Picasso was a great artist. But art was not his only talent. Picasso also thoroughly understood the cult of celebrity.
And as small business people, we need to understand it, too, and do what we can to become celebrities in our own right.
Why? Because as consumers, we view some people as “worthier” or “more expert” than others, just because they’re better known. In fact, these people may not be any more talented or do a job better than someone completely unknown, but we assume that they are more skilled or talented just because they’re more famous. And because they’re famous, their names become currency in themselves. We like to point out that we have a garment or a window treatment designed by a famous name rather than by Tara Unknown.
And, of course, we're willing to pay much more for a garment or window treatment designed by someone well known.
Now as small business people, very very few of us will ever become as well known as Picasso. But it’s still important for us to do what we can to add some sparkle of celebrity to our own names. The payoff is literal; the better known we become, the more customers or clients we’ll draw and the higher the fees we’ll be able to command.
If you’re just starting out, here’s a cheat sheet of what you should or could be doing to get known. And if you’re already established, read through the list and see if there are any strategies you’ve missed that could do even more to spread your fame. These “get known” marketing strategies are ranked from least common to most common. The less commonly employed strategies tend to take more effort.
1. Get on TV.
The beauty of TV is that viewers see you and if they see you in action, they start to think they know you.
The most effective version of this marketing strategy is to have your own TV show. Think of Mike Holmes and Debbie Travis, for instance, and what having their own shows on the Home and Garden Network has done for their careers. Think they have any trouble getting all the business they can handle?
However, even if you can’t manage to get your own show, you can still be on TV. Many programs, such as news programs, are looking for guests for expert segments. You can also buy your own TV time, creating ads and/or infomercials about your products or services.
How to get started: Search for TV programs that regularly feature guests and might see you as a suitable candidate. Then find out who the right contact person would be and make your pitch for a guest appearance.
2. Get on the radio.
Radio is far from dead and being a guest on radio is another great way of getting known that relatively few are using.
The key to making it on radio, as Kimberly Henrie says, is to be an entertaining guest and offer the producer/show host something to offer their listeners. Read more tips from Kimberly Henrie in 11 Dos and Don’ts for Getting Free Radio Promotion.
How to get started: Seek out radio programs where you would be a good fit as a guest and contact the producer/show host with your pitch.
3. Write a book.
Being an author tends to confer instant expertise and a certain amount of instant celebrity, too. And the great thing is that literally anyone can produce a book now, thanks to the variety of self-publishing tools available.
There is absolutely nothing to stop you from producing a book except time. All you actually have to come up with is the concept; there are always plenty of underemployed writers around who will be glad to ghostwrite your book for you for a fee.
And you don’t have to write a full-length novel, either. Shorter books and ebooks are becoming increasingly popular, opening whole new vistas for showing off your expertise. A restaurateur might put together a booklet of favourite recipes, for instance, while a realtor might create a booklet of showcasing tips for people wanting to sell their home.
How to get started: Focus on your expertise and come up with ideas for possible titles. Then choose one or more of these titles and write a chapter by chapter outline. (This will give you a sense of whether or not the project would work and how long the finished book would be.)
4. Create /sponsor an event.
Publicly supporting charitable causes isn’t just fashionable anymore but de rigueur for savvy businesses. The charity event is a lovely piece of PR, of course, but it’s also an attempt to sway the influencers to prefer one company’s products or services over another.
While large corporations can afford to sponsor many different events, one of the best ways for a small business to employ this marketing strategy to get known is to select one charitable cause and connect their charitable giving to an annual event. You could be one of the main sponsors of a walk or drive, or even start such an event of your own.
How to get started: Choose a cause that you believe is important and see if any annual fundraising events for that cause already exist in your community. If they do, find out how you and your company can become a sponsor. If not, start brainstorming what kind of fundraising event for that cause might be successful and how you could get other interested parties on board.
5. Give lessons.
A masseuse giving workshops on aromatherapy. A retailer who sells kitchenware giving cooking lessons. Giving lessons is an extremely powerful marketing strategy for small businesses.
Offering lessons to the public related to your product gives you the opportunity to form a relationship with potential customers and introduce them to/kindle their interest in your products. And by giving lessons, you’re setting yourself up as an expert. The next time your “student” wants to know something about your topic, you’re the one he or she will contact. Here’s more information about giving lessons and seminars.
