Growing up in a family of entrepreneurs, I learned early that you must self-promote on a daily basis if you want your business to succeed. Since my family had many different businesses, we were always promoting something new. Most of our businesses started out with little or no investment; therefore, self-promotion was essential to getting those businesses from idea to success.
My father taught me that the first step in marketing success is to have a strong belief in yourself and your ideas. No matter how crazy other people may think your ideas are, you must believe strongly enough to never give up.
Back in the mid-seventies, Dad was on one of his long solo motorcycle trips from Indiana to Texas. While in Texas, he saw a mini-storage facility, one of the first in the nation. The business intrigued him, so he pulled in to inquire. Dad asked the owner detailed questions about the business. The owner was very proud of his new business and open to sharing as he gave him a tour of the grounds. As Dad rode back from Texas, he brainstormed about how he could start his own mini-storage business.
Inspired by his newfound idea, Dad shared the news with the family. Not knowing much about it, we went along with his idea. He had a way of convincing and motivating most anyone when it came to a new business concept. The next step was to go to the bank and get a loan—simple enough, especially because Dad had proven himself with numerous other business ideas.
The bank didn't go for it. "I've never heard of a mini-storage business. It sounds like a fad to me. I don't think it will work," said the banker.
Bank after bank turned Dad down, until one banker gave him a small loan based on his past successes. Dad took the small loan and made the rest happen by working long hours on the building's construction. My father and brother were hands-on throughout the process, pouring concrete and helping the construction crew finish the project. They turned Dad's new business dream into a reality.
Even before the mini-storage buildings were completed, we had a long list of interested customers. This new fad took off like some crazy dream. As soon as the buildings were completed, they were filled. Before each new building was complete the customer waiting list was full. Finally, the bank believed in the concept. Dad had no problem getting funds to complete a second location.
How can you be successful if you don't believe in yourself and what you have to offer to your customers? You can't! Therefore the first step in shameless self-promotion is having a strong belief system.
In this article you will learn how to discover the beliefs and science behind self-promotion. In addition, you will begin to understand how such a belief system will play a strong role in your own success.
THE SCIENCE OF SELF-PROMOTION
Studies have found that self-promotion is directly related to success. All successful people are self-promoters, from Madonna to Dennis Rodman, Billy Graham, Jimmy Carter and Martin Luther King Jr. Some do it with more political acumen or integrity than others, but we all must self-promote to succeed. In fact, we were self-promoting in grade school when we raised our hands in fervor to show the teacher we knew the answer.
Undeniably, there is unethical self-promotion. We've all witnessed it, and maybe even lost business to it. But that's not what we're discussing. You can do shameless self-promoting with class, ethics and truth. As Will Rogers said, "If you done it, it ain't braggin'."
Natural self-promoters are those people who don't hesitate to show the world what they can do and have done, and for which they receive recognition in the form of money, fame or service to others—their rewards for many "sales." We can emulate what works for them, regardless of our goals.
The first ingredient is position. Natural self-promoters position themselves frequently with people who can make a difference in their goals. They automatically wake up each morning asking themselves, "Who can I meet today who will make a difference in my success?" Then they get themselves in front of those people.
Ask yourself the same questions: Who can help me meet my goals? Is it a prospective customer? Is it a colleague who has contacts? Is it an association with key members who may be prospects?
Too frequently we settle for working with the people who are the easiest to reach, not the most effective. Work on meeting the one person who can have an impact on your life, versus the 25 who cannot.
The second behavior of natural self-promoters is style. In marketing, we call this differentiation. Ask yourself what is it about you that's different, and what makes you memorable to your customers or potential clients?
How do people remember you? Are you distinctive in some way, and do you point it out? If you meet a lot of people and they seem to forget meeting you, you have a problem, but also an opportunity—an opportunity to present yourself in a more memorable way. It might be your message, your picture, your business card, your words or your hairstyle. Maybe it's the uniqueness of what you offer, or how you relate your experience to their particular issue, or how you know what their issues are in the first place, or even your personality on the telephone. Best of all, it might be your obvious caring about them and how you demonstrate that caring.
The third attribute of natural self-promoters is repetition. Natural self-promoters don't say it once; they say it many times. If you had seen a wonderful commercial once, would you remember it? Probably not. Advertisers know this principle, which is why they design multiple impressions for their target markets, and why we get to see those commercials over and over and over. We, too, have to make multiple impressions in order to achieve "brand awareness."
Repetition also applies to positioning. Once you've found people who can make a difference in your success, find hundreds more! One lesson I've learned repeatedly is the importance of follow-up calls. Follow up on everything—your service, your commitments, your attention to detail and your mailings. Even follow-up on your follow-ups!
In these days of work inundation and multiple priorities, most people don't return phone calls. What does that mean? Nothing! Just because you've left them a message doesn't mean you can sit back and wait for a return call. If that's your strategy, you'll lose the business. Keep calling and following up! Keep up the repetition! If it's an existing customer, find reasons to call, such as giving them results of your previous work with them, providing purchasing ideas for the future, etc.
Debbie Allen is an international professional speaker and author of Confessions of Shameless Self Promoters. This article is a sampling from that book. A free chapter from the book may be downloaded at www.confessionsofshamelessselfpromoters.com where visitors also can sign up for a free electronic newsletter. Allen can be contacted directly at (800) 359-4544.