You have a business idea, something your really good at and now you want to make money doing it. So you decide to get a business name and open up shop. Problem is, no one has ever heard of you and you lack credibility – the problem all entrepreneurs face. So what do you do? You go out and pay expensive PR companies to create a buzz for you in hopes of attracting new customers. All that does is get people to notice you but not necessarily buy from you. This is when you need to shift your strategy.
There is a group of entrepreneurs called “bootstrappers”, those that attempt to build a business on a shoe-string budget or less. Generally these are students just coming out of College/University with tuition debts and bills they can hardly afford to keep up with. What you and many young entrepreneurs don’t realize is that you are already professionals at your own personal style of PR using a free tool you use on a daily basis, Social Media.
You’ve been branding yourself for the past few years using Facebook by building relationships, posting your opinions, adding photos of your work and showing people what your good at. You’ve already created credibility amongst your 500 friends and that’s a good foundation to start promoting yourself with. You’ve already become the brand even before you knew it.
1. You’re an entrepreneur for a reason so be an expert at what you do.
The more you know about your industry, product and service the more prepared you are at winning customers attention. For example if you are in the Fitness industry and what to be known as a Fitness Guru, you want to establish expertise in exercising and nutrition. Don’t break-off into other areas that don’t support your end goal such as giving clothing advice, you’re just wasting your time. Being an expert in your field can get you noticed as a local professional and garner media attention which will help you attract new clients and grow your business.
2. Don’t just keep it to yourself, Blog about it.
Create a blog and start showing people why you are expert and build your credibility. When you hear about something new from a friend or want to find out more, you normally do a Google search on it. So if you have your name on a website, it gives people a chance to find out more about you and what you do. This is especially true if people want to interview you or do business with you. The more websites you have your name on (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) the better chances you have of someone finding you online.
3. Offer your advice where it counts the most.
Posting articles on Facebook is all good and fun, but doesn’t always hit your desired target market. Going back to the example of the Fitness expert, your main audience would be people who want to get healthy, get in shape, get active, etc. These people tend to search for fitness websites and healthy life style websites to learn more about their specific interests. These are the places where you should be sharing your expertise. Submit an article or a request to comment on one of the articles already written. This puts yourself in the spotlight and is a great way to be heard by thousands of people that you didn’t have access to before. Always be sure to provide a photo, bio and link to your website so they can follow-up with you.
4. Build relationships that help your brand
It never hurts making friends, but making the right kind of friends can have huge benefits. Once you know what areas affect your industry, you can connect with other entrepreneurs that will create a mutually beneficial relationship. Most would frown upon making friends with other entrepreneurs in the same industry because they believe they are in competition with each other. In reality it provides more opportunities by exposing yourself to larger audiences and feeding off eachother’s articles and posts. Networking is the fastest and best way to become known in your industry and build relationships that will have an everlasting effect on your brand. For more details on how to successfully build relationships read this article on Generate Brand Awareness Through Networking.
5. Stay Consistent
One of the worst things any entrepreneur can do is, do to many things at once. Occasionally we all stray a little and find ourselves trying to bite off more than we can chew. If you plan to blog or write articles be consistent by doing it once a day or week, whatever works best for you. Sending out whenever you feel like it makes your listeners lose interest. Routine is something that everyone has to make their life run smoother. If the daily newspaper stopped printing everyday and only did it on days it felt like it, it would lose an enormous amount of support. The more consistent you are the more you stay in the thoughts of your audience, you give them something to look forward to.
Building a brand whether it’s of yourself or your business is the most important aspect to any business – next to having a product/service that people actually need. Establishing yourself as the brand creates a more personalized relationship with your customers, which majority of consumers tend to look for when quality is of high importance. Whatever you decide to do make sure your image reflects your final goals to get the results you expect.