Put a bit of ‘You’ in the Marketing Mix

Here's me - following my own advice!

Here’s me – following my own advice!

For many of us it is natural to shy away from the spotlight. In life and in business we find ways to ensure that we are not the point of focus. We humbly play down our achievements or hide behind the products or services we offer. We flush and shake our head when complimented and use phrases like “It was a team effort” because feeling proud of ourselves and being open to positive feedback feels foreign or wrong or conceited.

Yet it is important to recognise that your individual efforts are making a difference. Day after day in your work you are contributing to your company, to your colleagues and to your customers.  Your contribution is unique, bolstered by your own experiences and knowledge and enhanced by your instincts and insights. Your strengths and your weaknesses all come into play. No one else contributes exactly like you.

With this in mind you need to consider how your contribution is directly linked to your marketing approach. How do you personify your brand? What difference would it make if a prospect could see your face or hear your messages or get a grasp of your ideas before you even broach the corporate spiel?

Think about this as an example, do you have a picture of yourself on your website? Before you get embarrassed and dismiss the idea, think about the benefits of allowing your clients to see your face online. How much information could they gather about you – the person they will actually be dealing with – just by seeing your face, your smile, what you are wearing, where you are standing or what you are doing in that image? How might this visual connection strengthen the experience when you meet face to face or as they contemplate purchasing your product?

These days, with so much information available to them, customers can afford to be curious about the creator of the goods or the services practitioner they are about to invest in. If a prospect cannot get a complete and compelling story about you, they may decide to keep looking until they find something or someone else that resonates. Don’t miss the opportunity to give them all the clues they need to get comfortable with you and your product as quickly and convincingly as possible.

This is why media such as online videos can be so powerful. We can see and hear someone on screen, getting a real read on what they would be like in person. We can gauge our reactions to their words and style of delivery to decide whether they are genuinely offering what we need and if we feel comfortable with their approach. This starts the process of establishing trust and building an ongoing business connection which – ultimately – is what we all work so hard to achieve.

In many cases, putting yourself forward and showing how you personify your brand can help to capture your customers’ attention and shorten the purchasing cycle so they decide to buy from you every time. Put yourself in the spotlight for a change and let your customers know who they are dealing with as early as possible. There’s no need to be shy. You and your contribution count more than you realise so show yourself off and be proud.

What can to do this week to put yourself in the spotlight?

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Just 1 Percent

tn_timingThe way I see it, with every excuse you make about marketing, you are giving away a little bit of control of the future success of your business. You are divesting the potential of all of your hard work. I mean what is the point of working so hard to build a business, if you are not doing everything possible to tell people about it.

So today I’m hoping to give you a wake up call. I want to convince you that even if you only have a small amount of time – and even if your marketing budget is non-existent – you can create habits to actively marketing your business and share your story.

Let’s start off with talking about time. Sure time is a limited resource. I haven’t come across an app yet that has found a way to squeeze more than 24 hours into each day – but I’m sure it’s not far away! Until this is available to us, we are stuck trying to fit too many things into too little time. So when faced with this, how can you carve out time to focus on marketing?

Let’s start with baby steps…

I want you to do a calculation. Work out how many hours you work on average each week. Then work out 1% of this time. For example:

40 hours per week or 2400 minutes x 1% = 24 minutes

This 1% is how much time I want you to spend on marketing this week.

Using the example of 24 minutes across a whole week – what could you achieve?

Here are 10 suggestions
:

  1. Phone a customer or contact you think might be a good target for more business and just have a chat
  2. Map out the key points of an article on a topic in your area of specialisation
  3. Update your LinkedIn profile
  4. Hold a short meeting over coffee with 3 colleagues to ask them what they are working on and discuss cross-referral opportunities
  5. Research and register for a networking event relevant to your industry
  6. Review your customer or client lists to see if you can think of new ways to get to know their businesses better
  7. Set up a meeting with one of your key clients and ask them to show you around their operations
  8. Find an article that may interest your customers or contacts and email a link out to them
  9. Send a birthday card to a long-term client
  10. Refer an opportunity to a business contact or colleague – what comes around goes around.

Any of these activities has the potential to bring more work into your business or – at the very least- to raise your profile in the minds of your contacts or customers, reinforcing who you are and how you can help them.

It doesn’t have to take lots of time or money, but a little bit of marketing can bring great results.

What did you achieve with your 1% of time? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Why Straight Shooter?

Melbourne Business Center

Melbourne Business Center (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For those of you who have ever named a business you may agree that if can be a very difficult thing to do. The company name is a key component of your brand, so you want it to be authentically representative what the business is offering. You want it to be original and clever enough to be memorable for your audience. And practically speaking, it needs to be available for corporate registration.I registered Straight Shooter as a business around ten years ago. My husband and I had just moved from Sydney to Melbourne with our 7 month old, first-born son. Starting a consulting business seemed like an obvious option for me. I felt I had the knowledge and the confidence to work with clients and began ticking off all the tasks required to start a small business.

Deciding on the name was the hardest task. Because the consultancy was all based around me and my experience, it was really important to get a name that reflected who I am and what I stand for. It took a few weeks of discussion. Over this time I did all the things I now recommend to clients.

I thought about my skills to come with a list of words to describe myself. I considered what I wanted to achieve with the business and how I wanted to be perceived by potential clients. I added more and more words to the list.

For interests sake, I thought about Leah Taylor Consulting – an obvious choice yet one giving no actual indication of what my clients should expect. This name was discarded as I felt I could do better.

Straight Shooter was on the shortlist as it captured things about me which I perceive as valuable – and I hoped others would too:
• I am compulsively honest
• I am not afraid to share my opinions based on my experience
• I believe that simple solutions that get to the heart of a matter have more chance of succeeding than plans based on convoluted theory and rhetoric.

Armed with my shortlist of options I began to test market my ideas. I spoke to family members and friends to determine their ideas about me and how these might be translated into a business name. There is certainly a risk in approaching family for comments and criticism of your ideas and I’m sure some families can be worse in than others. Of course you need to be prepared to wait a few minutes as your nearest and dearest take the ‘give me’ opportunity to highlight your best and worst characteristics – sometimes in a not so constructive manner. But in the end you should break through to get heartfelt and valuable words and ideas from those who know you best. Thankfully my experience was positive and the feedback I received was useful.

Finally in a conversation with my older brother, the name of my business was decided when – unprompted by me – he said he thought I was a straight shooter. I trusted that his opinion matched my gut feel on the name. I felt sure enough to move forward. I held my breath until the final ASIC searches confirmed that the name was available and that the registration process could begin.

So I was all ready to roll with Straight Shooter Marketing and Communication Pty Ltd. Until I was offered a new in-house Marketing role that was too good to refuse and I rejoined the corporate world, shelving the consulting business indefinitely.

So ten years on from its instigation the Straight Shooter story continues. The intervening decade has taught me so much more about marketing and how it can be applied for different individuals and businesses. I have so much more to share now.

Whether you are just starting out in business or are decades into your career, I’d welcome the opportunity to talk with you about your story – and perhaps even tell you a little more of mine.

Life can take you where you least expect it, but it certainly makes the big picture story much less predictable.

What do you think of the name Straight Shooter? Leave your comments below.