An important point for business owners to realize is that they must be cheerleaders for both themselves and their companies. As an entrepreneur, you have to remember that the only way a potential client will hear about your existence is if you get the word out.
Traditional marketing channels -- direct mail, display advertising, radio ads, etc. -- have long been the means to this end. But over the last several years, businesses have increasingly turned their backs on those channels and focused instead on a much more grassroots approach. That approach entails social media, community outreach and personal relationships to create a marketing foundation.
Word of mouth
I love receiving business via word of mouth. Why? Because half the work of selling myself has been done for me. Clients who approach me through a connection generally know who I am and what I’m about. Maybe they saw the way I worked with another client and liked it; maybe they’re a friend of a friend.
But regardless of how they came to connect with my company, chances are pretty good that they’ll stick around. Word of Mouth Marketing Association studies have shown that just one offline word-of-mouth impression drives sales at least five times the rate that a paid media media impression does! Talk about putting your money where your mouth is.
Social media, used in the right way, is a great way to market yourself. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram: These sites need to be nurtured daily, if not hourly, to really work for you. At my company, we are inundated with marketing messages on our feeds every day, so creating something that inspires customer interaction is incredibly important.
For example, millions of people participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (for research on Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis disease), raising funds and awareness across the globe. Why? Because they heard about it on social media, whose mentions in turn prompted press and TV coverage. Besides, the challenge was engaging and fun; it gave you an opportunity to challenge your friends and spread the word for a good cause.
Give people something to talk about.
It’s no random decision on my part to write weekly about what I love -- entrepreneurship and business-building. It’s a conscious choice because I feel I have something to offer. Whether I’m writing to empower women, encourage business owners or even rant about my angst with my business struggles, I want to create something worth talking about. And I want to get the word out about my business.
Creating a dialogue allows me to be seen as more approachable and easier to understand. Author, speaker and entrepreneur Seth Godin is a fantastic example of how showing up every day and giving people something to talk about can make an huge impact for a company or individual. He calls it the “drip effect,” meaning that you carve yourself out as an individual whom people can put their faith in, a little bit at a time.
Don't shy away from getting personal with a client. Knowing their kids' names or sharing a funny story of what happened to you last weekend can create a powerful bond between you and the people you work for. I don’t hesitate to share pictures of my dogs, friends and family, because that lets people know I have a life outside of my company. I’m a whole person, not just a CEO.
I love when a client becomes a friend. It makes my work for them that much more fulfilling. It makes my company stronger. I want my clients to feel welcome, and happy about their work with me.
I want them happy for not only what my company produces for them, but the way we treat them and care about them, like family. It’s an attitude that continues to prove its value time after time.