Self-promotion doesn’t come naturally to most people. Humility is ingrained in us from a young age by our parents, sometimes to the extent that even too-bold expressions of confidence can be misconstrued as arrogance. Thinking too much of yourself offends some ill-defined sensibilities, and thus it’s tamped down from an early age, at least among a certain subset of society. And for women, there is often an added burden preventing self-promotion.
Starting your own business doesn’t permit you the luxury of performative humility. No one else is going to take on the task of promoting your company if you’re not willing to do it yourself, and so founders have to overcome their aversion to boasting and instead trumpet the accomplishments of their company and team.
How can we hope to get our message out in a crowded, noisy landscape? There are a few ways that we can go about singing our own praises to anyone who will listen.
Get on social media. There are plenty of people (ironically, on social media) who will tell you that social media is a dumpster fire, rife with misinformation, and given over to arguments with family members and people you used to know in high school. And they’re not wrong. However, like the internet as large, there are good and bad spots, and any platform still contains people using it in good faith for the intended purposes, including learning more about companies of interest.
Having a presence on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter in addition to LinkedIn is taken as a given at this point, even among those who are uneasy about the role the former may be playing in unraveling the fabric of American society. But for all those qualms, there’s no better way to reach the people who represent your potential customer base. Awareness alone isn’t enough; you have to make the case for what you have to offer, at least enough to get them to look further into who you are and what you do. And people aren’t interested in products or companies that are just ok — you have to let them know that you and your team have something great to offer but resist the temptation to only sell – remember first provide information to attract attention.
Go to events. Live, in-person events might seem like a relic of a bygone era at this point, but let us assume that at one point in the hopefully not-too-distant future the world may return to something similar to its previous state. Events may not be as efficient as other online marketing efforts, but the nature of face-to-face interaction allows you to break through the noise that may otherwise prevent your message from reaching people through the internet. No amount of targeted content can quite replicate the ability to ask and answer questions directly from someone, and there’s a lot to be said for putting a name and a face to a company and its product.
MORE FOR YOU
Events like a trade show also allow you to connect with the right people if you’re looking to partner with another company, and making the right connection can be worth the price of admission if it leads to something greater down the line. Remember partnerships are not made overnight but again, do not hesitate to self-promote your talents to potential partners.
Create videos. Along the lines of live events, what better way to pitch your product than to show rather than tell with a well-done video posted to your website or YouTube? None of us have much of an attention span anymore, and fewer still are willing to do all that much reading, so a well-crafted description of what you’re selling might not make the same impact as some eye-grabbing visuals. And that’s reasonable; there is almost nothing we buy in our own lives sight unseen, and as much as we’d like to think otherwise, we’re all susceptible to a convincing sales pitch.
Videos are an opportunity to tell people not only what your product does, but why it’s better than the other options available, as well as craft a narrative about your company and its mission. They’re not just buying a widget, they’re getting the best widget from a business that is dedicated to revolutionizing the widget industry. We as a species are endlessly fascinated by stories, so tell yours in a way that lets people know what you believe, plus how you listen to and what you aim to do for customers.
In placing yourself in the marketplace, you’re not just selling a product, you’re selling yourself and your company, and that means convincing others of your talents and abilities. People won’t likely buy from a company they’ve never heard of and know nothing about, so it’s on you to make sure that everyone in your space knows who you are and what you can do. You first have to believe in your own abilities before anyone else will. #onwards.