Are you afraid that if you embark on a little self-promotion, you’ll be shouted down as egotistical or ‘full of yourself’? PR and marketing specialist Annette Densham says it’s time to ditch that attitude, quick smart!
There’s an insidious poison in the modern business world. This poison wraps tendrils around the soul, trapping voices that need to heard, and stunting growth of businesses who have amazing solutions to current problems. This scourge in business keeps the problem-solvers ducking for cover and destined to be the ‘best kept secret’.
This poison is the fear of self-promotion.
If you stray into any Facebook business group, the rules clearly proclaim: no self-promotion. It is a dirty couple of words and can make you feel like it is the worst thing you can do in business.
Self-promotion is NOT a dirty word
In business, the fear of self-promotion is a barricade to success. For many small and micro businesses, having the dollars to market and pay specialists to promote can be a challenge. The skills and expertise needed to market a business is also a barrier to stop being the best kept secret.
So, if you cannot afford to pay someone to promote you, how do you get your business out there?
It is time to redefine self-promotion as the artform. When done well, with integrity and humility, it can be a powerful connection tool that brings business to your door.
Self-promotion is not a dirty word, despite how many social media business groups position it as something shady and sleazy. Okay, some people are blatantly over the top when it comes to pushing their wares, making themselves seem more important than they are; that’s a big turnoff. Being on the receiving end of someone who just wants to sell something is not pleasant; they’re not interested in whether we want the thing or not, they just want the sale or to look good. It is ALL about them.
It doesn’t mean you have to do it like them.
If it is to be, it is up to you
Think about why you started your business. Probably because you have a skill and a talent for solving a problem – a problem needing solutions. Right? You left your safe job – or were pushed – or just knew you wanted to have a go, because you could make a difference.
Regardless of whether your solution is an app, a service, or a product, people need what you have – and you have to find a way to consistently tell them you exist.
It is tiring. If you are not a naturally out-there person, it strikes fear into your heart.
When you started your business, there was nothing in the brochure about how you’d have to change how you show up in the world – to do something that is your worst nightmare – be in the spotlight, put yourself out there.
It’s not as simple as hanging out a shingle with your business name and logo, starting a business page, or creating a website. Building it is not enough.
People do business with you
The magic marketing fairy is not going to sprinkle customer dust; you will be waiting a long time, you already have been. Or, you have a budget and hired a professional to do it for you, but you’re still not happy with the results.
People don’t do business with your logo or your website, they do business with you. You must let them in – in some form. This doesn’t mean you have to wear your heart on your sleeve, it does mean you have to get better at self-promotion.
It is easier than you think – but it starts with you, and what goes on between your ears. Blowing your own horn is hard, especially if you grew up in a household where children are to be ‘seen and not heard’, or you were told not to ‘show off’, or you have already been a victim of the tall poppy syndrome. There is no room in business for modesty; it holds you back and benefits no one. Done well, it can grow and build a beautiful business and incredible relationships.
Getting comfortable with promoting oneself is one of the biggest obstacles to overcome. It can be overcome; it takes time and strategy to do, but the rewards are bountiful.
4 steps to overcome the scourge of self-promotion
1. Give a little more
It feels counterintuitive to give away your IP, products or time for nothing. After all, you’re in business to make money. But if you subscribe to the law of reciprocity, it is a way of building trust and connection with those who need what you have.
Giving or doing something for free lets people see ‘behind the curtain’, get a sneak peek. While they are getting to know you, they are more inclined to buy from you.
2. Follow the rules
Most business groups – online and offline – have rules of engagement; what and how they expect you to show up. Fair enough, it is their platform and they’ve put in the work to build it. If you want to take advantage of their hard work, follow the rules of the group.
Create a table of the groups you are in, the theme days and rules (I bet they say no self-promotion, putting it right next to spam) and create content to go on those days. Mix it up and try not to promote the same content in the same group on the same day. If you do this consistently over a few months, you will build an incredible network of followers and prospective customers … because you have been giving.
3. Be you
Wherever you show up – do you, be you.
Yes, there are lead funnels to fill, trip wires to create, blogs to write, social posts to conjure up, and so many other things to do to build your venture. Yet, the most important ingredient is you, and the benefits are connected relationships who are looking for someone to do business with. People do business with people.
It is so much easier to not post anything, hide behind an About Us page or brush off compliments. Own what you are good at and be willing to share with others.
4. Tap into street-cred
One of the best ways to share your story is through the media. Public relations is a great tool – not just for the big end of town.
Seek out media outlets that align with your audience and share a story about your business journey, or an element of your business that will appeal to their audience. When they run the story, that is the ultimate in third-party credibility. It is not you saying you are great at what you do; it’s the journalist.
The same goes for entering awards – when your business is judged by a reputable awards program, you are tapping into third-party credibility.
None of these tactics costs cold hard cash to implement. It may cost you a few deep breaths, a little time, a whole lot of butterflies in your tummy, and a sense of discomfort as you make these few changes to stop being the best kept secret.
But it works. It takes time, but if you commit to these four things, you will build connections with people who need and want you, long before they even realise it. And when they do, you are firmly embedded in their hearts and minds because you gave more, you did more, and you were you.
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