Let's start by saying "selling yourself" is very close to marketing. In this chapter we're not talking about sales, we're talking about "selling ourselves".
This isn’t to say that you should go sell golden unicorns (well...unless you have a few; then Allan and Steve might like a couple matching ones). There are hundreds of great web development companies, so why would people choose to work with you? Maybe you’re a copywriter, but what keeps clients referring their friends isn’t your vocabulary; it’s your sense of humor that carries over into your writing. Think about it: what makes you different besides the skill set you bring to the table?
Okay, we did mention that being different doesn’t necessarily mean being wacky or doing something offensive, but a lot of times, being different may be the one thing that helps you settle into your niche.
Realizing your angle is finding your unqiue value proposition. Once you’ve found it, then it’s time to start evaluating how you’re going to reach these people.
Say you’ve found an industry niche like car wash services. You need to look like an expert on making car wash websites. Here’s how. You need to have three or more projects in this industry under your belt. How do you get your name out there to get those first three projects? Start with trade magazines or industry news websites. The car wash industry has seven trade magazines. Write articles for as many trade magazines as you can. These articles will be free advertising to your target market, plus you’ll gain credibility as an expert. Once you’ve written the article, ask for or purchase the email address mailing list from the trade magazine. Use a service like Mailchimp.com to send emails to the list and don’t forget to cite your re- cent article in the trade magazine Voila! There’s your marketing plan with minimal expense.
Most business products, web apps, and web companies fail. Chances are... yours will too. Most consulting businesses fail after being around for a cou- ple years worth of having an established client base. They’ve been working hard delivering quality work for their first set of clients. The problem is, no one outside of these clients are talking about them and their work. They’ve failed to think about what’s going to happen once their current batch of projects ends. They’ve failed to market themselves in advance--before they needed to worry about starting. When you realize, “Hey, I need to market myself better,” it’s probably already too late.
Allan and Steve try to attend as many conferences as they can fit into their schedules. They are both super charming in person, and people will liter- ally beg for their friendship when they meet them. Okay that’s a lie, but it sounds good. For many people, it can be intimidating to attend a confer- ence and talk to strangers, but don’t worry--they’re nervous too. Often, making new contact and building a new relationship can be well-worth the cost of an entire trip.
The key is staying in-touch with people and developing friendships between the events. Staying in-touch can be done through email, Twitter, Facebook, and the old fashion telephone (a smartphone combines all of these methods--pretty smart, huh).
If your typical approach, while attending conferences or events, is to sit through the sessions and then pass up the parties and social aspects--in order to hang out alone in your hotel room--you’re doing it wrong. You’re absolutely wasting your time; stay home and stop spending your money. Conferences are only valuable if you can extend your network and meet new people. Just remember to be yourself.
All right, here’s the deal with “being yourself” and why it keeps coming up: let’s start by looking at professionalism. When you hear “professional,” you may think of suits, a clean-shaven face, fake smile, and small talk. If that’s the gauge for professional, Allan and Steve certainly aren’t profession- als. But really, all that means is that they aren’t focused on things that strip them of their own identity. If, on the other hand, you’re really into dressing nice and wearing suits, and you enjoy the feel of a good clean, fresh shave, that’s fine too. Tom Wolfe has a pretty solid identity.
Allan and Steve do things they enjoy and find value in, everything else doesn’t matter. They host a conference that they would like to attend, they’ve built an application they use, they’ve treated clients and custom- ers the way they want to be treated, and have written blog posts that they thought were interesting. They like the way they dress, the way they talk to friends, the tone of their emails, and the bite of their tweets. It all comes natural, pretending to be someone else is hard work.
This doesn’t mean they don’t second guess themselves. When they launched “Awesome Stache Club” for a conference they were attending, the little voice in their heads said, “this isn’t going to be funny and no one will grow a mustache.” Then they saw 30 people who had grown mustaches specifi- cally because of it. They like being silly and have realized that others like to be silly, too.
Allan’s email signature says, “Smiles, Allan.” It’s not professional, but it’s all him. One time, for an entire week, Allan returned his emails with “Greetings Earthling.” Again, not professional, but the recipients hopefully got a laugh. The login page on LessAccounting.com says, “Welcome back, we love you!” because the company really does love their users. It’s not professional, but about once a week someone ends up tweeting about it.
Swagger is aura; a projection. It’s something you give off. It’s not arrogance (though it can often be confused with it). It’s a sense of confidence, kind- ness, and charm that most people and (certainly) most companies do not have and cannot obtain. Having a swagger online and in person is even tougher. Swagger isn’t a divine gift, it’s a learned skill. If you’re able to give your company swagger, then your company stands a chance of making it. If you don’t know if your company has swagger, it probably doesn’t. If you don’t know how to build swagger, get ready to look like your competition and do things the way they do.
Go shake some hands, put out a blog article and tweet a link. Go do this today, because in a year, you’ll be out of business and asking me for a job, and to be frank with you, your work isn’t that great. (Bad joke) Seriously though, spend 20% of your week selling yourself and your company. One day, you could lose your current clients, the tide could change and you could be left high and dry. Don’t let that happen. Put yourself out there. Being awesome is long tail.
Business Tips From A Bank Robber
While playing the infamous bank robber, John Dillinger in the film Public Enemies, Johnny Depp delivers the line, “We’re having too good a time today. We ain’t thinking about tomorrow.” John Dillinger knew that one day he could be caught, and the good times might end, but he’s not quite interested in getting out just yet. He’s enjoying the ride. Nothing is broken, so why fix it? In this economy everyone is struggling, but there are plenty of talented people searching for everyday work. Why? They didn’t market themselves 6-24 months ago. These people got comfortable grinding out work and making money. The grind will cause you to forget what you came for. You should never stop marketing yourself.The full article Business Lessons from a Bank Robber
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