When you’re just starting out your business (or even blog), it can get really terrifying. That feeling of knowing that you have to promote yourself because your next client, job, or order depended on it just makes you cringe! Sometimes you just wanna delete that tweet/ story/ post the second you release it to the world because it makes you uncomfortable. Well, do not delete that tweet/story/post because IT’S GONNA BE OKAY.
People are going to get over it.
Heck, they might forget about your post the next day or even minutes after they find a cute cat video to distract them! In cases like this, know that it’s because they are probably not your target audience. They’re not going to unfriend or unfollow you for one single post, BUT if they do, don’t feel bad too! Your target audience and potential clients will start to show and you’ll know them when you see them (AKA those gems who are constantly liking, sharing, engaging and even purchasing)!
Now that’s out of the way, let’s get on with some actionable tips to make you feel less anxious and afraid of marketing your biz! (That’s what you came here for anyway, right?)
After running multiple businesses myself and with my sisters, here’s a list of tips on how you can promote your business without feeling slime-y.
1. Believe in what you’re selling!
Over the past year, I had friends who asked me for advice after having their business/es fail. These were really good businesses and I don’t think it wasn’t something not worth looking at or even purchasing from. Can I just share: my friend wrote a self-help/development e-book while another friend made beautiful artsy postcards and stickers. A batchmate also recently set up a clothing business on Instagram. And while all of these sound exciting, I did notice they all had something in common. It was that they didn’t fully believe in what they were selling. I heard phrases like, “my book isn’t good enough to be sold…” or “the clothes I’ve been selling is the kinda the same with other shops.. ” and even, “Baka my style isn’t like the ones that they sell online.”
Here’s the thing.
If you don’t believe in what you’re selling, then girl, it really is hard to get clients/sales! Thus leading to you feeling hopeless and feeling like you’re not doing much to promote OR you just give up. I’ve been there too, but you see, if you believe in your product and the value this is going to give your audience, then it becomes easier to sell whatever you have to give.
I learned this because a few years back, one of my business with my sister was about to fail because we didn’t believe in what we tried to sell. Heck, we were embarrassed because people might not like it because it seemed childish – we were selling loomband keychains and toys btw. But finally, we realized that – hey, we didn’t invest our money and time this much only to see it go down the drain. So we took it upon ourselves to embrace OUR business. It wasn’t bad at all. In fact, it became so much easier to talk about and show off. People found it cute and well, you can say, that fast business (we call it this because we only meant for it to generate some side money) gave us 4-digits return for a 2-digit capital. Okay, I was exaggerating when I said we invested much money BUT it took us so much time to create these cute toys.
My point is (before I get lost) is that, if you first believe in your business, it becomes so much easier to sell. You have to be your first patron, your first fan, your first advocate.
Side tip: If you feel like your stuff isn’t good enough, I get it, try asking yourself then, “How can I make my stuff good enough?” You can improve whatever you’re trying to sell. But other than that – stop questioning yourself: YOU ARE MORE THAN GOOD ENOUGH. Believe it.
2. Stop trying to sell sell
Yup, that’s not a typo. Stop trying to sell sell. Every time someone calls meetings “sales meetings” or their products “products” straight to the face of the “customer”, I JUST CRINGE.
I remember this one time I was really interested in this program an organization was offering. I asked how can I sign up or what should I do if I wanted to know more about the program. They got back to me and asked, I quote the exact words, “Have you undergone a sales meeting already?”
Sales meeting….. me…. undergone… sales meeting??
At this point, I was like – oh, okay. So they want to sell me something? Why is it a sales meeting?
I definitely found it weird. AND as a person in the biz and partnerships, that to me was starting off at the wrong foot. Well, here’s a secret you should know if you want to make it in sales: people hate being sold to so stop calling everything sales. Not unless you’re talking to colleagues or your boss (because yes, they love that), maybe you should rethink putting SALES labels on everything you’ve been doing.
People hate being sold to because it sometimes feels like you need them to spend and purchase their product. I noticed that a lot of people really shy away or ignore the sales people when they see them and it’s because they know these people are really trying to sell sell.
There was this time I was walking in the mall and someone approached me. She was asking me for time to check out their product. Normally, I’d listen if it piques my interest but I was in a hurry and I knew I wasn’t interested. This girl kept following me and begged me just to sign my name and email just BECAUSE she needed proof that she talked to somebody. She really begged that I sign because she needed the “points”.
And while I’m a softie for these things, because I know what it feels like to be in sales and the rejection that comes with, it really annoyed me. I told her NO I won’t sign and I ended up walking faster than usual.
Don’t try to sell sell.
Because if you do, people could just buy your product without fully understanding it OR not really needing it and so they end up having a bad experience, which in return can affect your business or brand. You might have a sale now but there’s no guarantee for a sale in the future.
So what should I do?
- Just call *sales* meetings as meetings, meet-ups, discussions, dates (LOL), or engagements. Steer away from calling it sales or any transaction related meeting.
- Don’t call customers “customers”, BUT instead, make them your friends and even better, know their names!
- Because of all that focus in trying to close a sale, a lot of people tend to treat their customers like a sale and not like the people they are, which we all know, should not be the case 🙂
3. Be honest and establish relationships
This goes without saying, always be honest about your business. Never compromise or overpromise. At the same time, be sincere about your intentions. This way, you build trust and then build relationships.
