Self-promotion is a conscious act that must be followed methodically. Yes, people will find you by referral, but that’s not enough. You have to understand the techniques of ‘pushing’ your name and the name of your business ‘out there’ in the market. And it all starts in front of the mirror. You look at your reflection and say to yourself: “I’m good at what I do, I’m special and I make a difference”.
I work as an English copywriter serving clients all over the world. There are times when I’m swamped with work and when the phone is constantly ringing with people who say “I got your name from XYZ, I have an important project, can you help me?” It’s a good feeling when your only problem is time management for projects stacking up for you. But what happens when the phone doesn’t ring – and when there’s no stack of jobs?
We’re living in difficult times and it’s important to understand that a lot of what happens to you depends on YOU and YOUR ATTITUDE. Rather than use the crutch of “It’s a bad market”, “Everybody is complaining”, “All my friends are in the same situation as me” , you should ask yourself “What can I do that will make a difference?” There’s a lot!
The sense of self-worth stands at the center of all branding – whether it’s for a large corporation or an individual. You’ll probably agree that [supply a singer’s name] is one of the most popular singers in [supply your country]. This singer is a strong brand in his/her niche the way that Mercedes Benz is with cars. You’ll want to buy tickets to this singer’s show even though the price may be high.
You’re not a commodity
Each of us has something special and extraordinary to offer, if only we can define our target market correctly and package ourselves properly. Your talent, skills and added value should make price a minor consideration in the game. If people are just comparing your price or fees to others without checking what you’re capable of doing, then they’re not your target audience anyway. There’ll always be somebody around offering a cheaper price, and you’re not a commodity. You need to say: ‘Yes, that’s my price and I’m worth it!”
Define yourself with three questions
In order to convince others that you’re ‘worth it’, you firstly have to define exactly what’s your appeal for them. I’ve formulated three conversational questions to show you why depth is vital:
Who are you?
“We’re Plastex, a multinational provider of specialist plastic sheeting for agriculture” (an easy question to answer)
What do you do?
“We make agricultural sheeting – and we have a line of industrial sheeting too” (harder to start pigeon-holing yourself)
Why does it matter?
a) “Well, we make really good plastic sheeting” (not good enough, everybody says that!)
b) “We sell the widest selection of agricultural plastic sheeting” (still too general and unspecific – what if it’s not on your potential customer’s target?)
c) “We have the best people”
(again, it’s a general claim that many can make – nothing special here)
d) “We can make any kind of agricultural sheeting you need, to order”
(OK, now you’re talking…)
Can you see the process you need to follow to really explain yourself well? It’s something that I always find myself doing in my copywriting projects: peeling away the layers of my client’s story until I find something of unusual value.
We all belong to a tribe and a niche
It’s hard to convince somebody when you’re being too general in approach. Focusing on a niche and talking to your own ‘tribe’ is a key step. What do I mean? As I mentioned above, my niche is English copywriting and my ‘tribe’ consists of people who understand what good English copywriting can achieve. If a potential client calls me and says “I’ve heard you write English copy – how much will it cost to write a 4-page brochure?” (without reviewing what I’ve done before), then I’m pretty sure that he or she is not a member of my tribe and it’ll be futile to pursue him or her.
When you’ve served enough people in your niche and they start to say positive things about you, or send you referrals without you looking for them, then you know you have Brand Value.
The value of being different
Our brain acts as a filter to protect us from the mass of irrelevant information that surrounds us every day. It learns how to tell things apart, to pick out the differences. Imagine a design of black polka-dots on a white background and one red polka-dot. That’s you: the red polka-dot.
The other point to remember in ‘being different’ is that so much today is similar: products don’t have a great gap in quality. Even service (on the face of it) sounds similar. That’s why you need to look for points of difference and amplify them. Good marketing communications is an essential element for success today. The way that we communicate is the core to how people see us, how they recognize our brand and how they value our reputation.
You can be a successful brand for your target audience/niche provided you define/refine your message, be clear about what you’re proposing and present some convincing sales arguments. So don’t worry about what’s happening to others – just focus on yourself.
To finish: a relevant joke:
An American and a Japanese are being chased by an angry Grizzly bear. Suddenly the Japanese stops to put on running shoes. The American looks at him in amazement and says: “What, do you think you can outrun the bear in those shoes?” “No” replies the Japanese “but I can outrun you!”
Be the Japanese in the running shoes!