Getting Your Message Out
When you start a new business, one of the first things you do is 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 you don’t have a way to inform your target market about a solution. It’s like having two 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 didn’t know one person in Dallas, other than the people who had 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 the basics and that is identifying your target market.
Once you’ve done that, now what? I could call everyone I know and tell them about it, but I just finished saying I didn’t know anyone in Dallas and thought I should first start with a model closer to home. My first option was to network and meet people, which I did. There were lots of people to network with anywhere and everywhere but 90% of the people I met were not my ideal target. However, I did meet people who know people so it worked somewhat.
Another thing I did was hire a business coach, and, of course, since I knew better, I didn’t really listen to all of her brilliant suggestions – until she called me out and asked why I didn’t just roll down my car windows and throw out money, since that’s what I was basically doing with my coaching sessions. She would suggest, and I would resist. She would suggest, and I would ignore. It was a wonderful cha-cha, which continued for a bit until I wasn’t seeing any business success and couldn’t understand why. So, I asked my coach why and she laughed! She 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 to 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, but I had to keep my eyes on the goal – getting my name out. I started speaking at every Chamber, Rotary, women’s organization 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 became more focused, relevant and valuable to the listening audience.
The other thing my coach told me to do was to write a book. This had NEVER been on my radar, and once again our dance continued until I finally cried “Uncle” and promised to give it a shot. It took me about six 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. Here are a few suggestions:
1. 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 for a story they are working on. Or perhaps you can bring a story to them. Trust me, reporters look for people that have an interesting or intriguing story, and most importantly, they 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.
2. How about local newspapers or magazines?
Why not become 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.
3. 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.
4. 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 within your target audience or your strategic partners. I would rather have five 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?
5. Relationships are not just with the 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.
Judy Hoberman, President of Selling In A Skirt, is an author and weekly radio show host. She has been featured as “The Gender Expert” on Fox News Radio. Judy has created a suite of workshops, seminars and coaching programs that take the negativity out of selling. Her 30 years in sales has given her both the knowledge and sense of humor about the gender differences that we should all understand and embrace instead of feeling unable to communicate.