“One comes to believe whatever one repeats to oneself sufficiently, whether the statement be true or false.”

—Robert Collier

Being Great Is Pointless If Nobody Knows

You can be the most talented, skilled, efficient, cost-efficient provider of your specific service in the business, but without strong marketing and promotion, your business won’t get off the ground. You need exposure. You need contacts. You need hype.

There are many ways to get the word out, depending on who your target market is. And nowadays many of them are free or accessible, as well as cost-effective. The personal face-to-face is always the best, but is labour-intensive. Phone calls and emails can add that personal touch. Building a buzz with social networking, webpages, or blogs is also an effective way to reach your audience. Do your research and think through a good marketing plan. Study market strategies, or pay attention to what others are doing in similar business situations.

But make it a priority. You don’t want to be the best kept secret in town, you want the word to get out. Whenever you have a successful business interaction, ask your clients to refer you to others if they are pleased. You can create an incentive-based program for this if it seems practical, but most people are happy to spread the good news for free. Be careful, the reverse is also true — you don’t want a marketing nightmare where you tick off a reporter who does a 10 week series on just how bad you are. So do your best to make every transaction have a happy ending — the only thing that spreads faster than good news is bad news.

Consider doing short demos, video clips, or introductory offers if you have a business that will encourage repeat customers. Get creative with your business cards to make them stand out. Use the unique nature of your business to market what is special about it. Make contacts with online and paper-based journals and see if you can get featured or interviewed — free press is awesome. And whatever method you decide to use for marketing, realize that it is an investment in present and future business.

I found out early in my self-employment that you need to continuously self-promote and not feel bad about it. You need to put yourself on the map!