I’m going to give you some ideas on how you can stand out and make yourself heard even in an over-crowded market. Most “solopreneurs” (a coined word signifying one-man entrepreneurs) are selling something, an idea, a product, a service but then most of these solopreneurs never quite get beyond the point of selling and move into marketing on a much bigger scale. They keep on striving to make small sales and get by day to day. Some keep waiting and hoping for the big time job or contract which sometimes proves elusive and finally outlasts their patience and persistence possessed by small entrepreneurs.
It’s a crowded market with multinationals that have enormous marketing budgets, solopreneurs-with little startup capital, organizations with hugely successful brands and thriving entrepreneurs with seemingly bottomless pool of funds for PR. How does a “solopreneur” successfully sell himself in a dog eat dog business world with everyone fighting for every bit of the customer’s money?
We are going to point out some ways a solopreneur can stand out and make a difference. From experience I have learnt the following lessons
3 Key Lessons
• The customer’s perception of you is at least as important as what you are really like- always consider your personal image (haircut, business suit, shoes)
• Most people still and often will judge a book by its cover- includes your paper image (letterheads, business cards, brochures and website)
• Always consider the eye of the beholder and you can fool some of the people some of the time (appear the image of success)
Among youths in Nigeria there is slang or slogan called “washing”- there’s a thin line and slight differences between this phrase and what in business world is often called branding. The meaning in layman’s term implies creating an intrinsic emotional connection or perceived image on someone about a certain business or product. In the business world a brand may very well mean everything. It’s the differentiation between a software program that can be sold for millions of naira to a bank by a multinational corporation and another with the same functionalities that a startup solopreneur will find difficult selling for a couple of thousands of naira to the same bank irrespective of the fact that both software programs are identical. When such incident occurs as they very often do, you can say that the bank has been “washed” by the big corporation.
How does a solopreneur successfully “wash” or brand his/her self in today’s competitive market? Consider the following case study as a guide
Ruth decided that her event management company didn’t stand out in anyway from the competition and very well didn’t stand the chance of ever growing from a micro enterprise into a small or medium size enterprise.
Ruth decided to move from word of mouth referrals, personal selling and take a leap into the web and using up majority of her savings to advertise on social networks online such as FaceBook, Hi5 and the likes.
Two months after launching her business on the web complete with referrals, testimonials and pictures of her previous events, she was overwhelmed with phone calls from potential clients from across the country requesting her services.
Most times, solopreneurs tend to become bugged down by the tedious nature of their day to day activities that they remain focused on fishing in a small pond while there’s an ocean out there waiting to be explored. Ask yourself before considering the internet as a viable marketing alternative- Do you have the resources to pursue this strategy? What is the impact of your strategy on your kind of business? Would you be better off going into an internet only operation? Can you make yourself seem larger than life by the web content displayed on your website? How do you get clients to visit your website?
The internet represents a cheaper and often more viable means of advertising yourself. While big corporations have the budget to consider advertising on national dailies, television and billboards, a start up business or solopreneur is often left behind. The internet is and still remains an effective and cost-efficient strategy of being able to create an outlook and perceived value in the minds of clients about a business. Most often what they see when visiting your website determines what impression they have about your services without ever meeting you in person.
Alternative ways of making your business stand out especially when selling services (often less expensive strategy than selling products) may include getting trend-setters, industry leaders, or local celebrities to use your products free of charge. You can then leverage on this goodwill by asking for testimonials and subsequently mentioning such often high sounding names during sales presentations and adding them on your list of clients on your website or business proposal when bidding for a job. This could be all the “washing” you need to position yourself as being already successful and you may end up fooling some of the people some of the time.