To do anything truly great, you must do great things, and then tell everyone about it. This is where most people get stuck. They work hard, develop something great, and work every day to perfect their creation. The problem is, it’s often hard to let people know what you’re doing. It is hard to put yourself out there and shout from the rooftops about what you are doing and what you have created. Even if you have told some people, it might feel like you are screaming into the void, no one is hearing you. Getting the word out is tricky, but there is a way to do it. For my primary clients, local small business owners, there are some things you can do to build a reputation and to become well known. There is a strength to being well-known. It might make you uncomfortable doing some of these things, but as the great Steve Harvey says, “You have to get comfortable, being uncomfortable!” If you stay in your bubble and don’t tell people about your creation, you are not going to be successful. I am going to tell you step-by-step how to get out of your bubble. How to get out in the world to get the attention you deserve. The better you become at this process the more success you will find. You can have a great impact on the world with the work you do, but only if people know that you do it because there are compelling reasons why they should trust YOU to do it for them.
Step 1: Do Good Work!
Dan Kennedy says, “Good is good enough, next!” Too many perfectionists make the mistake of thinking that they are going to get their product or service perfect before putting it into the world, and asking money for it. This is a major success blocker. Don’t get me wrong, you must make something GOOD! But good is good enough to start. Get it good, and then get it out there. Once you receive feedback, you can adjust and improve. When we first launched our magazines, we had a great designer and I had sold advertising in a different magazine, but we didn’t have a background in publishing magazines…yet. We pushed forward and published our first issue. Melissa and I were literally scared to death. I remember we were physically shaking when we wrote the check to pay for the printing and postage in order to send our first issue to nearly 12,000 homes. Melissa nearly had a nervous breakdown. She was so worried because she had never put herself out there like that. Today, we kind of feel like Juni and Carmen in the second Spy Kids movie. It was thoroughly scary when we first jumped off that cliff, but now that we’ve been falling for a long time it isn’t as scary.
SPY KIDS FALLING AND FALLING
We made plenty of errors in that magazine and countless since, but now, the overwhelming feedback is, “Wow, these are so professional, you must have a background in publishing.” We don’t, but we followed one of my favorite mantras; “FEEL THE FEAR, AND DO IT ANYWAY!” It doesn’t matter what type of business you’re in, plumber, accountant, restaurant, retail, or construction, but you first need to create something good or be good at your trade. Not perfect! Good is good enough.
Step 2: Become an Authority (Expert)
When I first started putting myself out there as a marketing expert, the negative voice in the back of my head was constantly saying, you don’t know enough to be an expert. You should add years of additional study before claiming any sort of expertise. I was able to realize I didn’t need to be perfect or be the best in the world, I just needed to have some mastery of my subject. When I need electrical work done, I talk to my friends or a trusted professional. They might not know everything, but they know so much more than I do. If I need help with a car problem, again, friends or experts are the authority I turn to. To be an expert, you need to have above average understanding of your subject matter. I have loved learning and studying marketing over the years. I read books and blogs, I watch YouTube videos, and listen to podcasts. I attend conferences. I spend my free time, (not all of it), learning about my trade. I have for most of my life. If you know your WHY, you will feel that way about your industry. If you don’t feel that way, consider doing something else. I noticed even though I still have so much more to learn about advertising small businesses, people are turning to me for guidance about their advertising. They ask me questions. I don’t know everything, but I know enough. I still study, and I still learn, and I am now the electrician in my field. I know more than the average person.
