The one factor which separates millionaire business owners from the rest is their willingness to promote themselves. Too many entrepreneurs hide behind a corporate façade, trying to make it look as if they have big corporations. However, people want to buy from people, and the business owners who put themselves and their personalities into their marketing attract more customers than those who don’t.
Does the idea of self-promotion create a sickening feeling in your stomach? A lot of business owners are shy because they don’t feel worthy of promotion. If you’re starting out in business and you are working out of your garage or at the kitchen table, it’s easy to assume no one wants to do business with you. It’s easy to undervalue your own skills. In response your first impulse is to create a big, fancy corporate name and to put up a website with an eye-catching logo. This is the opposite of what you should do.
Put your personality into your marketing and make your business look small. Customers love doing business with the owner, not some faceless corporation. Many of the most successful (and smart!) companies use a personality, or individual, as the front person in order to build a relationship with customers.
Take for instance, the Wendy’s restaurant chain. Years ago, Wendy’s had a famous commercial campaign where a woman said, “Where’s the beef?” Funny as those commercials were in the 1980’s, and as well-known as they became, they did not generate sales for Wendy’s restaurants. The campaigns that outperformed those entertaining commercials were those featuring Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s. Each time Wendy’s introduced a special sandwich, Dave would go to the studio and shoot a commercial. Now, this was painful for Dave and everybody else involved. He had never performed in front of a camera. It took him dozens of takes just to say his name right. But Dave stuck with it because these commercials generated more customers than any other advertising approach.
Even for a large business, having an individual become the “face” of the company is better than trying to look like a big, fancy corporation. In fact, one of the huge shortcuts to making your business more popular and generating new customers and trust in the services you offer is to incorporate your personality into the marketing and to make yourself part of what people are buying.
One of the most famous examples of this is Lee Iacocca and the Chrysler Motor Company. Chrysler was in turmoil; it was about to go bankrupt and had to borrow from the federal government to stay in business. The most important thing Iacocca did to revive his ailing company was to appear in the company’s television commercials. Rather than doing a voiceover or using a professional celebrity, Iacocca became the celebrity for the corporation. The commercials featured Lee speaking to the viewer, saying things like “Everything you have heard is true; however, our corporation is battling back, and we are delivering high-quality products at fair prices to our customers. If you trust in me, you will receive a high-quality product.” Well, Americans identify with an underdog. Iacocca’s sincerity and the fact he and his company were battling back endeared him to his potential customers, and Chrysler’s sales soared because of it.
A third example is Donald Trump. A lot of people do not like the Donald and are turned off by the amount of self-promotion he does. Donald is shameless; in every interview, he mentions how the next building is going to be the best building ever created, or a particular golf course is going to be the most popular golf course ever, the most beautiful, the most fun to play. Every building he has is going to sell out, and everybody involved is going to make more money working with him than they could with anyone else. Well, by saying these things over and over, even though he irritates many, he makes all of his boasts come true.
What holds true for Dave Thomas, Lee Iacocca and Donald Trump is also true for you. You may be shy, feel you aren’t worthy, or have been trained to be humble. All of that is fine—but not in business. In business, you will get paid to the extent you are willing to promote yourself.
You earn new customers by telling the world your products and services are the best and doing business with you is the most pleasurable and worthwhile experience the customer can have. You will make a profit to the extent you raise prices and encourage customers to compete with each other in order to have the privilege of doing business with you. All of this will come to you only if you are unabashed, only if you suppress fear and promote yourself. Now, what are some of the ways you can promote yourself within your business?
In the Name of Your Business
In the early 1990’s, Harley Davidson Motor Company encouraged its dealers to name their dealerships based on their locations, for example, Atlanta Harley Davidson or Las Vegas Harley Davidson. What Harley Davidson discovered changed its philosophy. Now the company encourages Harley dealers to incorporate the name of the dealer principle, the owner of the dealership, into the name of the business, and to make the dealer principle into a local celebrity. For instance, Bruce Rossmeyer owns the Harley Davidson dealership in Daytona Beach. It used to be called the Daytona Beach Harley Davidson; now it’s Rossmeyer’s Daytona Beach Harley Davidson. And for years in South Florida and Miami Florida, there was Peterson’s Harley Davidson. Harley Davidson knows how to sell motorcycles; you should borrow a page from its playbook. Use your name within your business to encourage folks to say, “You know, I trust him; I’m going to buy from him.”
