On finally conquering the fear of self promotion
It’s a great shame that some of the most brilliantly talented people who we meet at Ditto are those who are the most terrified of promoting themselves. It’s as if talent and an inability to blow ones’ own trumpet are directly proportional - they come hand in hand; you can’t seem to have one without the other.
The obvious problem with this is that if you don’t promote yourself, no-one else will. So this post is for the humble amongst you - those who are quietly brilliant yet too modest to shine in the way that you deserve to.
Hunt out an objective view
A lack of objectivity has so much to answer for. During our briefing sessions, the question always pops up: ‘what makes your business so special?’. Cue awkward squirming or blank expressions. People literally have no idea how to answer! And half the time it’s because they genuinely don’t know the answer. So if you’re asking yourself this question of your business before timidly venturing the answer ‘because we’re nice’, ‘because I’m a bit cheaper than my competitor’ or, worse, ‘I don’t really know…’, do yourself a favour and ask somebody objective. A favourite client, maybe? Or a business friend?
Gain some distance
Personally, I think that the biggest challenge that solopreneurs or small business owners have with promotion is that they see it being cloaked with an unattractive arrogance that simply isn’t in their nature. I completely understand; for many of us, the thought of standing up and yelling ‘hey, look at me, aren’t I amazing?’ is horrifying. If this rings true for you, try and see things from a different perspective by recognising that your business is its own entity. You’re promoting your business, not yourself. And what your business does is mighty cool, right? Treat your business as you would a good friend; tell them what they’re great at, nurture their talents and support them. Seeing your business as something separate from yourself can make promoting it infinitely easier.
Realise the link between promotion, sales and money
I know it’s jaw-droppingly obvious, but no promotion = no sales = no cash. There’s nothing quite like a bit of hunger to motivate action! In our early days at Ditto, we went on a sales training course that promoted the use of sales calls. I know - I can hear you shuddering. The thing was, back then our business was much younger and we didn’t have the weight of an established reputation behind us. The business was a very different beast, and winning work was a challenge. This meant that we simply had to put our brave pants on and pick up that phone to make some phone calls. The point is, there’s no point going slowly broke because the rest of the world has no idea that your business exists. There’s no prize for that.
Find a more refined way to promote your business
Promotion doesn’t need to feel sales-y. It doesn’t need to be hyped up, frenzied, neon signs screaming, ‘buy from me’! There’s a classier way to make people aware of what you do than that. To start with, establish a really clear understanding of who your people are, and where they search when they’re looking for what you do. Not only is this just really good sense, it saves you the hassle of promoting yourself to the wrong crowd. We spent far too long traipsing out to hideously boring networking meetings before the penny finally dropped that we’d never met a single client at any one of them. We joined these groups because it’s what everyone did at the time - and continued going for years out of some sense of duty to the business, even though they were utterly fruitless. I hated them, and I hated the awkward small talk even more. When we finally admitted to ourselves that traditional networking events were a waste of time, it freed us up to spend our energy and efforts promoting our business through different, and far more successful, channels. These days, we use Instagram and Pinterest very consciously, and have spent the time to make sure our website is well optimised to help people find us through google. Any physical events we go to are very carefully chosen; most recently I attended Nancy Straughan’s Grounded Creatives meet-up which was thoroughly brilliant. An intimate event attended by a collection of people just like us - perfect.
The point I’m trying to make here is that promoting your business is fundamental to its success, but there are so many options available to you in how you go about doing it. Promoting your business is something to be proud of, not feared. And if you find a way of catching people’s attention that feels comfortable, you’ll be away! You owe it to yourself to be able to show your business off, so if you take anything from this post, I hope it’ll be a nudge to get out there and make a conscientious effort to be heard. Go for it - you won’t look back!