This is especially true for solopreneurs, or one-person small business operations, said Susan Urquhart-Brown, author of “The Accidental Entrepreneur: The 50 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Starting a Business and owner of www.careersteps123.com.
Visibility and Credibility
Having “visibility and credibility” can generate (free) referrals from other businesses and professionals and inquiries from potential customers, said Urquhart-Brown.
Moreover, visibility and credibility often snowball to more of them. Therefore, for new small businesses, gaining them could prove to be an extremely effective marketing strategy.
Urquhart-Brown recommended small business owners to join many organizations, such as the local chambers of commerce, trade groups, referral groups (such as BNI International) and others (e.g. women business groups). Just joining these organizations can raise small businesses’ visibility and help with other marketing efforts.
Screenshot taken from BNI International’s Web site
The next step is speaking and presentation at these organizations, said Urquhart-Brown.
Many of these organizations, especially those that meet frequently, are constantly in need of speakers.
To begin to establish their credibility as speakers, Urquhart-Brown recommended small business owners approach small, local organizations with topics they could speak about.
Once they gain more credibility as speakers, they will likely be invited to speak at larger venues.
Whenever small business owners speak at organizations, they should suggest other topics they can speak about at that same organization and ask if the organization knows of others who may want them to speak about the same topic, said Urquhart-Brown.
“You have to do the legwork and follow up is crucial,” she said.
A similar approach could be used to snag opportunities to write columns and articles for media publications; doing so raises small business owners’ visibility and credibility and might even snowball into a book deal.
“Today, customers go straight to the Web,” said Urquhart-Brown. Therefore, it is important have a strong online presence.
For many small business owners, it is a good idea to have Web sites, blogs, email newsletters and accounts on social media platforms.
Another tool to directly target potential customers online is offering free, useful webinars. At the end of these webinars, small businesses could then give participants special offers for their paid products or services.
Through these channels, they should provide expert information that solve problems for their potential customers, including, for example, case studies of how they solved problems for existing clients, said Urquhart-Brown.
As with winning speaking opportunities, small businesses should not shy away from doing the legwork of promoting their online content channels.
In fact, referring people they meet offline to their online content (i.e. saying “check out my Web site”) is an effective way of taking the new relationship to the next level.