How do you “hang up a shingle” if you’re not a brick and mortar business?
Marketing a taco stand is, in a strictly hypothetical sense, simple. You find a place, set up your operation, and hang up a sign that says, “Tacos”. People get it, will likely try out your cuisine, and if they like it, tell their friends and probably yelp about it, too.
Marketing other businesses that don’t necessarily have such a simple message or a physical location upon which to hang their sign is a bit more complex. Marketing is a challenge that vexes most entrepreneurs throughout their careers and at all stages of business operations.
One recent participant in our Open House is, in fact, a green business coach. His challenge was that he’d tried to market himself in the most logical fashion–networking–and it has been fairly unproductive to this point. Networking is important to businesses of this sort–any marketing consultant will tell you that it’s not what you know but who you know. Why it doesn’t work for many people is that they think they’re not selling tacos. It’s a mentality that they need to change. So how do you hang out that shingle that says the equivalent of “Tacos”?
The key then, is to make the value of doing business with you crystal clear. You may be tempted to take work that is unrelated to your core competency, but it’s a slippery slope from there to being perceived as a generalist with no straightforward offering or expertise.
Hunger is the pain a taco cures. What is the customer’s pain that your services cure? Dummy it down and make it so obvious that your likely clients will get it immediately, and your conversion rate should improve.
Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride. Find Scott on Google Plus
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