Marketing is a necessary evil for small business owners. It’s something that we need to do, but not something that most of us like to do. Most people get a bit uncomfortable when it comes time for self-promotion. And once we’ve been in business for a while, we start to think that we’ve already done all the marketing we need, and that we shouldn’t have to toot our own horn anymore. We imagine that everyone who matters already knows everything they need to know about us and our business.
But they really don’t, do they?
All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me, Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.Tom Peters
Most experienced business owners look at their business from a skewed perspective, focusing on the things they know about themselves and their business. I’ve been in business for over 20 years. I’ve been on, in and under more houses, condos and mother-in-law suites than I could possibly remember. I’ve seen people argue over window coverings, walk away from purchases because of stains on the floor and almost come to blows over whether or not a $20 GFCI outlet needs to be installed in a garage. I know my business backwards and forwards. I’ve done over 10,000 home inspections (or whatever your own personal number is). I know what I’m talking about.
Everyone already knows what I’m about.
But stop and think about it for a moment. There’s really only one person who’s seen you do every one of those 10,000 inspections. There’s only one person who’s met all your clients, who knows the ones that were ecstatic and the ones who would run you over with their car if they got half a chance. There’s only one person who’s been there and done that.
You’re the only person alive (or dead, for that matter) who’s seen and heard it all.
So why would you think that a person who hasn’t seen your work, who hasn’t met your clients and who doesn’t know that yes, you’ve already been there and you’ve done that, is going to choose to do business with you?
Unless you tell them why they should.
Personal branding is all about your unique promise of value and what you bring to the table. It’s also about getting your potential clients to choose you as the only solution to their problem.Dr. Sarah David
We all know that there aren’t many people who enjoy marketing. Talking about yourself is not something that normal people want to do, as most of us are born with some degree of modesty. Most people consider themselves to be humble and feel uncomfortable engaging in self-promotion. We’re not wired to stand atop the hill and shout at the top of our lungs about how great we are. Face it, for most of us, talking about how great we are is just not in our nature.
You too are a brand. Whether you know it or not. Whether you like it or not.Marc Ecko
While that may be the case, we’re talking about something different here. We’re talking about personal branding. That doesn’t mean that you have to prance around, crowing about how great you are and that in your industry you have no equal. That’s not what marketing is about at all.
No matter how much you despise self-promotion, no matter how shy you are or how much of an introvert you believe yourself to be, marketing is all about teaching your clients about your business. It’s about explaining to all those potential customers who you are, what you do and why you do it. It’s about telling those clients what they need to hear.
Believe me, I’m right there with you when it comes to being apprehensive about self-promotion. By nature, I’m quite an introverted person. I’m most happy when I’m alone with my thoughts, not having to worry about the stress that comes with having to entertain someone else. But regardless of my own personal feelings, it’s something that I do anyway.
I don’t do it because I enjoy it. I don’t do it because I like hearing myself talk. I don’t do it for the thrill or the adrenaline rush. I do it because I have to. I do it because I know that my potential clients need to hear it; they need to know who I am, what I do and why I care enough to do it right.
I do it for the business.
If people like you they will listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.Zig Ziglar
Whether you’re a home inspector, a real estate agent or someone in a completely different line of work, if you’re running a small business, we’re all in the same boat. We’re all vying for a limited number of clients, fishing from the same pond as all our competitors. In one way or another, we’re all throwing out the same bait. We’re all offering a slightly different version of the same product to the same client base.
There’s only so much a home inspection can vary from one inspector to the next. There’s only a small amount of difference in the services offered by different Realtors to their home buying clients. Yes, there are subtle differences between us, but when we boil it down to the basics, we’re all offering a very similar product to the public.
It’s really splitting hairs when we try to come up with our own unique selling proposition in our niche.
The question then becomes, what does it take to stand out. What must we do for our clients to see the value in the product that we offer? How do we demonstrate the benefits of choosing us over all those other competitors with their remarkably similar products? What is it that makes our business stand out from the crowd?
What makes you unique, makes you successful.William Arruda
It’s up to each one of us to develop our own Unique Selling Proposition. It’s up to us to figure out what it is that we do different, better or in a more thorough manner than our competitors. And once we do that, it’s up to us to make sure that we broadcast that information effectively to the far reaches of our client’s universe.
In order to become someone’s ultimate favorite, you have to do the things other people aren’t going to do.Pat Flynn
Most of us are, in some way or another, afraid of self-promotion. We feel self-conscious about it. We think that we shouldn’t have to do it anymore. We believe that, for some reason, it just feels like a slimy thing for us to do. But, done correctly, self-promotion can be a wonderful thing. It doesn’t have to be creepy; it doesn’t have to be overbearing and it doesn’t have to overwhelm our lives. Once we develop our own unique and effective marketing system, it can be effective while being subtle. It can be eye-catching while remaining professional and (once it’s set up) it can provide year-round results while taking up very little of our valuable time.
Marketing is an important part of our jobs. Do some research. Learn from other successful marketers that have gone before you. Study some of the different possible avenues available to you and choose the ones that make the most sense for your situation. But most importantly, get off your butt and do something. Create your own personal brand so that your clients know who you are and why you’re their only reasonable choice.
The future of your business may depend on it.
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