When you start a new business, one of the first things you do is to create a product or service that is ideal for your target market. You set the price, you have the features and benefits and you are ready to rock and roll. Until you realize that you don’t know how to let your target market know that you have the solution that they need. It’s like having to ends pulling in opposite directions…you have what they need and they need what you have…so what’s next?
When I first started my company in 2009, I did not know one person in Dallas, other than the people that worked in the company I just resigned from…not necessarily the best people to share my message with. I had to figure out how I could let people know what I was doing, why I was doing it and with whom I wanted to share it with. So of course we always go back to basics and that is identifying your target market. Ok that’s done…now what? I could call everyone I knew and let them know but… I just finished saying I didn’t know anyone in Dallas and thought I should start with a model close to home first. My first option was to network and meet people…and I did…lots of people of course I networked anywhere and everywhere and 90% of the people I met were not my ideal target…but I did meet people and they did know people so that was working somewhat.
I also hired a business coach and of course, since I knew better, I didn’t really listen to all her brilliant suggestions…until she called me out and asked why didn’t I just roll down my windows in my car and throw money out of them since that’s what I was basically doing with my coaching sessions. She would suggest, I would resist. She would suggest, I would ignore. It was a wonderful cha cha…and that did continue for a bit until I was not seeing anyone want to do anything with me or my business and couldn’t understand why. So I asked my coach and she laughed and said ok now are you ready to listen?
She told me I needed to do two things to share my message in a wider circle but not stop doing the things I was already doing. You have to build wide not high to spread your name. So along with all the things I was actively doing in Dallas like networking and doing 1:1 connections, writing articles etc. I also decided to add speaking to my activities. Of course I wasn’t going to be able to demand big speaker fees since no one knew me, I had to keep my eyes on the goal…getting my name out. I started speaking at every Chamber, Rotary, Women’s organizations and any place that would have me. Each time I spoke, I not only met people but I also perfected my talk so that it was more focused, relevant and valuable to the audience.
The other thing my coach told me to do, was to write a book…that was NEVER on my radar and again our dance continued until I finally cried “Uncle” and promised to give it a shot. It took me about 6 months to write the book and the first printing of 750 books was delivered to me at a conference where I was the keynote speaker on a stage of almost all men, to a group of almost 4,000. The books sold out and I had people ordering them online and it was awesome.
Now, when you ask people about Judy Hoberman, many know me. When you ask about Selling In A Skirt…most know my company and my message. A lot of time and hard work was needed…of course had I listened sooner, who knows how much time might have been cut out of the equation.
So what are some ways to get your business and your name known? Well, for starters I would try to get myself entrenched locally…again, use it as a template and see what works or doesn’t instead of jumping on a plane only to realize, you should have tried it locally first. Here are a few suggestions…
- It’s all about relationships. Whether it’s with business owners, CEOs, Presidents of companies or other entrepreneurs…build the relationship before you need it. I realize you need it now, but not with everyone at the same time. While you’re at it, start developing relationships with local reporters. Do you know how valuable you can be to a reporter? You are a new business, or an existing one. You are in the community and you might have some valuable insight into a story they are working on. Or perhaps you can bring a story to them. Trust me, reporters look for people that have a story that is interesting or intriguing and….most importantly show up. Once you do, and they know they can count on you…you become a favorite. I am on a radio show in Oregon every month as a business contributor. Why? Because we talk about things that are interesting to HIS audience.
- How about local newspapers or magazines? Why not be a contributor there? Any idea what happens when you are published? You are now the expert in your space and you can become a regular contributor. Once you get one article published, you can use that as a resource for others.
- Ever thought about winning an award or being on a local list? You know the newspapers and magazines I just mentioned? They run contests, awards and produce lists of the best of the best…if you don’t have anyone to nominate your business, do it yourself. Remember, the goal is to get your name out there so find an award or list that reflects your area of expertise. I was recently named Mentor of the Year from The Women of Visionary Influence here in Dallas. I was nominated without me even knowing about it and was truly honored.
- Network with intention. Yes, you can go to every event and meet lots of people and yes those people know people but…it might be a better move to network with your target audience or your strategic partners. I would rather have 5 qualified networking events a month than one a day that is truly non-productive. Can I just say, been there, done that and bought the T-shirt…many times over?
- Relationships are not just with people that you are hoping will share your name and brand. They should also be with your clients. Think about what a happy client will do. They will give you referrals and testimonials. They will keep coming back and bringing their friends. They will want everyone to have the same incredible experience with your company as they did. This does not happen the first time you do something great and they buy something from you. That is the beginning. The follow-up is the most important part of the sale. Many times clients will be excited to be at the ground-floor with a new business. You get to let them in on what’s coming next and when they know you are trying to build your company, depending on the experience they have had with you, they will either help you or go running into the hills. Let them know that you are there for the long-haul and nurture those relationships.
Remember, the customer’s perspective is your reality.