Ideas and tips for nurturing a startup business, maximising exposure and attracting new clients
2 Years Ago in Advice for Startups
This is one of the most frequently asked questions on business groups in Facebook and LinkedIn.
In 20 years' of working with new and startup business, we've noticed 3 activities that correlate with strong business growth:
This is purely observational and anecdotal - we haven't done any hard science.
But it does fit well with our recent informal research: "What makes you trust one company over another?"
As social animals, we tend to remember and recommend people, not companies. So one of the best ways to grow your business is to polish your people skills and get socialising.
You need as many people as possible to know exactly what you do, and why you're bloody good at it.
So don't hold back in your social life. Aim to meet as many new people as possible. Don't be afraid to introduce yourself: "I'm Martin, I do advanced web development". Find ways to drop your work into the conversation without being a bore.
Speak about your work with as much genuine passion as you can muster. Drop in tales about times you've excelled or done a particularly good job.
It's helpful to have a strong portfolio online, then you can look for reasons to show them your Facebook page or Instagram profile. One sneaky trick is to ask them what a particular photo looks like on their phone? Let them flick through your work to find the right photograph.
As a bonus, your profile will be in their browser history. They might well leave it open and be reminded of you later. Or it might pop up when they're searching for something else and they'll be reminded of you. And if they ever do actively look for you, you'll be much easier to find.
An Elevator Pitch is a simple and brief business description used when networking or meeting potential business partners. Mine is something like this:
"We're a one-stop web agency who provide professional web services at a reasonable price. If we build your website, we aim to make it one of the best in your industry"
A Social Elevator Pitch is similar, but phrased in an informal way that you could comfortably drop into a conversation. For example, mine might be:
"We do websites, databases, graphics, copywriting and stuff. Basically, everything it takes to make our clients's sites one of the best out there."
Find amusing and memorable anecdotes to tell about your work life. Look for opportunities to help them out with your advice and expertise. Offer them 15 minutes of professional advice - give them your card and tell them to give you call.
A word of warning about amusing anecdotes - NEVER make fun of your clients. Just don't. You may be remembered, just not in a way that will win you any business.
Another way to become more memorable is to work on your people skills. Find something about a person that you can compliment, and do it. We always remember people who compliment us! The more genuine you can make it the better. The same goes for showing interest in a person. It is human nature. If we feel people are interested in us, then we in turn find them to be interesting people. So by complimenting, asking questions and encouraging a person to talk about themselves, we make ourselves more memorable.
As social animals, people LOVE to make and receive recommendations. It feeds a myriad of primitive psycho-social needs such as status, influence, social signalling, the desire to make a difference, hunter-gatherer and so on.
See how those "Recommendations" posts on Facebook get so many responses? You might be surprised at just how keen people are to recommend you when the opportunity arises.
So how do you get people to recommend you?
The more people like you, as a person, the more they'll recommend you. It may not be fair, or reflect on your ability to do a good job, but it's true nonetheless.
So be a good sport. Speak well of people, especially your clients. Speak about them fondly and whatever you do, never mock them or take the mickey. There is nothing that repels new clients as fast as this "technique".
Its vitally important that people are confident in your ability to deliver! Because they will look as bad as you if you do a terrible job, or leave it half done.
So old friends or new, drop in anecdotes about how pleased your clients have been, how you've helped them out of a spot, or saved them money or whatever.
It's also a good ideal to...
If you make jewlery, you might want to take a picture or two of every piece that you make. If you do hair, get pictures of you performing the cut or dye, and also the finished product. Get screenshots of your web based work.
If you're new, bang as many as possible on social media, even if you don't feel it's your best work. By all means pin your favourites to the top, but go for quantity over quality, particularly in the early stages.
While many freelancers balk at the thought of doing work for free, this Machiavellian strategy can be good for a startup:
Even though some are cynical about online reviews, nobody can deny 20 five star ratings will help you win over prospective clients.
Always ask customers and clients to review you. Make a persuasive request part of your business process. Make it easy for them. Send them direct links to the review page.
If you're not confident that they will give you a 5* review, you can call them up first. No need to beat around the bush. Ask them how many stars they would give you. If the answer isn't 5, then follow up by asking them what WOULD make it 5.
You can even call them up and ask them verbally what they liked. "Would you mind putting something to that effect on Facebook? It would really help me out... ". You could even offer to write it for them, using their own words.
Getting clients to leave you glowing reviews is something of a dark art. We are going to ask business owners on Facebook for their tips and ideas, and post it as a follow up article. Stay tuned.
My name is Martin and I've been your host for this article.
I am by no means a strong writer, but I hope you found it of value.
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