Lisa Caprelli specializes in coaching small businesses toward success. She hosts The Business Experience Show, a radio talk show that functions as a think tank for business marketing strategy. In this Q&A with c-leveled, Lisa shares small business marketing tips on how to promote your business when the only resource you have is yourself.
Consistency is Key.
C-LEVELED: For many entrepreneurs, self- promotion is one of the biggest challenges they face, especially if they don’t have a background in sales or marketing or are a bit more introverted. What advice do you have for someone who is just getting started and believes in their product, but isn’t yet comfortable promoting their brand on their own?
LISA: One of the most common things I see businesses not having is a consistent message. Do not be afraid to outsource the help you need for strategic brand promotion, messaging and writing. Talk about your product or service to experts and successful entrepreneurs to get their feedback on your messaging. Listen to these critiques and learn from them until your brand and message are in line with the product or service you are offering to consumers.
C-LEVELED: What components do you think make for a successful brand message?
LISA: Your brand is your voice. Essential parts of a successful message include:
- Knowledge of your product’s features and what brings the most value to your buyers.
- Understanding how your product or service differs from that of your competitors.
- A concise, simple and clear statement.
- Real and authentic statements.
- Keep it interesting so that people will remember it.
Have a Roadmap.
C-LEVELED: What steps do you recommend that an entrepreneur take to promote themselves in the early days, when their budget is low and they are starting from scratch?
LISA: It is important to have a written strategic roadmap with an outline of what you will need to drive your business forward. Include in your roadmap things like demo samples, a website, blogs, advertising, sales letters, etc. Then find opportunities to barter services to get the items you need. You will be surprised by how many people are willing to barter. I, myself, have relied on barter to help move my business, often trading on-air time for things like writing work and promotion in other mediums. Another good idea is networking. Reach out to everyone you know to tell them about your business. Ask for referrals. You’ll be surprised by how many people will want to help you. Attend local networking events in your industry. Recruit a mentor by finding organizations that have mentorship programs as part of their practice and joining them.
C-LEVELED: How does a new player in the field stand out from the more-established competition?
LISA: Today’s entrepreneur has to wear so many hats. However, trying to be a master of everything will quickly distract your focus from your business and zap your passion. Don’t try to be an expert at all the components your business needs. It’s a quick way to fail. Surround yourself with a great team of people who will be part of your business and outsource the things you don’t have the time, skill-set or desire to do. A new player may also be afraid to ask for help. People really are excited to help a new business but you have to ask for it.
C-LEVELED: What’s the biggest self-promotion mistake you see new businesses make?
LISA: I think it’s a mistake for businesses to promote their services by touting how great they are, with methods such as using photos of themselves with awards they’ve won. Consumers want to know what you will do for them. They want to see your product in action. They want to know how your product or service influences people. Another mistake is not understanding social media and, therefore, using it incorrectly.
Sending out a postcard campaign has also got to be the worst marketing mistake I see. For the amount of money it would cost you to do a postcard campaign, you can spend the same money on search engine optimization, on new videos for your website, on new business articles linked to your site and other electronic communication methods. These are items that cannot be thrown away, unlike a postcard. It takes at least four to six impressions for a customer to remember you and your message. Most people do a postcard campaign once, see no results and never do it again.
C-LEVELED: If a small start-up business is going to spend money on one or two promotional tactics to get them off the ground, which ones do you think are most important to invest in?
LISA: I think it’s important for businesses to invest in getting help to craft a really strong message. All of their promotions, for the life of the business, will stem from this so it needs to be done well. The second most important part of business today is your website presence, which must include great content. Your logo is also important. Show your logo to everyone you trust when coming up with a concept and expect many recommendation.
If you are trying to launch or even grow your small business the C-creative Marketing Agency can help you define your business, distinguish it against your competitors and build customer loyalty. Our sole purpose , as a marketing agency, is to build you a “smart” brand that is relevant, connects with your audience and remains nimble enough to weather changing market dynamics. Contact us for insight on how to develop, launch and grow your business.