You are smart, tenacious, and extremely good at what you do, but you’re not wealthy or flush with venture capital. Now that you’ve launched a new business, it’s time to let the world know. We’d all love to see our ads in magazines, newspapers, and on television. If you don’t spend enough money to advertise in these media consistently, then you are probably wasting it. What should a poor business owner do?
GET OUT THERE
There are many opportunities to speak in public right around you. Contact a chamber of commerce or other trade organization to find out if you are able to speak at tradeshows or seminars. You can contact adult education or continuing education to find out if you are able to teach a course. Volunteer as a guest speaker at a local university. Send out invitations for your seminar.
Preparation is essential because the fear of public speaking often outranks that of death. Start with smaller groups to increase your comfort. It will be easier to present a standard presentation since you are familiar with the topic and the questions that may come up from the audience. Study your audience and include real-life stories that relate to their interests.
If possible, provide handouts to the audience overheads as well. Charts, graphs, and before-and-after statistics are excellent ways to demonstrate examples. It’s a terrible presentation when the speaker drones on without any visual aids or handouts. Engage your audience right away and encourage them to ask you questions or to meet up with you afterward.
One of the best methods to eliminate the butterflies that many of us experience when we speak in front of a group is to practice your presentation with friends and family. Allow them to give you constructive feedback and ask you some curveball questions. My husband, for example, prepares me to face any crowd by mocking me. After you have completed the verbal presentation and checked that all audiovisual elements are working, add them in. Sip water from a glass and pretend that you are receiving responses from the “audience.”
Shannon Entin is a 31-year-old entrepreneur and founder of the health and fitness website FitnessLink.com. She has used public speaking as a great advantage. Entin was invited to speak at trade shows in the fitness industry and created a program on how fitness professionals could use the Internet for their business. Entin was paid to speak at industry trade shows!
THE WRITTEN STUFF
Writing articles and books is another way to promote your business without spending a lot of money. Start small by contacting local business editors. Write about a subject you are familiar with and back up your claims with interviews, research, and your own experience. You can then send out queries to larger regional and national publications once you have some clips from your best work. You’ll need a copy of the latest Writer’s Market (Writer’s Digest Books, $27.99, www.writersdigest.com), and you’ll need to do your homework on the audience for each publication.
Entin also found success in securing articles for industry trade magazines. Entin earned money for writing these articles, but they didn’t cost her anything other than her time. Entin parlayed her experience into writing a book when she became a co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Online Health and Fitness (Macmillan, $18.95, www.fitnesslink.com).
One way to become a specialist is to write a book about your field literally. Noah St. John, 33, author of Permission to Succeed: Unlocking the Mystery of Success Anorexia (Health Communications, $14.97, www.permissiontosucceed.com), is the founder of The Success Clinic of America, a Hadley, Massachusetts, firm where St. John coaches corporate and individual clients who want to stop limiting their success.
St. John built his business and reputation through publishing. He began by self-publishing the book in 1998 and then had it released through Health Communications. St. John’s tips for writing an article also apply to publishing a book: find something to say that is interesting, say it interestingly, and use a title with a catchy hook. If you are writing an article, ensure that your premise, title, and theme can be stated in one sentence. He uses the phrase, “This book is about how so many talented, smart people are unable to achieve their goals.”
St. John gives the following advice on the business side of publishing: self-publish first before you go through a traditional editor, take a great headshot, and make your front cover impossible not to notice. St. John says that you should be ready to be your media expert, direct marketer, and salesperson.
St. John Entin used public speaking and publishing to grow their business on very little cash. Entin started with just her savings, and St. John had about $4,000 to work with. Both have grown their businesses into successful companies with large clientele by using targeted strategies to gain recognition.
Word-of-mouth marketing is the oldest form of marketing. Networking to obtain referrals can be a great way to start. Lisa Muller Jones, owner of Mojo Graphic Design in Portland, Maine, and a graphic designer, began her freelance career in 1990. She became a full-time designer in 1996. Muller-Jones never paid for advertising. Her entire clientele is a result of referrals.
Muller-Jones was working for a multinational corporation with offices around the world when she decided to take on self-employment. She left behind the security, benefits, and benefits of her job to launch her own business. All she had was her car, her cell phone, and her computer.
She moved to a different city when her business was starting, which made the transition even more difficult. Muller-Jones moved to Portland, Oregon, from Chicago in 18 months and had 12 to 15 clients a month. How did she manage to do this with no advertising and no money?
Muller-Jones says, “Fea, carelessness, and follow-up are important, as is friendliness, flexibility, and friendliness.” When my husband Max and I decided to move to Portland, I sent emails to 10 advertising agencies to request a meeting. She received five replies, five interviews, and three clients from those ten emails. She says, “I have done some print advertising for trade, and I’ve not received a single call.” “I think that personal relationships with people and prospects in your field are more effective for attracting new clients.”
Muller-Jones finds ways to stay in regular contact with clients once she has them. She is constantly researching “best practices” and sharing the information she has uncovered. It’s a business that has an immediate need, so I must be the first person they call when they require a brochure lo, go, or package design. This approach worked for Muller Jones in a very short time. On her first day, without even having an apartment, she was able to land a job with a shoe company through an agency. “I called to check in, and they asked if I could be there in 40 minutes. ” She was.