I know there are many folks out there who still think marketing has an aura of evil about it. I used to be one of those folks, so I get it. But the days of making a deal with the devil to market your business are over. The Internet has made it possible to connect with people and still just be little ole you, without costumes, disguises, sleazy sales tactics, or – of course – selling your soul.
The genius of new media marketing is that you don’t have to be everything to everyone. Customers can sniff out the inauthentic in any business, so you pretty much have to be yourself – which is good, because who else would you be?
If you’re an entrepreneur or a small business owner, you can talk to, and more importantly, listen to, your customers online and provide them with education and resources to show you care and earn their trust. You do this through email and e-newsletters, blogs…your Web site, and social media. I’ll have posts on all of these methods to give you more details, but for now, just begin exploring your options. Look at what others in your field are doing. Read your favorite magazine’s Web site instead of the print version and note the differences. Sign up for a e-newsletter about something that interests you and write down what you like about it. Study.
It’s time to build your personal brand online, because I can assure you that your customers and potential customers are looking you up, and if you’re not there, they don’t have much to go on. This is your moment to shine. Showcase your expertise in any way you can, and let people know how the service or product you offer can help them, ease their burden, make their lives better or more beautiful – whatever it is you do. You don’t have to sell yourself if you truly believe in what you do. Just tell it like it is, be who you are, and start the conversation. People will come to you when they trust you and your business.
Start small, though. If you try to do everything at once, you won’t do a proper job of any of it. Pick one medium and focus your efforts in one place at a time. But before you start, there’s one major first step: Google yourself and see what turns up. The biggest part of any marketing effort is measurement. You have to look at where you are now and check in periodically to see how far you’ve come. It’s called benchmarking, and it’s like what they say about not knowing your history and being doomed to repeat it. If you put yourself out there and do it with gusto, you’ll never go backwards – only forwards.