Is Marketing “Stage Fright” Stifling Your Business? 10 Steps to Overcoming Business “Stage Fright”

Public speaking—appearing before an audience—is one of the greatest fears people have.  Most of us have the feeling, at times, that we are “faking it”—that we may be unmasked, or have it revealed that we are not as competent as we represent ourselves to be (regardless of our actual competence).  It evokes the image of the Wizard in the “Wizard of Oz”—“pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” This “performance anxiety” causes us to wish we could avoid the attention in the first place.

The idea of “putting yourself on display” before the public is uncomfortable, to say the least. By extension, for many small businesses owners, the idea of putting their business “on display” is no less frightening. After all, they, the owners, are their business—especially those entrepreneurs who provide personal services.

It is no surprise, then, that small business owners often struggle when it comes to developing and executing a marketing program for their businesses. We refer to this as marketing and social media “stage fright.”

To market your business is to put your business and, by extension, yourself in the limelight, to put your competence to the test. Entrepreneurs are left with a paradox—she wants sales but doesn’t want to market or sell “herself.”

Along with notoriety and interest comes scrutiny and potential criticism. This is particularly true in the world of social media. The fear of scrutiny and criticism, coupled with the ease with which scrutiny and criticism may be dispensed in social media, undergirds the “stage fright” associated with resistance to an entrepreneur’s marketing efforts. Like stage fright for a performer, the business person may well experience similar physical effects when promoting their business, and resulting inability to “perform.”

That is to say, stage fright can:

  • Block your ability to find the words to describe your business; and
  • Inhibit your ability to speak or write about your business.

In addition, stage fright can be compounded because, as a business owner, one lacks perspective.

Every business owner is personally, financially, and emotionally attached to his/her business. This is a normal attachment, but it can further increase the difficulty of expressing “why your business” in a way that resonates with others.

The ability to formulate a clear marketing message is integral a business’s success.

10 Steps to overcoming stage fright in your marketing plan by gaining perspective and finding “the words.”

  1. Pretend you are talking about your business to a close personal friend. Write down the answers to: What excites you about your business? What are your proudest achievements in your business?
  2. Ask others with whom you do business what they like best about working with you; why they use you rather than someone else; what is the one thing they find most valuable for them about your business?
  3. Imagine your competitors—then write down those things you know you do better than your competitors
  4. Focus on the best customer service you have provided in the past and describe it.
  5. If you have the courage, then ask your clients, “what is the one aspect of patronizing my business you would like to see improved?”
  6. Can you make changes that would allow you to make the appropriate improvements, or remedy the situation if it were to happen?
  7. Ask your clients, “If you were to refer someone to my business, what would you emphasize as a reason to use me?”
  8. Invite some friends and/or clients to meet with you and discuss your business.
  9. Develop your message around the positive remarks, and begin to improve on the areas that your clients describe as “needing improvement.”
  10. Think of yourself and your business as a host who is inviting others to an “event.” Write an invitation to do business with someone.

Congratulate yourself!

Taking the time to gain some perspective is the first step in overcoming marketing stage fright.

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Because Business is Personal!

People are routinely heard to say “it’s nothing personal — it’s just business.” Nothing could be further from the truth!

Business begins and ends with relationships. How business relates to its customers is the very foundation for success or failure.

Ask Netflix, who completely failed to take into account its customers’ response at having to contend with two companies instead of one in order to receive films both through the mail and over the net.

Or ask Bank of America, or any bank that decided to charge fees to its customers for debit card use.

There are dozens if not hundreds of reasons customers will enter into a relationship with a business: price, convenience, quality, style, uniqueness, to name a few. And just as many reasons they will leave that relationship: failure to meet expectations, poor quality, apparent disrespect, lack of value, stale product line.

To suggest “it’s nothing personal” is to completely misconstrue the nature of business as it relates to its customer base.

Business is personal.

It is very personal — regardless of the size of the business. Customers are individuals in relationship with the vendors. This is as true when selling B2B through large business purchasing departments as it is to individual consumers. Businesses have been known to lose contracts because of a poor relationship with someone as lowly as a purchasing agent, or an unfortunate slight perceived by the company president.

The entire Occupy Wall Street movement is a reaction by people to the callous disregard by large business for its constituencies, particularly its customers. This is nothing new, particularly in corporate settings. With companies large or small, when the focus is taken off the relationship with the customer and the emphasis turns to profit, losses cannot be far behind. Ironic, but true. Yet, “business” has been taught in colleges, and defined by economists, as profit-making enterprises. And they are, and are supposed to be. But long-term, sustainable, profit comes through relationships, not financial manipulation.

The mistake of Milton Friedman was defining the role of corporations business as a money making organization, responsible for creating profits for its shareholders, to the exclusion of any particular relationship to its clientele.

