By Rasheed Ogunlaru.
Life and business coach, Rasheed Ogunlaru, shares tips on standing out from the crowd and building your profile.
Are you a running a small business? Is marketing or PR support beyond your budget at the moment? If so a few simple steps can help you become your own brand, boost your profile and your business.
You are your brand — Top 10 Tips
First thing’s first. If you’re a sole trader or run a small business then you are your product. Before anybody will buy your product or service they have to dig you.
Ensure that you always are:
1. Smart , look the part: Reflect the message / aspirations of your business
2. Personable: Be warm, friendly, approachable and genuinely interested in everybody. Thousands businesses / entrepreneurs fall at this hurdle. Everyone is or knows your potential clients.
3. Professional: Be punctual, polite and deliver the goods on time.
4. Informed: know your stuff, your staff, products and your industry
5. Flexible and open to new ideas
6. Keep promises — or don’t make them
7. Learn from your successes and shortcomings in equal measure
8. Study and learn from leading entrepreneurs and businesses
9. Memorable — positive, helpful and interested and interesting
10. A great communicator: ensure your spoken and written communications are always accurate, lively,
Clear vision — empowering mission
Most business fail by failing to have a mission or objective. Identify your targets. Know your business environment. Identify your tools, allies and resources. Map out the steps and deadlines to achieve your goals and review them regularly.
1. Set a clear values for your business that motivates you, your team and the public
2. Stand out: Sum up your business in a short, simple, punchy sentence. So that everyone can instantly understand, remember and be interested in what you do.
Spread the word
If nobody knows who you are and where you are your business will die. It’s down to you to tell them. Everybody you meet is a potential client or will know someone who could benefit from your product or service.
Networking — Build awareness of your business — Top ten tips
1. Research and join key business or trade and social groups in your field and beyond (cost may be a factor) but balance it against potential brand awareness, contacts and sales
2. Make sure that you include networking at events, places where your ideal clients are — otherwise you’ll never meet them
3. If you’re nervous picture yourself being relaxed, comfortable, chatty and interesting ahead of the event
4. When networking relax, be yourself, be genuine and be at your best
5. Take a genuine interest in others and their work — this opens people up to being genuinely interested in you
6. Help others — business comes to those who signpost and direct business to other people.
7. When explaining what you do keep it short, snappy, simple with lively examples of how you have helped people.
8. Remember one good strong contact is better than ten superficial ones.
9. Gently tell — don’t hard sell
10. Be personable, passionate and professional — this is the best way to attract business
Essential Promo material[b]
You don’t need big bucks create a strong brand image. But it’s key that your promotional material is strong, clear, consistent, eye-catching, professionally produced:
1. Have designer create a logo that reflects you /your product or service
2. Get some good quality pictures of yourself, your products / service
3. Produce professional business cards
4. Gather and then use testimonials of success stories / happy clients
5. Launch a website — keep it smart, simple, informative and attractive
A website is your virtual store so ensure it represents and sells you.
6. Produce leaflets and flyers — make them catchy and punchy
Forming partnerships is one of the most effective ways of broadening your marketing base, gaining services, raise awareness of business and attract new customers. Partnerships take many forms from sharing contacts, skills and referring business — running to joint initiatives, linked services and offers web links.
1. Identify complimentary businesses and links that would help you
2. Identify target groups, contacts and markets you’d like
3. Identify ways that you can help potential partners and vice versa
4. Only form partnerships with those you trust and match your values.
Be your own publicist
Good media coverage can boost your business and profile. It’s not for everyone or every business but will suit you if you’re a lively, focused, confident communicator with an interesting product / service. To interest the press, radio, web or TV coverage, you need:
1. A sexy a ‘news’ or ‘feature story’: something wide interest.
2. A press release (a snappy one page summary for the media) with facts, figures, quotes, your contact details and a catchy headline. Make it accurate and factual
3. Over 90% of press releases are binned. Make yours strong and memorable
4. If you’re an expert in your field you may be attractive to the media for more specialised coverage, contributions or interviews
5. Start off with local media or trade press — you’re more likely to gain coverage
6. Media outlets are busy and work to tight deadlines — be polite and to the point