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Build a profitable business- the baby steps part 27

Self-promote. Whether you like it or not, if you are an entrepreneur you probably have to think in terms of self-promotion sooner or later. While we do not enjoy it, there are definitely benefits to it that cannot be overlooked. After all you don´t have a multi-million dollar budget for marketing and advertising each year, do you? You have to get your company name across with considerably less resources at hand. Don´t worry about it. There are plenty of ways in which you can get some advertising for free or at a very reasonable cost. But it will require some resourcefulness and extra work on your behalf. But first of all let´s cover the “why”? Why would you want to be in the limelight? If you are anything like us you would be just as happy just working really hard on your company. Surely the customers will come if I only apply myself, and do a superior work? Well, we figure it´s a good start, but the truth is we all need some exposure in order to be able to get ahead. Even if you don´t enjoy it, you must learn to accept it. It is an integral part of being an entrepreneur. Take an interview for example. It can last a few minutes and yet you can get a lot of free advertising from it. The benefits are there alright. By getting some exposure you become known as an expert on your specific business topic. And by becoming labeled as an expert, business is likely to improve. It is free advertising working its magic.

We employ a number of different tactics when it comes to get our company name across to our potential and existing customers. First of all we write a newsletter covering what is going on in our industry, and we have been doing it for the last 6 or 7 years. We have started to get quite a following and even though it is completely free and contains no ads (or hidden agendas) whatsoever, we feel the goodwill we are receiving from it is enormous. People come up to us on a regular basis and discuss our newsletter or just thank us for receiving it. We have only received a precious few customers as a result of our newsletter, but on the other hand we have received recognition as leading experts in our field of business and we have also received extensive media coverage because of it. We write articles for leading magazines in our field of expertise. The benefits of doing this are twofold. First of all we actually get paid for our articles. Second of all we get recognition as being experts in our field and we also get an URL to our business website. They way we are seeing it we are getting paid and getting the advertising for free. It´s simply a no-brainer and we usually try to write series of educational articles in order to achieve the maximum exposure. We also appear in mainstream media by being interviewed on TV, radio or for newspapers and magazines. Also we write articles on a regular basis for one of the internet companies we own. Even though we do not get payed for doing so, it enhances the content of our online media holdings and at the same time establishes us as experts in our field even further. We have also written books about our industry and from time to time we hold seminars and lectures on topics of interest within our industry. Neither the books nor these live performances add up to any major exposure, but it does make our authority status shine even brighter than before.

Nowadays you can always write content for a major online content website and get a high-level backlink to your businesss website in return. It´s the perfect barter of the information technology era. You provide the content, and they pay you in traffic (which is what that link is about ultimately). Other avenues in which you can receive self-promotion is by pursuing the web based resources that are available. Get a facebook page, a twitter account and a nice website in place for your company. Make sure you give people something to come back to on a regular basis. A blog, an active twitter account, a newsletter, plenty of useful information and how-to guides, or a forum can work out just fine in this respect if you can only get some initial traffic under your belt. We don´t care how you do it but doing some self-promotion is not only smart, it is a cost-effective way to reach out to your target audience and get some marketing going for you. We are not big fans of it, but we do acknowledge its value. Don´t miss out on this one.


Be an early adopter. Adapt and utilize new technology. If you are a small business operator chances are there are large corporations in the same are of business as yourself. This might feel a bit intimidation for many entreperneurs, especially if you are just starting out. Don´t sweat it. Many fo the strengths taht big corporations are so eager to exhibit are also weaknesses in many cases. What big corporations win in size, organization and complete package deals, smaller enterprises can make up by having nimble feet, being closer and more attentive to the customer, and specializing highly in one particular business area. But there are lots of other areas where small can beat big as well. One of the areas where we find that small enterprises have a real competitive advantage compared to big ones is the adoption of new technology. In general, large corporations can be a bit slower to fully utilize new technologies. They are a victim of their own size, and often a lot of paperwork needs to be done in order to decide on a new course of action when it comes to a new technology and how to relate to it. A smaller company on the other hand can just dig in and get it done. It can embark on the road of trial and error a lot more easily. The big company must consider its size and even if they do decide to pursue a new line of technology, they often tend to start out slow and try it out on a limited scale at first.