How to get started: Put your thinking cap on and brainstorm what kinds of lessons or workshops you could present that are related to your products or services. Then choose the idea you are most comfortable with and plan a lesson or short series of lessons.
You can also raise the profile of your small business and get known with these five marketing strategies. (Remember that the ten marketing strategies in this article are ranked from least common to most common and that the more of a “celebrity” you become, the higher the fees you’ll be able to command.
6. Work for your community.
Nothing will seed and grow goodwill for you better than to be seen working regularly to make your community a better place. Regular donations to your Food Bank or other local charity, serving on town committees, doing volunteer work – all the positive things you do transform into others' positive thoughts about you and by extension, your business.
Many of the small business people I talk to in person and via email are already doing this; applying this marketing strategy is just a matter of making the work they do public. Does this idea make you uncomfortable? See my article Blow Your Own Horn to learn how to promote yourself consciously and gracefully.
How to get started: Choose a cause or causes and get in touch with the organization or charity involved to see what they need and what you can do for them.
7. Create and send out a newsletter.
The newsletter is the workhorse of self-promotion. Sending a newsletter to your customers or clients, either through the mail or via email, lets you contact them on a regular basis, and, if done well, lets them form a connection with you and your company.
The kind of newsletter you send out should not be a product pitch but more a sharing of information that should be useful to the customer or client. You might include information on a special offer or product, but the bulk of the newsletter should be articles or tip lists. The keys to a successful newsletter are readability, usefulness and publishing on a regular schedule. For more about creating your own newsletter, see Newsletters Are Smart Marketing by Janice Byer.
How to get started: Collect the email and/or mailing addresses of customers (and potential customers if possible). Design and write a sample newsletter and decide on a publishing/sending schedule.
8. Write articles.
If you can write well and are prolific, writing articles can be an excellent marketing strategy and turn you into a household name! Well, maybe I exaggerate a little here, but certainly writing articles can establish you as an expert in your field and draw more business your way.
The tricks to using this way of getting known successfully is to get your articles published in the right places and to be sure that your articles give the interested reader somewhere to go to learn more about/get in touch with you – such as your own Website. (See Way to Get Known # 9.)
What are the right places? Web sites, blogs, magazines, ezines, newspapers that your ideal customers or clients have a good chance of using. This page of my article 10 Low-Cost Ways to Promote Your Business gives more information about writing articles.
How to get started: Research to find “the right places” to send your articles. Examine these sites, magazines or papers and brainstorm suitable article topics that would interest their audience and relate directly to your business. Writing the article(s) is next...
9. Create a Web site and/or use Social Media.
Most of the people who try to use this marketing strategy to get known fail. They make the mistake of creating a Web site, blog, or Facebook page about the wrong thing – themselves. Sure, your potential clients want to know the basic information about you, such as your name and contact information. But frankly, they don’t care about your vital statistics or your personal life.
What they care about is your expertise, and that’s what your Web presence has to showcase if this marketing strategy is going to work for you. So make sure that your Web or social media sites display your expertise and gives your web visitors a way to sample it. You can do this by providing articles or tips about subjects related to what you do, by having a visual portfolio, testimonials from satisfied clients, or even take and post questions and answers from site visitors.
How to get started: Design a Web site focused on your expertise yourself or hire a professional to do it. Buy a domain name, get a Web host and publish your site on the Internet. C.J. Hayden presents advice for creating a Web site to sell professional services in 5 Internet Marketing Myths. Establish a Social Media presence - to get started see:
10. Join the “right” organizations.
Some people make the mistake of separating businesses and consumers in their minds. They seem to think because they’re marketing to consumers, they don’t need to bother with other businesses, except for supplies. Wrong! Other business people are consumers, too – as are their families, their friends, their suppliers and their customers – all people who might be interested in what you have to sell if they got to know you.
That's why joining organizations specific to your industry or field and other business organization, such as your local Chamber of Commerce, Business Association and/or networking group is so popular a way to get known. And by participating in these organizations, you also contribute to the well-being of your business community. In addition, some even offer financial benefits to members, such as discounts on insurance.
How to get started: Pick the organizations that interest you and find out how to join. Note: I recommend joining only one or two networking groups at a time as you want to be able to participate as fully as possible.
Yes, it’s going to take some effort and obviously getting known is not something that can be accomplished overnight, but this is one marketing strategy where you’ll be amply rewarded for your efforts. And don’t forget, you can shortcut the process by hiring a publicist if you wish.