promoting your business be prepared to put yourself out there. Ladies, this is especially true for you. Most companies are still owned by men, but if you are a female entrepreneur you should definitely take pride in your product and market it. Many female customers will admire your courage and will reward you with their business.
Launch a Webinar
Be aware that the latest research shows that webpages with video components are attracting more traffic than webpages that are just text and still photos. People are really sick of text-heavy webpages. They want visuals that impart information quickly. You know what they say, a picture tells a thousand words – but a video tells a million words! If you want to be an effective marketer on your webpages you need to have a video, ideally of you explaining the product. People want content that’s easy to make sense of and easy to share with friends.
Use Trade Shows and Community Markets Effectively
I recently wrote a blog explaining the difference between startup businesses and conventional small businesses, which tend to service their locality rather than a world market. If you have a small business and sell to your region, then you should seriously think about appearing at trade shows and community markets. In the first years of setting up your business you should go to as many as possible. Make sure your brand is prominently displayed at these markets. Remember trade shows and markets are crowded places, so your brand should be instantly recognised from a distance. Staff your own stall, give away samples and talk to lots of people. Do not just have one standard sales pitch, but be authentic when speaking to people. Maybe you are selling drones you’ve designed or maybe you have your own cosmetic range – it doesn’t matter, you still need to find out what the needs of your potential customers are. Next tell them honestly how your product meets their needs.
To get the most out of a trade show, fairs or community markets, register early and plan carefully. Exhibitors that register last always end up with the worst booths. Try to get a good location for your stand. Ask for a spot that’s going to get high traffic, not just a table at the end of a dead-end street! Aim to make your stand inviting. Sometimes setting up a table at the front of a stall or market stand acts as a road block. Instead, have an open space people can wander into and then set displays up around the walls. You want people to ‘step into your space’ and then engage with you. To get the most out of a trade show, you should also aim to be a speaker or presenter on the stage not just an exhibitor. Also promote your booth or appearance at the show in advance. Put it on your webpages; host a webinar giving people a taste of what you are planning! People love stands and booths that are entertaining. Will yours have a demonstration and props? Will you have contests, promotions and giveaways? You should also use your stall to drum up business leads. What is your plan for identifying potential customers and capturing their contact details? Remember, every savvy marketer tries to build up their email list.
When it comes to the art of promotion, it also helps to win awards, regardless of whether you are a conventional small business or a startup. Winning prizes raises a business’s profile. Media coverage follows if you win. I suggest you write a media release on your award and send it out to newspapers, radio and TV. This is always good for business. Some awards have cash prizes. Winning awards is also great for staff morale. It is a pat on the back and encourages everyone to work harder.
To win awards you need to enter competitions – as many as possible! You should be scanning industry webpages and magazines for competitions to enter. You should also join your local chamber of commerce and be across what awards are run in your neighbourhood. In Australia there are multiple business awards including the Telstra Business Awards, the Anthill Awards, the Australian Achiever Awards, the Australian Business Awards, the Australian Customer Service Awards, the Australian Export Awards, the Australian Business Champions Awards, the Australian SME Business Awards, the Business Enterprise Centre Awards, CeBIT.AU Business Awards, the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, the Fairtrade Business Awards, the Family Business Awards, the MyBusiness Awards, the Smart Company Business Awards and the ABA Awards.
Be aware that entering awards requires work. The application forms ask for detailed information and evidence. You have to express your passion and belief in your business. That’s what judges want to see. If you already have a lot on your plate, only enter the awards you feel you have a real chance of winning. It is better to do two good applications than ten poor ones. But remember, if you don’t enter – you will never win.
When it comes to promotion, perhaps the most important thing is that you are confident – confident in yourself and confident that you are supplying a quality product that meets a market need. If that is a case, you should be proud to blow your own trumpet.
ABOUT PAT MESITI
Pat Mesiti is a best-selling author, coach and educator in the area of personal development. Having built some of Australia’s largest people-driven organisations, Pat understands the power of harnessing human potential. He has shared the stage with some of the world’s great business minds and has sold over millions of copies of his books and materials.