Five Ways to Get Your Business Up and Running Again
Thursday, June 3, 2010
By Pattie Baker
A couple I know recently moved back to my city from abroad and the wife is trying to build up her consulting business again. Having been gone for several years, she discovered her network is splintered and her social marketing skills are not exactly up to date. She called me for some advice. I made some suggestions to her that you may find helpful as well:
- Decide on your focus. This sounds basic, but I can’t tell you how many people simply can’t answer these questions: “What is your goal, and what is it that you have to offer customers?”
- Tap into the industry. Read online industry publications. Follow industry thought-leaders on Twitter. Connect with others. Upload you resume on LinkedIn and invite your connections to link to you (this is a good opportunity to start figuring out how these social networking sites work!)
- Attend events, conferences, and workshops related to your industry as well as to your desired customer base. Mingle with people, do more listening than talking, and maybe you’ll be able to meet people like you who offer similar or complementary services—you could serve as an “overflow” resource for other businesses like yours, and a partner for those that offer services that align with yours.
- Get listed on Kudzu. Take a look at other service providers who do what you do, and see if and how they are listed on Kudzu. Check out their reviews and you can tell pretty quickly if Kudzu is giving their business some traction. If it is, jump in.
- Start a blog. Now, I know everyone is doing that, and the majority of them are then abandoning their blogs just as quickly (or just letting them hang out there in cyberspace with two or three posts on them). You don’t want to do that. Another mistake I see is business owners simply posting their chest-beating accomplishments and other heavily promotional information. Who on earth wants to read that?
Think of your blog more as a conversation with your customers (and potential customers) and an opportunity to showcase the expertise that you offer as a consultant. No matter what type of business services you offer, tell real-life honest stories about your work day (keeping the spin positive), while humbly highlighting the traits that differentiate your company. Give seasonal tips and other timely information of real value. Thank people—your customers, of course, but also the supplier who made sure you got that product part in time and the stranger who helped you unload your truck when you he saw you were in a pickle. Most importantly, showcase what you do, and how you do it better than the competition.
Here’s a company that’s doing a bang-up job with its blog (lots of truly useful advice!). Frankly, I think it has one of the best small-biz websites I’ve seen—professionally done, organized in an intuitive fashion, uses a variety of tools for connecting easily with customers, and manages to let its unique personality sparkle.