I have always found that the best way to market myself is through relationships with other people. If you take the stance of “what can I do for you” rather than “what can I get out of this” it opens up new doors for you. By building friendships, sharing contacts and being very honest the world of business opens up to you.
In just over a year of starting my own company I have not has to use any of the traditional marketing pathways. By using social media to promote, helping others and by using networks such as Linked In and Twitter I have managed to create a presence which people associate with customer loyalty and a “can do” attitude. When I first started off I traded business for business and in this way by doing things for free I have had so much work back in to me and so many people remember me for this and it has been brilliant. When I first did this I was very skeptical but now I know that it works and those people that I have partnered have sold my business to others and I have sold theirs bringing in more work through this conduit.
My business has four aspects to it leadership and management/business, crowd management and security, event management and education. When I first started I expected to be doing certain things but as time has moved forward I seem to be doing more and more new things and less and less of what I thought that I was going to be doing. In the beginning of the business I could have started by putting together huge amounts of marketing materials for what I thought I was going to be involved with and would have made a big mistake. I now feel that for anyone starting a new business, unless it is very very specific you need time to build partnerships and networks to really find out if what you envisaged you would be doing is what you end up doing. For example I do a lot of work for the International Dance Teachers Association and major events in the UK, the US, Australia and Norway and I never imagined at the outset that I would be doing any of this, let alone helping them to deliver their businesses better.
One of the key elements that I have found helpful is to use all of the contacts built up over your entire business life as many of these come in useful. I started out as a bin man, worked in social services, managed sports center’s, became a rock promoter, went on to be the Pro vice Chancellor of a University and now run what I think, is a successful business. Utilising all of these areas and the contacts made in most of them has really enhanced what I do and I feel proud that I have never lost contact with my roots and am able to work with anyone and everyone from any walk of life or any size of business.
I really enjoy the variety of work, but you have to take chances and some of these are uncomfortable. Sometimes you work outside your comfort zone but you have to believe in yourself and make sure that others see that they are getting value out of your service. The main thing that I have learned is that I am always involved in education and that you never stop learning. Every seminar, I give, conference I chair, consultancy that I am involved in or major event that I work on I learn new things and use them to my advantage to gain more work. Always act now and make contacts quickly and stay in contact with those that you promise too. Sometimes such as with this blog it is difficult to find time to do them. However, I put the time in my diary and kept to it so that you make sure that you keep in contact with those that take an interest in what you do.
Many of the things that I thought would be easy to do have taken months to get off the ground and with any business you do not like to say no as you think people will not come back again. However, if you tell them that at the moment you are completely snowed under with work, they remember this and then contact you earlier in the cycle next time to make sure that they can get a piece of what you do.
So if you take something from this blog I hope that it will be three points. Firstly, partnerships are key to your business development and marketing. Secondly, take time to choose your marketing tools carefully and thirdly, don’t underestimate the power of targeted networking.
Finally, remember, once you start on your marketing strategy it is a full time occupation and if you leave it too long it loses efficiency and effectiveness. So just a small amount everyday keeps you up to date. I have been lax and guilty at not doing this but I know from experience that it is the right thing to do.
Professor Chris Kemp. CEO Mind over Matter Consultancy Limited