Ok, so you’ve got a brand new business and you know it’s important to use your networks to get things off the ground. All the best business people say you’ve got to use your networks, right? Yes, but there’s an art to this! Do it wrong and you’ll find that you’ll end up annoying and alienating your friends and contacts and even turning them against your business – the last thing you want. So how can you engage in tasteful self-promotion?
You’ve probably experienced it yourself… a friend starts a new business and the next thing you know, that’s all they have to talk about. They’re badgering you on social media and constantly asking you to buy from them or share their posts. Ickky!
But you might also know people who’ve managed to promote their businesses tastefully – making everyone in their network aware of their business and building a strong base of active supporters.
So what’s the difference?
Self Promotion vs Self Adulation
Why does some self-promotion seem blatant, aggressive and a pompous show of self-adulation, while other types of promotion seem natural and genuine? Why do you find yourself wanting to see some contacts in your network succeed, whereas with others, you feel like rubbing their nose in it?
The difference is (largely) in the way they go about promoting themselves – and especially how much respect they show to you in the process.
4 Rules for Tasteful Self-Promotion
1) Know Your Target Market (hint: it’s not all of your friends)
If you’ve got your business up and running, hopefully you’ve defined your target market avatar (if not, do this now!). Be aware that not everyone in your personal network fits this description. In fact, there are probably only a handful of people that do. You might argue that they might know other people that fit, and that’s true… but the key thing is to spell out who your offer is for.
You might say: “if you’ve got children 6-10 years old and are working full-time, this could be of interest”. That way you’re showing your audience respect and letting them know that who should maybe pay attention.
To do this best, use separate accounts for your personal and business social media. This way, the people interested in your business can choose to follow along and get more information, but you won’t alienate the people that are not interested. Every now and again, you can use your personal account to remind people to check out your business accounts – but not all the time.
Be aware also that even the people that match the description of your target market are not all looking for your product at the moment. They might have other priorities or just be busy with daily life. Make them aware, but don’t pressure them to buy.
2) Remember the 80:20 Rule
I call this the “Give, Give, Give, Take” rule. Gary Vaynerchuk calls this the “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” method. Either way, the concept is that you need to give a lot more than you ask for in return.
So what does this mean in practise? It means giving lots of tips and advice for free. Sharing things that you genuinely think your audience will be interested in. You should be aiming to add as much value as you can.
And then, only every now and again, you post something that might directly benefit your business. (And even then, you do that in a way that keeps the other points in mind.)
3) Be Real and Be Humble
No-one likes to hear from someone who seems to always be congratulating themselves on their latest achievements. But that’s how it can sound if you’re constantly preaching about how great your product or service is and how well your business is doing.
Of course, you want to talk about your business in a positive light (otherwise no-one will buy from you!), but when you’re interacting with your own networks, you need to be authentic above everything else. (This relates to the Big Lie Entrepreneurs need to tell.)
So how do you do this? You need to tell stories about the struggles as well as the wins. Show the product in a good light but talk about the journey and all the issues behind the scenes. Ask for advice and share your struggles. Let your network feel that they’re on the entrepreneurial road with you.
Above all though, don’t be afraid to show some vulnerability. These are the stories that make upcoming businesses interesting.
4) Focus on a Greater Vision
All of the rules above are a lot easier to implement if you have a strong vision for your business (if you haven’t, create a vision statement now!).
Instead of focussing on growing your business, make everything you do and say be about helping your target market with a specific need or problem.
Stand for something and let your passion for that thing shine through in all of your communications. Remember, your business is just the vehicle for you to work towards your vision. When people get the sense that you’ve got a greater purpose (than just getting sales), they’re much more likely to respect and support you in your mission.
Have you noticed that some people’s self-promotion gets under your skin? I’d love to hear your thoughts so leave a comment below. (Or share this article so that your certain someone gets the message about tasteful self-promotion!)
Perfect, thanks Fiona. Thinking about this recently with promoting the new project on facebook, feeling embarrassed about it (not wanting to hear friends complain). In fact most are supportive if you don’t shove it down their throats.
Yep, and if you keep adding a lot of value without asking too much in return, I’m sure it will continue to be welcomed. Your articles and photos are always useful and inspiring!
Amy Hughes @ muscleMATTERS says
Excellent points, Fiona! I’ve been worried about overdoing the business promotion with my friends and family. While they want to be supportive, I also don’t want them to feel like they have to be. Thanks for this article.
Thanks Amy! As long as you’re adding value and not badgering them to take some type of action all the time, most people will be supportive 🙂