Setting priorities in your business? Your first job is to sell. Selling is – writing the orders; receiving the cash; feeding the beast. If you don’t sell, the beast, (your business), will die. The impact of selling is immediate. You may love it, but it is a beast. You need to feed it and control it.
Your second priority is marketing. Marketing is taming and grooming the beast. Marketing is everything that makes it easier to sell. Marketing is about sending messages – and everything you do or don’t do sends a message. You are responsible for these messages because they impact the perception of your credibility, value and trust. The impact of marketing is long term. The best time to start marketing was yesterday. The next best time is today.
Use these low-budget techniques to build credibility, value and trust on a shoestring.
Be a guest speaker for community groups, schools and associations.
You most want to speak in front of prospects. But sometimes you need to take side steps to get there. Check the directories at the library to find associations that might have prospects for you. Then contact the local chapters to offer a no-charge seminar or speech. Don’t tell them you speak for free even though you do. Instead tell them that you normally charge, (pick a number), but agree to waive your fee as a first time offer.
The presentation must be of value and interest to the audience. It can’t be an infomercial. Provide a handout with key points from your talk. Include information about your services along with your contact numbers and website on the handout. Ensure your introducer reads the introduction you prepare that establishes your expertise and what you do. But don’t stand up there and sell – instead market by using examples of how you helped previous clients. Ask for a list of all attendees. If they refuse, collect everyone’s business card for a draw. Give away a book, one of your products or 30 minutes of your service. It is more important to collect business cards than to give yours away.
After your presentation ask the organizer to refer you to speak at other associations or other chapters of the same association. Other groups you might speak to are Rotary, chambers of commerce, and various networking clubs. You don’t need to be a member to be a guest speaker.
Prepare and rehearse your presentation. To become a better speaker read the book, “Secrets of Power Presentations”, by Peter Urs Bender, www.PeterUrsBender.com. You could take a seminar on presentation skills or hire a speech coach. You can find both plus tons of free presentation guidelines and tips at www.SpeechCoachforExecutives.com
Another alternative is to join Toastmasters. It is a non-profit association that teaches presentations skills in a peer coaching club environment. Find a local Toastmasters club by visiting www.Toastmasters.org
Volunteer for a charity, community cause or association.
Budget your time wisely and volunteer for a cause or group in which you strongly support. If you do, then you will work willingly and passionately. You will feel good about your contribution. Others see you at your best. They have the opportunity to know you and like you. And we would rather do business with people we know and like. By volunteering on a committee or charity you contact others who share your beliefs. And we like others who are like us. After working together as volunteers it is easier to discuss business opportunities. In this way you may discover new customers and suppliers. You might also find partners for cross promotion or referrals.
The bonus payoff from volunteering is positive media exposure. This might include photos and interviews that may result from your impact. You could join an established cause or you could simply organize your own event. A dentist donated one day of his service to give free fillings to children of single mothers just before Christmas. He received front-page coverage.
Write and publish articles
We grant tremendous respect to those who have published works. Write a book and that is an invaluable credibility tool. Case in point: before I wrote my book, Secrets of Power Marketing, with Peter Urs Bender I was a nobody. After, I was an overnight marketing guru. I say ‘overnight’ because it took two years to write and lots of promotion. Nothing in business happens overnight, neither success nor failure.
You can and should start with something simpler than a book – articles that highlight your expertise. The simplest article to write is a tips list. It could be ‘Three steps to prepare for ______’; ‘Five questions to ask when buying ________’; ‘Seven ways to save money on your __________’; or ‘Ten tips for improving your _________’.
The most important step in writing is to start. The second most important step is to edit and rewrite. Forget about writing excellent copy the first time. I would be so disappointed with myself to find out you can write perfect copy the first time.
Where do you publish? You most want to be seen in the publications your prospects read. These might be trade and association magazines. Members tend to read them cover-to-cover. Of course it is wonderful to appear in a national business publication. Copy your articles and send them to your clients and prospects. Post them on your website and on the wall of your office – for visitors to admire and for you to be reminded that you are an expert.
Feed, tame and groom the beast and it will be your friend.