Are you feeling stuck when it comes to promoting yourself and your business? If so, you are in good company. A recent study showed that women fall short of men in the area of self-promotion. While this study focused on women in corporate America, I believe the same is true for women in business for themselves. Self-promotion tends to get a bad rap, particularly from women. But what is at stake is the likelihood of building a sustainable business.
Here are seven myths and truths about self promotion, which I prefer to call "raising your profile." It is my intention that these myths and truths will expand your vision of your profile-raising activities and practices. I hope that these myths and truths stretch your vision of what is possible for you as an authentic promoter of your work and the results you bring to your clients and customers.
Myth #1: It's tacky to self-promote
Truth: Let me be blunt here: If you are not out there actively promoting your products and services, you are not changing as many lives as you could otherwise. It's really as simple as that. There is nothing tacky about helping others. By letting others know exactly how you can help them, you are providing a valuable service to them. You are not doing any favors to yourself or to others by remaining "the best kept secret" in your industry.
Myth #2: It's so hard to promote myself.
Truth: Having a plan of action to raise your profile is extremely empowering. Your plan gives you a sense of clear purpose, and every activity builds upon the next. Before you know it, you'll leave a long trail of success behind you! And the more you put yourself out there, the easier it becomes. Trust me, the thought of attending a networking meeting or speaking to a group of even ten people used to make me shake in my boots! If you work on changing your mindset around this myth, you can create a major breakthrough quickly. It's like Henry Ford said, "Whether you think you can or can't, you're right." So instead of saying things like, "I can't possibly speak in front of a group," say this, "Speaking is fun and easy." Say it until you believe it and then look for evidence that this is true in your life today. It's there if you look for it. And then start small. Speak for your cat or your mom. Then a group of 3 friends and then finally, a group of five ideal clients at a casual spot like a Panera community room. Then, you're on your way!
Myth #3: It takes a huge publicity budget and years upon years to raise my profile
Truth: Come on! You're more creative than that! There are loads of things that you can do to become more known to your ideal clients. Some do require an investment, which is fine because you have to invest in yourself if you are an entrepreneur, but some are free or low-cost. For example, here are just a few things that I have personally done in the past few months, and you can too: wrote a book and held a successful book launch party, created an introductory CD to give to potential clients, been featured on TV and in the newspaper, been quoted in yet another business book and had a new headshot done. I am here to tell you that you don't have to be a rocket scientist to create the image and high-level profile you desire. All you need is a plan and the moxie to implement it!
Myth #4: I need credentials first
Truth: Unless you are a doctor, dentist or other business owner that truly does need to be credentialed, the letters you desire after your name are not a requirement. You are enough. If you want to be certified in your profession, then absolutely go for it! But don't think you have to wait until someone crowns you as an expert before you get started. By in large, people don't care about the ABC's behind your name. They just want to know that you can solve their problem.
Myth #5: "Promoting" myself means "selling" myself, and selling is bad
Truth: If you don't sell anything, then you are not in business. You have a "pretend" business or an expensive hobby. If you do not sell, then you are not enriching lives through your programs and services. Can we agree that your work changes lives? And that others need to know about you? If so, then it's time to let go of this obsession with not wanting to sell. There is no shame in charging appropriately for the important results you help your clients and customers achieve.
Myth #6: The best way to raise my profile is by being on Oprah
Truth: Ok, being on Oprah is a dream for many of us, myself included. However, being on Oprah is not a marketing plan! And many, many successful people have never been and will never be on Oprah. In fact, the vast majority of business people fit into this category. I don't know about you, but I would be perfectly happy having a wildly successful business and never being on Oprah. Now, I'm not a dream squasher, so if this is truly important to you, create a plan and get training and other media experience so you will be ready when Harpo calls.
Myth #7: If I'm worth my salt, my ideal clients will automatically come without a lot of promotion
Truth: This is so false. People need to hear your message between 9 and 27 times before they even remember your name, let alone buy from you. What that means is that you need to reach out to your potential clients up to 27 times before they even recognize that they have heard of you! How do you reach out? Through self-promotion activities like post cards, your ezine, phone calls, speaking and so forth. Even people who are slightly interested in your products and services need to learn that you are the real deal. They need to be convinced that you are credible and can help them solve their problems.
If you are like the majority of people who struggle with self-promotion, I encourage you to write out ten answers this question. In other words, fill in the blank at least ten times, although I'm sure you could fill this in at least thirty times. Be as specific as you can:
The results that others receive from working with me include: _________________.
Now, take your 10 answers and add them to the end of this sentence:
By holding myself back and not promoting my services, I am not able to help others _____________.
By Meredith Liepelt
© 2011 Meredith Liepelt, Rich Life Marketing
Photography by Vladimir Mucibabic