In Your Marketing
Rather than include your logo all over your business marketing, it’s more important to include your image. Use your photograph, so people can see you and say, “Oh, yeah, I want to do business with him,” or “I want to call him.” Some business owners are concerned if they use their photos on all of their marketing, they are going to have a terrible time trying to sell their businesses later. Well, the fact is, people want to buy businesses that have lots of revenue, not businesses with pretty logos. If putting your photo in your marketing and characterizing yourself as a celebrity is going to generate more revenue for your business, then that is the fastest ticket to a high sales price for your business. You should do everything you can to include yourself in your marketing. Tell your story about how you got into business in as many of your marketing pieces as you can. This way, when your potential clients are researching which vendor they want to do business with, they can look at your story, consider who you are, and get to know you a little bit.
In a Monthly Printed Newsletter
Marketers who publish a monthly newsletter to keep in contact with their current customers and referral resources generate more revenue, better customer loyalty, a higher average purchase price, and a higher average purchase frequency than businesses that do not. A printed monthly newsletter is one of the most important tools any business owner can use to grow a business. Use this monthly newsletter as a tool to tell customers about yourself. If you have an opinion about something going on in business, in your community, or in your industry, tell customers how it relates to them and share your opinions on the subject. There may be some customers who get frustrated or upset with you, but in greater proportion you will attract ones who agree with you. These customers will be good customers for you and will be more loyal to you because they will feel they know you better. You can promote yourself and build a relationship with dozens or hundreds of customers all at one time through your monthly newsletter.
In Your Email List
In addition to the monthly newsletter, many business owners communicate with their customers through email list. This is a great way to send out bi-weekly, weekly, or daily updates about new products or new information about your products and yourself. It can be as simple as the business owner’s calendar (where are you traveling this month?), the types of customers you are dealing with, or success stories. All of these ideas are great materials to send to an email list.
In Your Blog
Blogging is new in the world of marketing, but it has become very popular for young people. Since more and more young people are making buying decisions, blogging is going to become more important in a company’s marketing mix. Blogs are easy to create. Go to www.Blogger.com and create a one for free. If all you do for now is make a monthly posting on your blog with content from your newsletter, it’s a good start. If you like, you can take your monthly newsletter content, break it up into four pieces, and post it each week. That way, you are able to recycle the same information you are sending to your customers. Post the information on your blog, and put a link to your blog on your website. Customers considering doing business with you or researching your company will be able to get to know who some of your customers are, they’ll see some of the things you are talking about with your customers, and they’ll be able to identify with you and say, “You know, this one’s for me. I can see this person is going to deal with me fairly and is able to do a good job since he has all these other customers.” Providing ongoing communication via a blog can be a great way to promote yourself.
Self-promotion is a great way to keep your marketing up-to-date. We all know how easy it is to create a website and allow the content to grow stale. It takes so much work to get a website set up, that when you put it online, the first inclination is to just leave it alone and go on to other things. However, through blogging and posting newsletters, you will be able to keep your site’s content fresh and changing. This way when somebody comes to your website a year from now, there will be 12 months’ worth of new information, even if it’s just monthly posts on your blog. If you keep your customers informed of what’s going on, of new products, of new things, visitors to your site will see a vibrant, successful business with lots of activity and lots of customers.
As much as I don’t like to do it, self-promotion is one of the most important things I can do as a business owner. And the same goes for you. I understand self-promotion doesn’t feel comfortable. I would rather speak through my actions than through my words. However, no one will know about my actions if I don’t tell them about it.
The extent to which you are willing to promote yourself will determine the number of customers you get and their willingness to pay you premium prices for the products and services you sell. Although you’ve been trained self-promotion is bad, self-promotion is one of the most important skills you can have as a business owner. Self-promotion equals new customers in your business.