Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Can This Business Be Saved?

This article was written by Tory Johnson, in Success Magazine, November 2012, reprinted by permission

With 2012 about to end, one big regret has been expecting business to come to me instead of finding strategies to build awareness of what I offer. I’m committed to getting exposure, but if I can focus on only five things—and have a limited budget—what should I pursue?

I’m glad you are honest about analyzing what went wrong and are thinking now about how to dramatically improve results in the months ahead. Keep in mind, however, that planning alone won’t generate sales; only taking action will. I can give you tried-and-true ideas, but if you don’t execute effectively, none will work.

Getting your name “out there” won’t necessarily result in sales, but it brings your ideal prospects closer to you. Pursue opportunities in these areas to put yourself in front of your target market, which is different from being in front of just any warm body. Focusing will give you a greater bang for your buck.

1. Solicit media coverage.

Every week I feature small businesses on Good Morning America. If you have something perfect to pitch, let me know at SUCCESS.com/Tory. Otherwise, start by identifying local media outlets (print, radio, blogs and TV) that serve your target market. Study what they cover and connect with the reporters and producers who have the greatest interest in your topic. Craft a short pitch that’s not self-serving; your content must greatly benefit the audience more than it benefits you.

2. Enter contests.

Competitions, which exist in nearly every industry, offer extensive exposure—among other prizes—to the winners. An online search can help you identify contests that apply to you based on business type, geography, and even age or gender. You could receive priceless promotion as an active participant.

3. Host teleclasses.

Every couple of months I host a free 20-minute teleclass through FreeConferencing.com in which I offer advice on a specific small-business topic that showcases my style and expertise. I promote the call to my database and through social media.

During teleclasses I provide valuable tips and tricks, no strings attached, as an ideal way to stay connected to my followers and expand my reach. Some participants are impressed by what they hear, so they ask for ways to work with me. For more details on hosting a successful teleclass, search SUCCESS.com with keywords “Tory publicist.”

4. Pursue cross-promotions.

Think of the companies or organizations that share your target market—and reach out to them for cross-promotional opportunities. My Spark & Hustle programs are promoted by groups serving women entrepreneurs, including Make Mine a Million, Crave and Little Pink Book. Instead of viewing one another as competitors, we see the value in championing one another’s success. Reach out now to three groups in your line of work and discuss win-win cross-promotions. Don’t ignore organizations or companies that are significantly larger than you. If you have a solid pitch delivered with confidence, even the big guns will want to play ball because they also want to reach new prospects.

5. Secure speaking gigs.

When you speak authentically to an audience interested in your expertise, you have the opportunity to attract partnerships, referrals and sales. Find groups you can serve with your message, then deliver value that allows listeners to know, like and trust you, which is the first step in generating a sale.

You can identify potential gigs several ways. For instance, look at the websites of leaders in your field to see where they’ll be speaking and then reach out to organizers about becoming a speaker yourself. You also can do online searches to find industry associations and private conferences in your field; contact them to inquire about their speaker selection process. If you’re just starting out as a speaker, stick to more modest venues close to home. If parents of young kids are your target market, then you might contact elementary schools’ parent-teacher groups about presenting at a meeting.