The central component for a start-up business, small business, independent contractor, or solo practitioner to be able to master to succeed is marketing your unique message. This is much easier stated than actually executed because of all “the noise” that is present today.
The social media alerts, the networking updates from LinkedIn, texts, “tweets”, and Instagram feeds make it very difficult to differentiate your message from the sea of posts popping up literally every second.
The past five years, while working on messaging as a freelance writer and then in the past 14 months as a Certified Professional Coach, I have learned in a “trial by fire” type of way about messaging. It takes time, patience, constant energy and true thoughtfulness to make it all work.
The best way to build and share that message is to connect in an honest and authentic way. It starts by networking within small groups on social media in a very organic way. That communication and sharing could lead you to start an email list with a newsletter or a link to your blog, or YouTube/ Facebook Live type of posts.
The interaction on social media has shifted from text based to video based messaging, especially over the past six months, which can make your unique central message stand out or get overlooked by an audience that seeks something else.
The most important aspect for the individual business owner or independent contractor to keep in mind is that you are not going to reach everyone. You are not going to be “all things to all people”, and a quick fact here: you do not want to be. The objective should be to have an idea of your target audience: who do you want to reach?
The next step is obviously: how are you going to reach them? You are not going to join a Facebook group for middle aged men if your target audience is 22 – 25-year-old new entrants into the workforce. The key is to find direct avenues to where that audience spends time: Instagram, a YouTube channel, or hosting a Facebook Live event.
The communication that you have with your target audience should be more about teaching than selling. A good general rule of thumb is that people are skeptical of everything and do not like being “sold something”. The more viable pathway is to provide a message that teaches, helps, or inspires your target audience.
The goal of clear communication of your message should provide direct and concrete ways that the other party can benefit from the interaction or from your business services.
In this age of social media updates when somebody eats a cheeseburger, or publishes a book, or takes a vacation. It has invariably become very self-focused, very individualized.
It is in this light that this next point is very important: beware of self-promotion. The social media/online profile of some people I have worked with in the past has had tendencies to go toward the self-promotion route. It is a dangerous point to which there is no going back.
The end result once you get labeled as a self-promoter is very detrimental to your business or your practice, or whatever you are trying to achieve. That does not “play well” with people. It can alienate you from developing a base of followers or a target audience of potential clients.
It is far more positive to share news about your business or your practice by remaining humble and coming from a place of gratitude. This is not only the right way to conduct yourself, but it also helps to foster better and more genuine connections to others in your network.
That ties into my final point on this topic, and that is to build trust and rapport with your target audience. This is done over a period of time. It is done through direct and authentic communication. The old principle that we all learned in Kindergarten: be yourself.
In my experience, going into an interaction with a group of potential clients/customers I have had far more success when I “showed up” as myself. In the instances when I felt like I was not going to get a contract or a writing assignment unless I had different experience, those situations never worked out well.
I have had interactions with people where I went years without asking them for anything. In this way, I built a true relationship and trust with them, and they were far more willing to help me in those situations.
I have learned from those experiences and I resist that sometimes natural human instinct to “go for it” by returning to the person that I am, and presenting my talents and skills: what I can “bring to the table”. In the event that is not enough, well it was not meant to be, and the focus shifts to who I can help and who I can work with in a positive way.
In summary, the best way to communicate a marketing message through “the noise” is to find out where your target audience spends their time to reach them effectively, being okay with the fact that you cannot be “all things to all people”, be clear by getting to the point, teach versus selling something, and build trust with your target audience. I hope that this advice helps you to build your own personal brand and market your message accordingly to reach people in a positive way.