A lot of business start-up executives I encounter in my practice have an odd feeling about marketing. They seem to think that promoting themselves is somehow unseemly or impolite, simply not done. I can only thank my stars that this isn’t the case, or I’d be out of a job! Self-promotion of your business is vital to it’s growth and continued viability. So where did the guilt come from?
I think it comes from the image of a blowhard, always talking about themselves and exaggerating their prowess and bragging about how they are the biggest, best, whatever they do. We’ve seen them, we know of them, and we try to avoid them. But there is a distinct difference between promoting your business endeavor and bragging about it’s success. Done properly, self-promotion allows you to get the word out often enough, and generate enough business that your satisfied clients will do the bragging for you, so you don’t have to.
Small or especially start-up businesses need to promote their existence rather heavily, and it comes more naturally to some entrepreneurs than others. Most we’ve met are extremely passionate about their business and very proud of their accomplishments, and rightly so. For those to whom this is a natural occurrence, they not only make it look easy, but have come to a point where it can be very subtle and low key and still be effective. That’s the mark of a master, and admittedly, few reach that level. Fortunately, some come to the realization early that this is not their forte, and they hire someone to do it for them – they’re called clients at that point, and bless them all!
To be a small business owner, one thing it’s difficult to be and still be successful is shy. You gotta get it out there and let the public know you’re there, and by doing it a few at a time, you might not ever reach critical mass needed to make it a viable business. So a strong marketing strategy, including some form of outreach promotion and advertising is usually in order. Often it’s something simple, a small ad, even a classified ad is a start. Maybe a postcard to the local area, or a short letter to the neighboring zip codes. Maybe it’s a little league soccer or baseball sponsorship. But at the heart of it, it’s the business owner’s personality coming through all of it, selling hard and showing that passion for their business that makes it all work.
If you’ve started a business in the wake of a layoff or change of life status due to the recent recession, you’re in good company. SBA is reporting a record number of applications for funding and loans, and services that support small business start-ups like insurance, permits, licensing and other things are having a good year. You’re off and running, congratulations!
Now it’s time to turn to marketing to make that little kernel of an idea grow and flourish. If you haven’t done so already, decide how much you want to spend, and start saving now to fill that budget line. There is no hard and fast rule for how much to set aside. Some businesses spend over 20% of their gross income on marketing expenses, some as little as .5% – it depends on how you spend it, and what your goals are. The important thing is to get started, do something, make it happen, so the results can start working for you!
Don’t be shy about self promotion, it’s not a crime, but if you just can’t bring yourself to tell everyone about your new endeavor, hire someone to do it for you – it’s the best money you’ll ever spend.
Did you find this interesting? If you’d like more of these delivered right to your inbox – FREE – simply subscribe to this blog above. And, don’t forget to pick up your copy of “The Marketing Doctor’s Survival Notes”