Clients often tell me the hardest part about running a business is the marketing. There’s something about that word – marketing – that feels phony or pushy or sales-y to a lot of women entrepreneurs. They know they’re good at what they do, but they don’t feel comfortable shouting it from the mountaintops. They’re much more likely to rely on a humble approach to marketing, like doing a great job and praying that people will notice.
I get that. I lived that way for many years in my business. But what I discovered is that when you approach marketing from a perspective of service – when you simply tell people how you can solve their problems and serve them – it feels much better. And it works!
Marketing doesn’t have to be obnoxious, self-serving or high pressure to be effective. But it does have to be part of your business practice. And there’s a way to “do the marketing thing” and still feel good about yourself in the process.
Here are four tips for creating successful marketing strategies that show you CARE (Consistency, Authenticity, Relationships and Enthusiasm):
Remain Consistent. Did you start a newsletter a year ago and then got too busy to keep it up? Has it been six months since you last attended a local networking meeting? Are you constantly changing how you position yourself in the marketplace (one day you’re an event planner and the next day a video production studio)? If any of this sounds familiar then you may want to look at how you can be more consistent in your marketing.
There’s a marketing adage known as the “Rule of Seven” which says consumers need to see or hear your message seven times before they will take action. So start by getting very clear about your message and then take consistent action to share it over time. Be selective about how many marketing channels you use, but try to create habits and systems so that your marketing efforts continue, no matter how busy you are!
Be Authentic. The internet is a wonderful tool for competitor research. You can take a look at what the successful companies or entrepreneurs in your industry are doing with their marketing. But, unless you are in a network marketing company, you probably have a great deal of independence in how you convey your marketing messages. So, take advantage of that freedom to give your company an authentic voice! Certainly, it’s ok to model after experts and leaders, but be sure to differentiate yourself and your company by using your own authentic style in your marketing. That might mean posting photos of your dog on Facebook, or sharing healthy recipes on your blog if it relates to your business. Find the thing that puts the human touch behind your brand and embrace your authentic marketing style! Now matter how automated and electronic our society becomes, people still like doing business with real people.
Develop Relationships. One of my clients used to be so frustrated about marketing because she was only looking at the immediate results. She thought every marketing strategy was a failure if it didn’t result in an immediate sale. What she didn’t realize is that we were building her client relationships. We were “filling her funnel” with prospects so that they would already know her, like her and trust her when it came time for them to work with her. And we were developing a system so that there would always be prospects entering her sales funnel, even before they needed her services…so they would think of her first when they were ready to buy. It really blew her mind when I explained this to her – and it made a lot of sense.
The other thing she realized is that it’s not enough to have people “on your list” – you have to give them something of value. Because that’s what you do in a relationship. You have to share information and expertise. You have to develop a mutually beneficial relationship – one that you nurture over time. What are you doing to develop relationships with your prospects?
Show Enthusiasm. Sometimes we forget how totally cool our business is to somebody who isn’t familiar with our company. Because we’re so close to the work, in the trenches day after day, we don’t realize that other people have no idea what we do or how it can serve them.
There’s usually a lot of excitement when you start a business – you find yourself telling everyone you know about it. You write press releases, hold an open house, create a website and start chatting on social media about your business. Then, once you’ve been in business a few years and you have some steady clients or customers, you think it’s time to sit back and relax. You begin to expect that people know who you are and what you have to offer. You forget that you have to keep telling them. You have to keep introducing new prospects to your business, which takes a certain level of enthusiasm and energy! Look around your business and see if you can find something exciting or newsworthy to share with your community – then post it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or your blog. Maybe you gave a presentation that would be interesting to share. Or perhaps you are attending a conference where you might meet some clients in person – let them know about it!
What are you doing in your marketing plan to show your customers and clients you care? I’d love to know what’s working for you!