Women in Business – Business Promotion, Networking & Sales
Guest post by Fiona Redding, founder of Vivacity Consulting. Fiona is a consultant, mentor & motivator, working collaboratively with women entrepreneuers to set up, manage and position their businesses for sustainable success & growth.
The early days of entrepreneurship can be really overwhelming. Identifying where to spend your time – which is a scarce resource – and working out your strategy can be all consuming.
To help you navigate your way through the avenues for promoting your business and selling your product/service, and to help you identify where your time is best spent, firstly, you need to have identified the customer for your product/service.
Secondly, you will need to have determined your mission, your values, your brand, your logo and your unique selling proposition (USP). It will also help to work out HOW you are going to sell your product/service;your pricing strategy, whether singly or as a package and method of sales (online, in a store, at a market, cold-calling or door to door for example).
This will influence all decisions you make in terms of marketing, networking and advertising.
Below are explanations of the main channels you will most likely be using, and some key strategies you could use:
Networking is first and foremost about developing relationships.
At what types of networking events are you going to meet your target market, or people who can assist your business in some way? What are your reasons for networking – to gain support, develop relationships, source funding or generate business leads? Seek out events that meet your criteria to prevent wasting (everyone’s) time and energy in the wrong places.
Marketing is about raising awareness of your brand, and improving the likelihood of sales.
What sort of marketing collateral do you need to promote your brand and your key messages? You could think about business cards, a website, brochures, banners, flyers, pens, magnets, uniforms and posters… the list goes on. And just because you can get 500 business cards printed for $45, doesn’t make it a good investment. This will often be the first interaction a prospective client has with your business – so make it count.
Advertising is about paying to deliver a message through another medium.
Advertising can be very expensive, and can include; ads in magazines, on radio or TV, in newspapers, on billboards, bus stops, buses, Facebook ads – you name it. Depending on your type and size of business will influence the decision to pay to advertise.
Social Media is primarily about having conversations and sharing information.
You could think about blogging (and guest blogging), Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, youtube, instagram – this is a very fluid medium and your social media strategy will need to be responsive and flexible to what your customers are asking for.
Social media is not a platform to shout to the world about your product or service – leave that up to advertising.
Public Relations is about managing the flow of information and the messages you want the public to see and hear about your business.
PR can be a great way to promote your business, especially if you have a good hook. Start with identifying the publications/programs relevant to your business, and which fit your target market, then write a press release, contact the journalist (by phone and follow up in writing) and if you can, provide a sample of whatever you are promoting. PR is also a great strategy when you have a bad news story that needs managing – don’t just hope it will all blow over.
Referral& Loyalty Programs involves encouraging existing contacts or already happy customers to continue to frequent your business, or promote your business and send new customers your way.
You might think about developing a loyalty program or referral program to encourage this. Are you seeking feedback from your customers about their satisfaction with your product/service & what could be improved? And most importantly, are you acting on it?
Promotions are a way to drive traffic to your website, store, Facebook page or market stall.
Make sure that a promotion is part of a strategy and not an ad-hoc attempt to boost sales. Desperate measures will cheapen your brand.
Again, think about what appeals to your target market. 2 for 1 offers, 20% off, giveaways are some examples.
And lastly, in closing, make sure with any investment in your business – be it time or monetary –that you are measuring its effectiveness and the return on investment (ROI), and then adjusting any future action accordingly.
Did we get you thinking? Have some feedback for us? Leave your comment below!