On this episode, I had a conversation with Kathy Colaiacovo, a marketing strategist, president of Pepper It Marketing Services Inc., and host of the Marketing Your Private Practice with Kathy C podcast. Kathy shared her expertise on how an entrepreneur can communicate offerings effectively.
Here is the summary of our discussion.
Why should entrepreneurs even care about how to present their products or services? And does it matter?
As an entrepreneur, you're the business owner, you're the CEO, you wear all the hats. You do the sales, the marketing, the admin, and the bookkeeping. You may come to a point where you have some help with that, but ultimately, the ownership of the business and the success of the business is on you. And my theory with this usually comes out in one small quick sentence. If you're not going to be marketing your own services, your own products, who will do it for you?
As the business owner, it is your responsibility, and it is important that you look at different ways and you get out there and you start telling people about what you have. You know how your offerings help people solve a problem because most of us business owners have something that helps somebody with something. Doesn't matter if you have a product or a service. Whatever you offer does something for somebody and every business out there needs clients. It doesn't matter who you are. If you're in business, you're looking to sell something to someone. And so, if you want people to know about it, to know it's there, that means you've got to get out there and put it out in front of people. Because you can't assume and I'll be honest, a lot of folks think this happens, in particular, when they're starting. They put up a website and assume if you've got a website or maybe you have a social media page on Facebook, that people will just find you, but it doesn't work like that.
The movie “Field of Dreams” is an oldie but a goodie. Kevin Costner had this calling and this message that he needed to build this baseball field, this dream field, the field of dreams. And so, he did it. There was this line in the movie that was said all the time – “build it, and they will come”. And so, my advice is always this - Kevin Costner is the only one in the world who can build it and they will come. The rest of us have to do our marketing to get people to know us – except for real estate industry where they can build amazing houses and people will come to buy after.
A lot of people have that roadblock in their mind. And I think personally it's a mindset issue. When you look at how you position, how you tell people about what you do, that's where I think sometimes people get the feeling “oh, I don't want to be salesy or pushy”. And there's a bad image and a connotation out there with salespeople. You know, God love all the salespeople of the world, but it's a hard job and there's a lot of folks that would be like “I never want to go into sales”. But there are people that love it too. And the thing that you have to think about, and I talk about this a lot in particular, when I work with practice owners, you know, therapists, psychologists, clinicians, because their business is really helping people write, they're helping them heal, they're helping them with their health. And they have a real struggle sometimes with doing sales and marketing because it's absolutely opposite to how they want to be perceived with people.
But my theory with that is that the work you do with someone does help them but if they don't know that you offer this, they don't know that help is there. So, if you look at it, and look at marketing, your own services, your own products, your business as a way of just sharing information about how you help people with their problems, it comes across less salesy.
So, an entrepreneur should see it as letting people know about what they are offering that would help people as opposed to selling to people in that the way people look at it.
How can an entrepreneur go about marketing effectively?
One of the things that you have to look at when it comes to marketing your business and your products or your services is that some of what you want to put out there needs to showcase how you can help people. But if all you do is give them is tips and helping them and giving them advice, you're kind of missing part of the point of doing the marketing which is the sales aspect. So, you want to make sure that;
· you don't come across as everything that you put out online is “buy this” or “buy that”. You want to have some helpful tips to balance that. This is especially true if you are a smaller business and you're the owner and maybe the face of the business, the one that people see when they come in and into the business or if they work with you virtually.
· they get to know who you are because in this world that we live in, in particular with service-based businesses or small businesses, most of the time people are buying you. When they make their decision to buy, they're buying your expertise. They're buying your genuine personality, they're buying who you are, because you've made some sort of impression on them that you could help them.
So, I actually have a formula that I teach folks in my “Thrive Marketing Academy” on mixing up your content. And the way that I look at it is as you put out marketing content, think about putting out 10 pieces of content. So, I have this formula that goes 30% of your content should be business content, 30% should be sales and 40% should be what I call persona content. So that's really where people get to know a bit of you or the business. And I'll explain what those mean a little bit so that people can understand.
So, if we're looking at say dietician business, you know, a tip on nutrition they'll put out there, that's what I call a business piece of marketing content, because it's something they can learn from. It's something that showcases your expertise. And if you've done it the way that I recommend you put it out there, so it's got some of your brand on it. You know if you made an image, and you have some words to go with. So that's business content, it's more educational content. And it's meant to amplify your brand and your business with where you put it with your marketing.