Since people are most likely to buy if they personally know the person or people behind the biz, you have to put in a little extra effort in building relationships with your audience in case these are not warm contacts.
Warm contacts = A person with whom you have some personal connection and is willing to help you in your endeavor
- Use the 80/20 rule in posting about your business. Eighty percent should be about your business while twenty percent can focus on you or your personality. Don’t be afraid to show a little personality because this helps people relate with you more and know that there is a person too behind the business. Put a human face to it!
- When writing personal content, still keep it relevant to the business. Talk about the challenges you faced before your business came to be! This could be a good way to share how your business came to be. Whatever it is, share your story.
- Spin THAT content. Provide helpful tips related to your niche. For example, if you’re selling skincare products, talk about how they can take of their skin OR provide articles on morning and night skin routines. If you’re selling clothes, curate a guide on how mix and match pieces together OR the fashion trends for this month. Provide valuable content that will let them feel that you care and that you are providing a solution and not just there for the sales.
- Start engaging! Ask questions that interest your audience AND set a day or two just to comment and reply to them. Listen and reply as if you’re talking to a friend and make it meaningful as possible. Doing this will benefit your business in so many ways. Other people will start to notice how you value your audience and may follow you as well. At the same time, if your audience has a good experience or liked the interaction, most likely they’re going to tell their other friends about you (word of mouth). 🙂
You want to focus on building relationships with your audience because they are key to your business. More than your products, services, or offers, you want to build a long-term brand AND the only way to do so is to gain the trust of your market. Listen to and understand your customers, and then give them what they want!
But like I said, be honest and sincere about it for people know because it always shows. They know how to sniff out inauthentic brands and businesses – mind you.
4. Start with friendship
Let’s face it, your first customers will be your friends and it’s because they know you well and how you work or what you can provide. The good thing about this is that you can use this as SOCIAL PROOF, which you’re definitely gonna need to market your biz.
It doesn’t have to be too fancy or edited. It can be a simple post showing off your work. There are three ways I like to do this:
- Post about the project you’ve worked on for your friend. This is especially helpful for those in the creative business. Use a flatlay or any picture of the finished artwork or piece and simply put a caption, something like – “Had a blast working on this hand-drawn wedding invitation for (@insert friend’s name here)!” Make sure it’s okay with your friend and remember to tag him/her so you can also get that extra network and reach. You can also show Work-In-Progress or Behind-The-Scenes kind of post.
- Ask for feedback and testimonials. Ask about the experience or how your friend is enjoying (hopefully) your product and service. There’s something so powerful about someone else talking outside your business or brand.
- Repost their posts about your biz! Encourage your friends who’ve purchased your product and service to post and tag you or use your hashtag. That way, you’re maximizing their networks too and that their friends can know how to find you if they like what they see.
People often make the mistake of not posting social proof if their friends are the buyers. This is because we think that all these reviews and feedback have to come from a complete stranger or someone we don’t know to be considered a customer. But hey, if your friends avail your service or product, take advantage of it (because it’s also easier to ask) and use their experiences and testimonials as social proof to build your credibility and reach other people.
5. Just be yourself
Okay, a lot of people are afraid of putting themselves out there because they’re not used to promoting their biz (or anything) online – so they feel sales-y while doing it. But here’s my last tip for you:
DON’T BE AFRAID TO BE YOURSELF BECAUSE YOU ARE WHO YOU SAY YOU ARE.
By being yourself, you’re putting a personality to your business and brand that is unique and authentic. If you remember your favorite brands and businesses, chances are it’s because you resonate with them and that they have a distinguished voice to you. I, for one, can name some of my favorite brands because they’re funny and I like the way they carry themselves and I love the advocacies they are involved in.
If you focus too much on your products and services while forgetting to be yourself too, you become forgettable and not relatable to your target audience. But if you be yourself, you’re sure to win some fans over and they will remember (and might even love) you. You won’t see this right away as it takes forever to get gain the follower or fan in some people BUT keep being consistent. If they like what they see, they’ll come back for sure.
What if they don’t like me?
Then that’s not your problem. They’re not your target audience. Simple as that. 🙂
Also, doesn’t it feel great not having to copy/imitate this brand or business AND just to be yourself? I bet you that it does.
That concludes how to market your biz without feeling too sales-y while at it! Honestly, writing this article was a bit tricky for me. I had to keep it until here to make sure you’re still reading – and if you are, hey, you are awesome! I have so much to share and if you’re up for it, let’s talk! I really love talking and exchanging ideas about these kinds of things. While some of my friends have been convincing me to do a podcast, and I’m 50% thinking about it, I definitely want to stick here first and give out the best value that I can, one platform at a time 😉
That’s it from me! Oh, and if you found this useful (*long stares at you*), go and download these slides(?? – I don’t know what you call it) and get a free checklist too that will help you get started selling without really selling. You can click on the picture below or here!
Don’t forget to like, share this article, AND of course, leave a comment! It means the world to me when I know you found this useful, interesting… or whateva. 😉
Also, a question for you – HOW ELSE CAN WE MARKET OUR BIZ WITHOUT BEING TOO SALES-Y? Let me know in the comments below!
Now go dominate that thing (aka your biz),