My son called me last week to tell me he is thinking of striking out on his own to start his own business. I was so excited for him. He has been an electrician for 13 years working for large and small companies. He asked for my advice on what to do first. I get asked that question a lot but when you are telling your son, you pause and think about it perhaps a bit longer. I’ve been doing this for a very long time, so there is a lot of information I need to pour in this vessel.
Many startups ask, Should I market my business before I open the doors or do I wait until I actually have the business up and running? Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? The marketing comes first, that’ s which one. You must build your network BEFORE YOU NEED IT. Get out early and connect with people. Provide your expertise early and show that you are here to be a valuable member of the community not just ask people to support your new business.
When you consider what marketing is, it’s communicating and building relationships with your ideal customers. So, if you just take that concept, when should you start communicating and building relationships? As soon as you can. You want to start identifying, connecting with, and building trust and likeability with people, sometimes even before you have an actual idea for your business.
Here is the advice and help I’m giving my son on how to start and market his new business:
Let Us Get to Know YOU:
People want to learn about YOU. Not just your promotions and sales material. They want to get to know and like you through the content you share. Don’t be afraid to share a little personality with your helpful content. Being likeable is huge when it comes to converting prospects to customers and with the use of today’s tools (blogs, social posts, video content) you can easily do this.
Show us a photo of you geeking out over new tools. Snap a photo of the pet duck you find in someone’s yard when you go to a job. Share a pic of your kids holding their tools wanting to go to work with you. (Hearts start melting all over the place)
If you are a consultant or you work mostly from home, you can share a photo of your favorite writing spot or a beautiful view on your morning walk as you get centered and ready to take on a big project. This tells us something about YOU! It makes you LIKEABLE.
If you are an expert in something, be sure you are sharing regular helpful tips to draw me in and show me that expertise. Just because someone claims to be an “expert” most people will want to see proof. And today that means through content you are sharing—blog posts, social media posts, email messages, videos, etc. Share helpful tips that help me and I will appreciate you and most likely come to you when I am ready to spend money.
If you are a relationship coach or expert and we meet at a dinner party, I might end up asking you about how to deal with a coworker who sits near me and smells bad. “How would you handle that type of situation?” These tips build trust, credibility and, depending on how you answer this question, possibly likeability. Share Q&A posts like this on social or your blog.
If you are an electrician and we meet at this same dinner party, I might ask you, “How hard is it to install the new outlets that have USB ports in them? Is this something I can do on my own?” Share these answers via short Q&A videos.
Stay Mobile and Use Tools:
To do what you have to get done each day, you either need to buy some roll-over minutes to expand your 24 hours, or learn to use your smart phone to stay productive in the “slivers of time.” Whether you are waiting for kids to finish soccer practice, or standing in line at the grocery store, you can get a lot of your marketing and follow up work done when you have a mobile phone with the right tools loaded on it. You can take payments, check on invoices, answer emails and so much more. A good mobile device is your office on-the-go, and what entrepreneur is not always on-the-go?
Using a social dashboard tool like Hootsuite App on your mobile, you can respond to comments or questions on the go. Having your email app on your phone allows you to be more responsive. There is no reason you should have to wait until you are home at night to respond to get back to people. If you add in Mailchimp, Canva, and Quickbooks, you may never have to go back to the office again!
When it comes to marketing your business, new or old, consistency is key. You cannot just market when you “have time.” If that were the case, it would NEVER HAPPEN! You have to make time to plan out your marketing content. For some reason when we get busy marketing seems to go by the way side and then shortly we are not busy at all and we panic. Keeping the marketing train going will help keep your business consistent.
Use tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, eClincher to plan your marketing content and schedule it. Spend a 2-3 hours on the weekend scheduling out photos, Q&A posts answering different customer questions and links to interesting articles you have so you don’t have to worry about it while you are busy with your business. You can respond to others and add in spontaneous content as you find it or as things occur, but you will have consistent content out there even if nothing new pops up.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of people who do what you do. It is the person that keeps doing it day after day, month after month, year after year, that stays in business. Everyone knows what to do but very few actually show up every day and do it. Be consistent and show up (physically and virtually) every day and 22 years later, you’ll be telling others how to start their business!
Mistakes I Made and Things I Wish I Had Done Differently:
Build Your Email List
You will likely hear this one from any entrepreneur you meet, and it’s true, start building an email list from the beginning. Don’t keep random email addresses in your Gmail or on business cards. Sign up for an email service like MailChimp. I like Mailchimp because it is free until you have 2,000 contacts and it has free automation features to set up a sequence of emails to go out without you having to do much, once it’s set up. Even if you don’t know what you’re doing in the beginning, just sign up for this and put everyone you meet into this database. You will be happy you did.
Market When You’re Busy
Another thing I had to learn the hard way is you need to market your business even when you are so busy with current customers that you don’t think you need to. Your marketing is relationship building for the future as well as for the present. When you turn that off, you will feel it in 6 months. If you have blog posts or videos you have created, add them into a tool like SocialJukebox to put them into an ongoing post schedule. This tool will help you keep your existing, and even old content, in front of a new audience as long as you’d like. It is different from tools like Hootsuite, as this tool puts your posts into a “jukebox” and puts it on auto-replay forever. It will mix them up and play them on different days and different times. You can adjust the schedule to ensure they don’t replay too often.
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