Imagine you’re an entrepreneur who has recently set up shop and is now running a one-man show with your new startup. For some of you, this is probably the reality of your lives. What are some of the biggest challenges you likely face every day? We can bet one of them is getting the word out about yourself and building brand recognition with clients and consumers.
All companies struggle with brand development and discovery. If you are a single-person-company, the struggle to set yourself apart in your field can be even tougher. You might want to be a much-sought-after consultant or want to sell hundreds of products based on your offering. Either way, learning the nuances of marketing is a must for someone who doesn’t have other helping hands.
Marketing can be a problem area for many entrepreneurs; after all, most major brands have teams of specialists plotting out their marketing strategies. However, when you are a single person company, you are unlikely to have the resources to compete at that level. So how do you establish your presence and get noticed? You have got to be thrifty with your resources and go about it the smart way. Here are some tips that could be helpful for you:
Imagine you’re an entrepreneur whose business is taking workshops about entrepreneurship for students doing MBA. Who would you contact to build a network of universities and colleges you can approach for your workshops? Trying to reach out directly to the management of the B-schools would likely lead to a lot of time wasted thanks to red tape. Instead, you should consider connecting with recent graduates and alumni of these schools and colleges. A recommendation coming from alumni holds more weight than just somebody making a sales pitch.
The point here is that you should carefully identify and pick out the people most likely to help you generate business leads. Reaching out directly to C-suite level executives and managers can be tempting, but sometimes the people who can really help are a few steps down the hierarchy/ladder. Look out for people you can call ‘Connectors’, who can put in a good word for you and connect you with the folks who call the shots. Incentivize the process for the connectors, and see the magic happen.
You don’t really need a professional set-up and equipment to make high-quality videos for your audience. In today’s world, brilliant videos can be taken with simply a smartphone and some basic video editing skills. Do customers have a lot of questions regarding your product? Take the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and create a video answering all of them in one go. Reddit has a popular subreddit thread called “Explain like I’m five”. Get in front of the camera and explain your product to your audience as if they are a child/layman. Don’t be condescending; rather try to simplify your product/brand as much as possible to make it relatable to somebody without even basic knowledge of your sector. A series like this is bound to get popular when properly done.
If you’re taking the plunge into solo entrepreneurship, it’s likely you already have a network of former clients/partners you’ve worked with in the past. Find these clients who are ready to give a fillip to your venture with their testimonials because they know you can deliver. Get video/text recommendations; ask your clients to be as vocal as possible about their appreciation of you and get the ball rolling. Never be ashamed to ask for a recommendation. People are ready to help more often than you think.
We cannot stress the importance of using LinkedIn to get clients. However, do not just make a generic post/message, saying “Hey, I am looking for clients for my new venture.” This makes you look like just another company with nothing special to offer.
Let’s say you have worked with 30 different clients in the past. Can you create 30 stories/posts of how you solved the problems for each of these companies? Craft content around these stories. If writing isn’t your forte, get the help of a professional. Remember, your LinkedIn professional network can be your ultimate content marketing tool, even better than spending money on advertising.
Customer retention is a problem that plagues many companies. Establish relationships with your customers and make sure they are given the best service possible. Call them to check if they are happy with your service and if they are looking for an upgrade or even a new feature they’d like to see introduced. This might not seem like a big thing, but in today’s world where brands often fail to establish meaningful relationships with their customers, it can make a huge difference. When you service right, your customer will go from a mere consumer to a brand advocate. Sign up all your customers for your newsletters and keep them abreast with updates about changes in your product and new launches.
Remember, even as a single-person company, you need coordination and support from a lot of stakeholders to make your business work, from partners and suppliers to consumers. Things like understanding customer personas, identifying your target market, etc. are essentials you can’t afford to be lax about either. As a rule-of-thumb, give more value to your stakeholders than you receive, and slowly things will start looking up.