In the long run big companies catch up and even surpass the smaller ones when it comes to technological advances. But by then there are already new technologies around, and new iterative technology processses that need to be adressed. The cycle for new technologies is getting shorter the whole time. And it is this speed that leaves the smaller companies with some major opportunities. We believe that one of the smartest decisions any entrepreneur can make is to always try to pursue new technologies and be an early adopter. By doing that they not only gain a strategic first-mover advantage with regards to their competitors, they also convey to their customers that they are technological leaders and innovators of their industry. They are a winning team, and who doesn´t want to be involved with and do business with a winning team? There is another key factor that comes into play here. It is the fact that new technology comes at a reasonable cost. Moreover, since this cost is so neglectible even a small company can have the same chance as a big one to come across as a market leader. Think about that for a moment. That is a powerful statement right there. A website by a multi-national corporation can be equal to a website by a very small company. Size is less relevant on the internet. Small can beat big by being better and more fast-paced. And by the way, understanding how small or how big a specific internet website company is can be a dauting task.

As if these weren´t enough there is the issue of cost. Being an early adopter and adapting new technologies doesn´t need to be that expensive. You can do it on a shoestring really. In most cases it will take some time, and you might need to learn a lot of new stuff, but that´s just another part of being an entrepreneur, right? And besides, the potential rewards compared to the limited risk and cost of moving down this line, are simply staggering. A small enterprise working out of a garage can have the same website as Coca-Cola ir Microsoft. And they can build it at such a low cost that price really isn´t an issue. The way we see it, new technology is rapidly levelling the playing field. And the battle beteween big and small has never been more desparate than at this very moment in history. New technologies have turned entire industries on their head, by taking the strengths of the biggest corporations and throwing them out the window. So what if you have thousands of employees if your competitors can offer the exact same service utilizing only a dozen employees? So what if you have a balance sheet that makes you an economic powerhouse if your competitors can make it appear as if they are in the same financial shape as you are? So what if you have a better or bigger product line, if your competiitor can present their products with a better design or in a technically superior way?

While it is difficult for small to beat big in a head-on battle, small can often take the initiative and keep moving fast enough to evade frontal engagement. New technology is a great opportunity for smaller enterprises to take the initiative from the big multionationals and pursue a new way of doing business. Sooner or later the big corporations will catch up and even surpass the smaller ones, but that´s ok. The objective is not to win a full-blown war against tens of thousand of employees that the big corporations have on their payroll. Rather the objective is to take advantage of the speed and willingness to embrace change that the small enterprise possesses. When the big companies want to get in on a new technology or trend they have both the resources and manpower to achieve quite a lot in a relatively short period of time. But by then the small enterprise has already started looking into a completely new technology or trend that they can try out. Besides, keep in mind that all those resources that the multinationals can throw at a new technology comes at a cost. They have enormous payrolls, and expense accounts. A smaller player will have a hard time to keep up with the bigger ones once they get their steam up. But that isn´t neccessary in most cases, since the small enterprises don´t have nearly as large expenses to cover as the large ones. So if you are an entrepreneur sporting a small or medium-sized business, keep it on your toes and don´t be afraid to try out something new. The ability to use speed and flexibility in order to embrace change jsut might be your ticket to financial success.

You need to have a USP. That stands for unique selling proposition, and it conveys the specific benefit a consumer will get from bying your product or service. Why will people do business with you, what´s your competitive advantage? Remember that consumers are not really buying products or services. Rather, they are trying to buy a solution for a need that they have. And that is precisely why you as a producer of the product or service need to be speaking in a language that the customer understands. You are not selling scissors you are selling a hair cut. You are not selling a tennis racket you are selling a better game of tennis. You are not selling a music cd or theatre tickets you are selling 90 minutes of relaxing entertainment.

Every time you try to sell something you need to ask yourself in what way your product is unique. In what way will it benefit consumers and how do you get that message across to the consumer in a short, snappy and captivating fashion. You need to ask yourself in what way the product or service that you are offering will make your customers´lives a little bit easier. That´s your ticket. That´s what they want to know. Tell them how you are going to make their lives easier and they will love you (and your product or service) for it. As the name of the marketing concept, USP, implies there needs to be something unique about your product. You need some feature or claim that is not readily available in products or services that is being marketed by your competition. Putting it another way, your product or service needs proper differentiation from the rest of the market. The number of products and services out there are often so many and so varied you need to make your product or service stand out in some way in order to get noticed among the rest of the competing brands. These key point of difference are synonymous with the USP.

The USP is made up of three things. 1. Your product or service is unique and clearly sets you apart from the rest of the competition. 2. It persuades the customer to act and exchange their cash for the product or service you aer providing. 3. The sales pitch is formulated as a proposition or offer suggested for acceptance. But the most important task for a USP is that it clearly adresses a problem or a need of the market place and also provides a suggested solution for that need. A correct use of USP strategy can help you position your product, service and company as the best available choice in your market. It is a way to cut through the layers of useless information out there and lets you separate yourself from the rest of the market place. Know your USP by heart. Or risk being beaten by someone who does.


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