Into The Limelight
by Steven Van Yoder
There are over millions of small businesses today vying for our attention. Yet, the marketplace is more discriminating and skeptical than ever. To get the greatest return on your marketing efforts, you need to rise above the crowd. You need an edge over the competition. In short, you need to be to be slightly famous.
For many small businesses, the best strategy involves establishing an expert reputation that distinguishes you as the right person to address your clients' and customers' needs. Unlike most businesses that are virtually unknown, expertise lifts you from anonymity, positions you as the authority in your field and helps you stand out from the crowd.
Small business experts Paul and Sarah Edwards, authors of Getting Business To Come To You, note that cultivating an expert reputation means cultivating "top of the mind" awareness for your business among your target market. "You need to become so well-known in the right circles that when someone needs what you have to offer, your name will either immediately come to mind or be the first one mentioned whenever they turn to others to find what they need."
Experts are sought after, get more business with less effort and command higher fees. They also possess credibility that makes it easier to sell themselves. Experts also leverage their reputations and spread outward in new directions, packaging their expertise into articles, books, speeches, seminars and workshops and information products.
Publishing articles, columns and books are powerful techniques to establish your expertise. Publishing pre-sells others of your abilities and exposes you to thousands of prospects. And reprints of published articles make excellent, low cost sales literature, easily replacing expensive brochures, mailers, and newsletters.
Kimberly Stansell says publishing created tremendous name recognition for Research Done Write, her Los Angeles-based consulting and training firm. Her syndicated column "Bootstrapper's Success Secrets" appears in dozens of entrepreneurial publications, association newsletters and business web sites. "The name recognition my column has given me is tremendous," says Stansell. "I get invitations to participate in events and other business opportunities. And I can automatically charge higher fees because people assume I'm expensive."
There are endless opportunities to publish your expertise. Thousands of business, trade and Internet publications covering every imaginable industry and audience are fairly easy to break into, even for beginners. If you have a good idea, tailored to a specific readership, there are thousands of publications hungry for articles from business professionals.
Find A Podium
When Robert Middleton moved his marketing consulting practice to Palo Alto, California years ago, he had to develop strategies to generate new clients. He contacted local chambers of commerce, business groups, and organizations likely to be interested in his three-hour marketing workshop. Within months, Middleton not only had plenty of clients but also made a name for himself in Silicon Valley as a marketing expert for professional firms.
On any day, there are thousands of speaking opportunities available to small business owners who take the time to seek them out. To find an available podium to promote your business, contact clubs and groups in your community that conduct speeches and workshops. If you have a good topic that is relevant to their membership, most will be happy to hear from you.
Middleton sends each group an introductory package. It includes a cover letter naming other groups that have sponsored his presentations, a biography, a short description of his suggested talk, and comments from those who have attended his seminars. Middleton now conducts three to five such presentations a month, tailored to individual audiences.
Virtualize Your Expertise
Have you noticed that many high paid, respected professionals publish information materials? You can establish expertise, generate additional income and develop a compelling brand identity by developing books, booklets, e-books, audiocassettes, special reports and other information products based on what you already know.
CJ Hayden began life as a professional coach ten years ago in San Francisco. After years of delivering her "Get Clients Now" program to local audiences, she franchised her ideas and took them to a national marketplace. "I trademarked the name, taped a workshop, and wrote a 50 page workbook. I created an "out of the box" package so others could produce my program on their own." The success of her "brand extension" strategy even helped her land a book deal to publish Get Clients Now! A 28-Day Marketing Program for Professionals and Consultants
Success breeds success. Your goal is to create a synergy between your products, services, and reputation so that each compliments the others.
Send information products to prospects. Use them for "back of the room" sales at speeches and workshops. Boost your profile by promoting products in articles, press releases, and at networking events and trade shows. Also, list your products in the catalogues and directories of trade associations, book clubs and business groups.
Keep It Going
Investors know that the best returns go to those who are patient. Not every article, speech or workshop or information product will make your phone ring off the hook. But, if you are consistent, you will develop an expert reputation that will help you land new clients and customers and make your business a recognized and reputable name in your marketplace.
Steven Van Yoder is author of Get Slightly Famous: Become a Celebrity in Your Field and Attract More Business with Less Effort. Visit www.getslightlyfamous.com to read the book and learn about 'slightly' famous teleclasses, workshops, and marketing materials to help small businesses and solo professionals attract more business.
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