The sales content is the stuff that you actually want someone to take an action. So this kind of content would be something like, you know, “we've got a sale on our ice cream cones this weekend, Saturday and Sunday 20% off, come on in the store”. So that would be one like for ice cream parlour. Or something like “I have a free guide you can grab. Click here to buy it or click here to sign up”. Or it could be “here's an ebook we offer that will help you. Click here to purchase your copy”. Now, those are all sales pieces of content because when you put them out in your marketing channels, whether it's in your email, whether you have it on a blog post or whether you have it in social media content, you want someone to take action, click and do whatever is on the other end.
And then the persona content is where people get to know you. So, sometimes part of this content might include the sales or business part of it. It shouldn't be all of it, but some of it should just be getting to know you. So in a case like a convenience store, for instance, it could be something like you have a picture of you as the owner and the team helping somebody in the store or someone comes in and has some amazing experience and you create a post about that. Or it could be something as simple as doing a video of the store. For example, something came in new and you're sharing it. So, those kinds of things help people get to know you, the business owner. They help people get to see you, they hear your voice if you do it on video, they see your face if you do it in an image because you've shared some of that. And honestly, that's the gold when it comes to marketing a business, especially a solopreneur like a small business where you're the face of the business because people get to know you.
So, with these three types - 30% business, 30% sales, and 40% persona, you can mix them up a little, but you should never have it like 90% sales because then all people hear is “click here”, “buy this”, “sign up” and it will get tiring.
So, what I tell people is go back to what you've put out on. For instance, go back to your Facebook page and look at the last 10 posts and think - Is it a business? Is it an educational piece? Is it a sales piece? How much of those do you have and then how much of the persona do you have? And literally look at the last 10 and check off. If you're out of balance, you might find that how you're doing your marketing isn't as effective as if you put it back in balance.
However, it will vary depending on the kind of organization you have. So, if you're a big corporation that may not work in the exact same way, but I think we're primarily talking to small business owners here. People that have their own business, doing their own marketing, wearing all the hats. When you're in that place in your business, most people when they make the decision to buy or to come to your store to sign up to work with you or to sign up to buy a program you offer, they're making that decision partly based on their belief and their trust in you as being able to be the person to help them solve these problems they have. So, if they never see you or they never hear your name, or they don't even know your name, that makes it very challenging for them to have that trust because they're not sure.
One of the things that I find a lot on marketing reviews when I do them on websites is this - I go to your website, and I can't see your name on the about page and a picture of you and kind of a little bit about you, that makes me wonder who you might be. For me, that’s a trigger that you want to make sure you change right away. This persona content that you can do in your marketing is the kind of stuff that helps support that entire feeling of “I know who this is”. This is crucial because people will do that. Potential customers will look at your website to check you out before they make a decision to buy or to go to your business or to call you, whatever it is.
So, you want to make sure that you have a mix of information on your website that when you have or see information on social media, that they understand that you are that person. If you have a business like a corner store, you're not necessarily going to have pictures of you and everything in what you do because what's more important is what you offer in the store. But as the business owner, the person who owns the store, the person who the people are coming in to talk to sometimes and just chat with, having some of you in the content that you put in your marketing just develops that relationship even more and builds that trust in what you offer and how you help them. People wouldn't be coming in your store just to chat and talk with you if they didn't feel good about sitting there and chatting and talking with you.
So, that’s where my concept of ACE your marketing content comes in. You Amplify it by putting the business content out there, getting your brand, your information out there. You Engage with people - you do that with the persona content, get them to know you. And finally, you Convert them into clients by having some of the sales content. So, amplify, convert and engage (ACE) is the goal of your content. And if you have that good mix of content that will help you do and accomplish that.
Is there a key take-away advice you would give an entrepreneur listening in today on marketing?
I would say the biggest piece of being successful at marketing your business is understanding the “why” behind what you're doing with the marketing activities. Because when you understand, you know what you're doing and the impact it can have and how it connects to all the different areas like your website, your social media, and the search engines. When you understand that relationship of the why, of what happens when you put content out there in the world, and when you do your marketing;
· you'll probably do less random acts of marketing. You'll be more strategic with what you're doing because you're putting it out there with a purpose.
· you're going to find you probably do less marketing and you’ll be getting more results. It means you're going to spend less time doing all that marketing.
In summary, marketing is the responsible thing to do. You want to mix your content to make sure you balance it. And if there's one takeaway, understand your Why. Don't just do things randomly. Have a purpose in mind.
Until the next episode, "Let's continue to learn together. And be encouraged to keep on connecting".
This blog is about personal development for entrepreneurs based on the principles of fairness, compassion, and commitment. This includes the practice of 'speaking' positive affirmations, which can be a powerful tool to support self-development. Hopefully, you’re impacted positively in some ways. As we all know, personal circumstances are quite different. So, I encourage you to apply the lessons in line with your own context. Do continue to “Hola” to connect with people and remember “Let's continue to learn together and be encouraged to keep on connecting”.