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Let’s face it, many service business professionals treat self-promotion as a necessary evil. We know we have to do it, but we just don’t like it. Professionals often say, “I love my work, but I wish I didn’t have to keep finding customers.” We describe the process of marketing as distasteful, frustrating, intimidating, and just plain scary.
Take a look at your own beliefs about self-promotion. How do you feel about it? Is it something you accomplish without too much effort, or do you put it off at every opportunity? When you tell someone what you do and ask for their business, is that easy for you, or do you find it difficult and unpleasant?
Achieving marketing success may require a real breakthrough because of how professionals often think of marketing. We see a wall that must be broken down, and until we can break through it, we are battering ourselves against it. We are “over here” and the customers are “over there”. We ask, “How can I FIND customers? How will I REACH them? How do I GET TO them?”
All of these questions imply that there is somewhere else to get to. The truth is that you and the customers live in the same reality. There is no you and them. There is only us.
Instead of trying to batter down the wall between us and the customers, we need to create another kind of breakthrough. We must achieve a shift in our beliefs that allows us to find the door in that wall through which we can effortlessly walk. We don’t need to invent the door — it’s already there. We need to open our eyes so that we can see it.
Everyone you know is either a customer or a referral source. Everyone. The world you live in is filled with business. In fact, business is what makes much of the world you live in exist. You don’t need to find customers — you know some already. To find more, whatever works for you in your personal life is what will work in your business.
If you meet friends through introductions, ask the people you know to introduce you to new customers. If you meet friends by sharing activities, join in activities that you and your customers both like. However your best personal relationships have started, that’s how your best business relationships will start.
Telling people what you do can be as natural as breathing. They ARE interested, you know. There’s no correct way of talking about your business. Just be you. That’s who people will want to do business with, not some artificial personality that you adopt to do your marketing.
A marketing conversation is just a conversation. You ask what they do, they ask what you do, and you look for something in common. If you both play tennis, you may make a date for a game. If you work in the same neighborhood, you may get together for coffee. If they need your service or you need theirs, the two of you may do business.
These three things are all the same thing — a continuation of a relationship that benefits you both.
The breakthrough is in realizing that you are IN your market, whatever it is. You are a human being whose business solves a problem experienced by other human beings. If what you do has value and you do it well, all that’s left is to tell them about it.
Welcome to the other side of the wall.
Wishing you many rewarding conversations,
C.J. Hayden, MCC