By Guest Blogger Mary Schmidt, Marketing Troubleshooter
I’m taking a brief segue from “marketing to women” to “marketing by women” as a complement to Lena's recent posts about women and technology...and what I think of as "power networking."
There are many terrific women dynamos, several of whom Yvonne talks about on this blog. Smart, savvy, assertive…never met a problem they didn’t see as an opportunity. However, in my experience working with start-ups and small businesses – women are often absolutely terrible at
gorilla guerrilla, git-'r-done marketing. They somehow think it's "not nice" to promote their businesses. The other extreme is when some nice lady expects me to give her business just because I'm a fellow woman. (I’m sorry. I’m sure you’re a nice lady, but I don’t buy makeup or vitamins that often anyway – and you’re at a dinner meeting with about 50 others wanting me to buy the same exact stuff for the same exact reason.)
Regardless of what you call it - "guerrilla," "grassroots" or "DIY" - successful marketing requires commitment and follow-through, in any size or type of business (vitamins to mega-bucks high tech). Here's my tough love list for my fellow femmes.
1. You have to speak up, sing out, stand up. Modesty does not become you. Certainly there is a huge difference between assertiveness and being obnoxiously aggressive, but if you don't promote your business, who will?
2. You can't put the business on hold. "Bob's mother was in town so I couldn't make it to the post office to mail those 1000 promotional post cards." Well, Bob's Mom may be happy, but now nobody knows about the promotion and you wasted your money on the postcards. (Of course, ol’ Bob is just as guilty in this case – he’s the other half of the business.)
3. You have to spend some money. Do-It-Yourself is all well and good but there are limits. For example, unless you're a graphic designer by trade, you really should hire one. Otherwise, your materials will end up looking exactly like what they are - home-made, on a shoestring, by someone who is still learning the template software.
4. "Dress" for the part. Lose the AOL email address (domains are cheap to buy.) Spend some serious money to attend high-profile conferences where you can really expand your network (with people you don’t know - not the ones you see at every other event, with whom you feel comfortable…and who never give you one jot of business or a single referral.) Don't go price shopping for "just a simple" web site. Even the simplest site should be professionally designed with a technical infrastructure that makes it easy to use, update and change - and that costs money. In today's Web World, people are going to be looking at you before they ever actually see you face-to-face.
If you're going to rent office space, make sure that it projects the right image. If your new clients have to step over drunks in the doorway, you're probably not going to keep those clients for long. Sure, the rent is cheap, but…
Literally dress for the part. When you meet with that "big deal” you can bet they're all looking at your hair, jewelry and shoes. (Even men do this, albeit mostly subconsciously.) Research has shown that a first impression is largely formed before you ever open your mouth. I dress completely different (including accessories) for - say - a business meeting in Manhattan than I do for one here in low-key Albuquerque. I also prepare different materials and use different messages…but that's another post, even a book.
One more thing: After all that hard marketing work - when you do get to the dealing table - ASK FOR THE BUSINESS! Nobody gives you anything.