Running a business is challenging, especially if you feel uncomfortable with self-promotion. You need to complete sales in order for your business to survive, but the idea of going to yet another networking event leaves you feeling ill rather than invigorated. In-person events and other sales tactics are important, and it’s impossible to avoid them completely if you want your business to succeed.
If you’re one of the many people who shudder a the thought of self-promotion, however, here are some tips to help you sell more while promoting less.
Use social media
Social media is a gift for introverts and people who might feel uncomfortable with self-promotion. While networking events are important, social media allows you to make connections with clients and collaborators from your computer. You have time to think when responding to messages, and can interact with others without having to push yourself too far outside your comfort zone.
In the screenshot above, we can see different businesses and professionals using Twitter for different purposes. Fast Company use the social media site to disseminate their articles, Cathy Presland is using it to encourage people to share her work, Lori Fields is promoting other people’s Twitter accounts to encourage her followers to follow them too, and Rachel W. Cole is using Twitter to spread word of her latest promotion.
Build key relationships
Whether you do it through social media, through networking events or through any other method, building key relationships with other people in your field or related fields can help reduce the amount of selling you have to do yourself. By making strategic contacts, you potentially create a network of people who will sell for you. When building contacts online, create a list of three or four people you want to get to know first. Start reading and commenting on their blog, support them online by sharing and re-tweeting their links, take their courses or buy their products, and, most importantly, contact them to introduce yourself. You don’t have to explicitly sell to these people, rather think of them as allies, who could prove useful in the future.
Chris Guillebeau has over 74,000 followers. While he might share some of Danielle LaPorte’s 29,000 followers, he is exposing Danielle’s work to more than twice as many people as she can currently access. By fostering a relationship with Chris, a key figure in a related professional field, Danielle has exposed her work to tens of thousands more people in a single tweet.
Identify your clients
Somewhere, there are a group of potential clients who want to buy from you – they just don’t realize it yet. Identifying your ideal client will help you tailor your promotional efforts to the people who are most likely to transition from readers or followers to buyers. If you can describe your ideal buyer, you’re more likely to produce content tailored for them, and therefore more likely to get sales. You might be able to convince people who don’t fit the description of your target client to purchase your product or service. This, however, will take more persuasion, and more persuasion means more marketing. Stick to the people who already want to buy from you, and keep your promotional efforts efficient and rewarding.
“Goddess” Leonie Dawson runs a popular women’s website and, with this product, tapped into an issue that affects many women. By creating a product that many of her readership already wanted, she immediately cut down the amount of hard selling she wold have to do to promote the product.
She further identified her ideal client for this particular product by identifying specific physical symptoms this client might have (anxiety, indigestion, etc.), plus goals and aspirations they would like to achieve in the future (shed extra weight).
Using this kind of copy, her target audience might read the section below, feel understood, see a solution to their problems, and already be halfway, if not committed, to buying.
If the idea of writing a promotional email or blog post sends a shiver down your spine, try shifting the focus of the content. Prioritize helping your readers over selling to them, and create writing that offers value. Whether you’re answering common client questions or tackling a problem that affects your client base, creating content that provides value will engender your readers’ trust, making them more likely to make the step from reader to client in the future. If you don’t have a blog, or don’t feel comfortable writing, consider running an event. This could be a free webinar, a physical group meeting, or similar. If it’s informative to customers, you’ll have an opportunity to let them know about your latest product or service without having to sell.
Laura Roeder is a social media expert, who charges for her services and courses, but frequently holds free webinars that provide helpful tips to listeners. These webinars serve a double purpose: they provide potential clients and customers with actionable tips that they can use to grow their business online, while giving her audience a taste of what it would be like to work with her in a professional capacity.
Let other people do the talking for you
Testimonials from previous clients are just as valuable as adverts and sales pages, if not more so. If you’re releasing a new product or service, provide a certain number of people with a free version in return for a testimonial. Testimonials can help show potential buyers that other people have had similar problems or issues, and that your product or service has helped. Potential buyers expect you to rave about your business, however if the praise comes from a third party, it adds more credibility to the product or service you’re selling.
Online marketing maven Danielle La Porte has a section on her website called “Rave Reviews”, which is dedicated to client testimonials. As well as including a list of 16 reviews from prominent online entrepreneurs, she has posted a separate list of reviews specifically about her new book. Not only does Danielle let the reviews do the selling for her, but she advertises her products and services down the right-hand side toolbar, so as readers scan the positive reviews, they also see her products beside them.
Another way to build your reputation is to offer customer service that exceeds expectations. Ask clients for feedback, send them offers, and stay in touch. When customers feel cared for, they’re far more likely to recommend your business to other people, and your word-of-mouth reputation is paramount.
Offer a good deal
When you present potential clients with a product or service that offers amazing value, the deal will do most of the selling for you. When buyers can see that something that offers unbelievable value, they’re already moving towards a sale. Good value isn’t about under-pricing items or services, it’s about offering a deal that is hard to refuse.
A key part of this deal that makes purchasing a product a no-brainer decision for consumers is security. Providing a money-back guarantee demonstrates that you have confidence in the quality of your product, and it decreases the amount of risk the client is undertaking. Even if you’re not a natural copywriter, presenting your goods in a way that removes as many objections on the part of the customer as possible will help raise your sales, no promotion involved.
When Chris Guillebeau launched his book, ‘The $100 Startup’, his goal was to sell 10,000 copies in pre-sales alone. To do this, he incentivized people to buy more than one book at a time by offering bonus products as a reward. For a limited time, you could pre-order three books at once, and get a free online class; pre-order 10, and you would get two online classes, plus one of Chris’ existing products. Chris offered incentive packages for up to 1,000 books, and while his readers might not have bought three, 10, 50, or 100 books on their own, the additional goodies thrown in with the book packages made the extra investment worthwhile.