Step 3. Yell it From the Rooftops
Now that you’ve accepted your role as a leading authority, it’s time to tell people about it. Last year when we made the decision to pivot our publishing business into a full-fledged marketing firm, we had to get the word out. In the marketing world, we were known as print marketers. We made magazines. We didn’t do marketing. Some of my clients knew I had a knack for marketing and often came to me for advice, but we hadn’t established ourselves as experts in the field. Simultaneously, I launched a business with my son, Koby. We bought a Roof Maxx dealership that he runs. I do all of his marketing and we have had great success right from the beginning. I remember looking at the growing success of that business and the marketing I was doing, and thinking, I should help my clients do stuff like this. That thought led me to make the decision to change Connection Publishing into Connection Media Co., and to become a marketing firm dedicated to helping local small businesses thrive with powerful marketing. In order to let people know that we were changing, I started making the rounds to all the networking meetings I could find. I also started a YouTube channel and began teaching micro-lessons on marketing. I also started my podcast and started interviewing my clients who were successful local business owners. I started volunteering to speak at local chambers of commerce. I even started taking paid speaking gigs. I also put on local free seminars detailing tips for local business owners on how to better market their companies. I continued to work on tools people can use to market their companies better, easier, and more effectively. We advertise these things in our publications, on social media, and I write this blog in order to better perform on search engines. This all started about 10 months ago, and it continues today. We are yelling from the rooftops, letting everyone know what we do, and how we do it. What’s interesting now is the number of people coming to me saying things like,” You’re a marketing guy, can you help me with this?” or “You’re a marketing guru, what do you think about this?” “You should call Ryan, he is good at marketing!” These types of comments never happened before. I got calls from writers and graphic designers because I was the magazine guy. I didn’t get calls from people wanting info on marketing. Even though it was a skill I already developed, no one knew about it. This is an uncomfortable position. Constantly talking about myself and pushing for the attention I need to sell our products, and to be seen as an authority, is uncomfortable. I am actually an introvert by nature. But I have worked my whole career in out-reaching types of sales positions. I force myself to go out and meet new people, make friends, and make sales. I am comfortable with it now, but I still wish I could hide in the background instead of being the center of attention. However, I don’t think you can do great things unless you reach many people. You can’t reach many people if you don’t master your skills, and then tell everyone about them. This is the essence of marketing. You can use masterful marketing to sell sub-par products, but when you master both your product and your marketing, you can change the world.
Step 4: Get Better Over Time
The final step is to be in a state of constant improvement. Just like in my Strategic 5-Step Marketing plan, the final step is to analyze and adjust your advertising, your business should do the same. Find ways to better serve your WHO. Continue your education, and continue to interact with people who are more expert than you. Give yourself the opportunity to improve and expand your expertise, and then continue to tell everyone about it. Fresh energy is crucial in all parts of your business. Your website will be dinged by Google if you don’t consistently add new content because no one wants to read a story from 2015 about how to fix your clogged drain when there is one from 2023. Errors and mistakes are great ways to learn what you need to improve. Bottlenecks are also a great way to improve efficiency. We are starting a new process at Connection Media Co. where we have a bottleneck check in our leaders meeting. This gives us a chance to decide what changes need to be made to our processes, so we can operate at peak efficiency. We also have a monthly brainstorming session where we talk about our Creative for the coming months. We open it to all of our writers and designers to gather ideas, so we can make awesome products. Come up with a system to constantly improve. As you improve, you will further establish yourself as an authority in your industry. You can make a huge difference in your business by getting uncomfortable, even if you’re a community bakery or gourmet pop shop.
Here are some ideas on how to get in the un-comfort zone:
Attend Networking Events: Attending local business networking events might feel uncomfortable, but they offer great opportunities to meet potential clients, collaborators, and possibly mentors. See your local chamber of commerce, and search online for networking events. Go with the attitude that you will meet at least 1 new person.
Master Public Speaking: Speaking engagements can position a business owner as an expert in their field. Even if public speaking isn't your forte, it's a skill worth developing. Most networking groups allow members a 10-minute presentation once a quarter. Start here, and do more as your skills improve.
Establish Online Presence: Start recording yourself doing your work. Live streaming or creating video content can be intimidating. However, it's a powerful way to connect with a larger audience. You can’t get better until you start somewhere. Create a video, and then do another. Just take baby steps. The more videos you put out there, the more attention you will get.
Try New Marketing Channels: If you have done the same thing for years and years, it might be time for a change. What are your competitors doing? What can you do to get more attention?
Ask for Referrals: Seeking referrals from satisfied clients can be uncomfortable, but it's a great barometer for how your clients feel about you. Some won't think to refer you until you ask them, so go for it.
Update Business Strategies: Embracing change, even if it means overhauling existing strategies, is crucial for staying competitive. Businesses sometimes have to pivot to succeed. We have had to do so, and you might need to as well. Watch the market, see what’s happening, and make those changes.
Write a Book, Create a Useful Tool, and Give Value for Free: Establishing authority takes time and effort. Take baby steps, one by one over time. Make content and get better as you go. Here is a link to my most recent book: GET ATTENTION: The Small Business Marketing Handbook.
Seek Customer Feedback: Actively seeking feedback and reviews, even when they're not positive, can help improve products and services while building credibility. Learn from the negative, but tell everyone about the positives.
Ready, Fire, Aim. Do something good, send it out, get better as you go. Don’t wait for the perfect aim, product, or service. Jump off that cliff. Build wings as you fall, put yourself out there, and learn how to “win friends and influence people”. Most of all, get comfortable being uncomfortable. Learn to live in the Un-comfort Zone, and remember, Good is Good Enough…next.