Alan Greenspan was stunned to think business would not act in its own long-term best interests by being responsible to its stakeholders — including its customers, as he testified before congress in the midst of the financial collapse three years ago. He failed to see the problems inherent in allowing corporate heads operate companies free from regulation. In effect, he said, “Who knew corporate higher-ups might be greedy people looking out for themselves as individuals, rather than responsible stewards of their stakeholders’ investments, by doing what is right for all concerned — including the customer.”

Enron and Bernie Madoff are clearly the extremes of the inmates running the asylum.

But the truth is any business person can forget for a time that the profits are derived from good, solid, ongoing relationships with his or her customers. But, forget the relationship for too long and disaster awaits.

Regardless of the basis a customer has to “walk through your door,” they have offered you the opportunity for an ongoing relationship that will make you money. If that relationship is cultivated properly they will tell their friends about you, and help you make more.

Yet, if the relationship sours, re-instilling confidence will be that much harder, and profits that much leaner…Because business is personal.

Rick Beeman and Sanford Friedman
are the authors of
Before It’s Too Late!
5 Essentials to Consider before
Starting a Business
.

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3 Ways Putting Yourself First Will Improve Your Business!

It may seem counter-intuitive, in fact heretical, to suggest that a person in business should focus on him- or herself rather than focusing on the customer. But you cannot be effective as a business person without being in touch with your own motivations for being in business. To do so will allow you the freedom to commit yourself to your customers. Here’s how.

People go into business for a variety of reasons. Clearly the difference between going into business and enjoying a hobby is that a business is supposed to make money, presumably a profit. But to go into business for money is NOT the principal reason most people do so.

Yes, money is a factor, but more specifically, money is a means, not an end, to deriving other satisfactions from business beyond an inflated bank account. In other words, money symbolizes any number of other things: power, freedom, flexibility, security, leisure, self-esteem, social standing, life-style alternatives, time, ability to give back, etc.

By understanding money as being a means to an end, one is freed to focus on the other reasons one went into business. Focus, not on the money, but on the rewards you receive by being in business. Those rewards may be physical or emotional, tangible or intangible, internal or external. For example, one might be in business for any of the following reasons:

  1. I am in it to build my self-esteem
  2. I am in it to help others accomplish “X”
  3. I am in it to make a better life for myself
  4. I am in it for social interaction
  5. I am in it to add security for my retirement
  6. I am in it to provide a better alternative product or service than my former employer could or would.
  7. I am in it to make a contribution to society

Daniel Pink, in his book, Drive, posits that there are really only three motivations that resonate with people: Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. His premise is based on the research of Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in the field of Positive Psychology.  According to them all motivation can be reduced to autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

Everything else, including money, stems from these three.

Based on these findings, putting yourself first can actually improve both your business and your abilities as a businessperson.

  1. If you focus on mastery, being the best businessperson you can be, and providing the highest quality product or service available, your business will certainly improve.
  2. If you focus on purpose, defining your business as a means to creating something meaningful and greater than yourself, you will attain greater fulfillment from your business. Your self-esteem will be improved, the quality of your social interactions will be better, and the customer experience you deliver will be more complete.
  3. If you focus on autonomy, you will be able to envision ways in which your business can begin to run itself. You can begin to delegate much of what it is you do, create more free time for yourself, and attain a greater quality of life.
  4. If you focus on money, to the exclusion of everything else, none of the benefits of autonomy, mastery, or purpose will accrue to you

So, as you conceptualize, or re-conceptualize your business, think of yourself first and everything else will follow.

Rick Beeman and Sanford Friedman
are the authors of  
Before It’s Too Late!
5 Essentials to Consider before
Starting a Business
.

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We 21 Million Solopreneurs Can Pull This Country Out of Recession

As solopreneurs, we have no one to blame but ourselves if we are struggling – and most of us are struggling.

Over the last three years, incomes for solopreneurs, on average, fell in excess of 12 percent. As of 2009 solopreneurs were generating gross receipts of approximately $45,000 per capita, which means they (we) were taking home about half that, or $22,500. A drop of 12 percent means that the average Solopreneur is taking home about $20,000 annually.

The term Solopreneur means “non-employer.”

According to the Small Business Administration, there are more than 21 million solopreneurs in United States, out of 28 million businesses. Yet those 21 million account for less than 3.4 percent of gross domestic product. By economists accounts this means that the financial contribution to society by solopreneurs is “statistically insignificant.”

As a group, we solopreneurs, by sheer numbers of business people can have a significant effect on the goings-on in Washington. After all, we account for 15 percent of the workforce.

It is time to stand up and be noticed. It is time to be heard. It is important to note, however, the stronger we become as businesses, the greater our influence, the greater our success, the more credible we become.

It is not my intent to suggest that we, as solopreneurs, are victims. Nor is it my intent to suggest that we need  greater governmental help. Far from it. (But, a level playing field would be nice.)

As a group of 21 million solopreneurs, we have the collective power to pull this nation out of recession, and set things on a better course.

It is the purpose of the Solopreneur Soapbox to build community among solopreneurs, well as collectively improving our businesses, and our lives. To that end, the Solopreneur Soapbox is dedicated to helping solopreneurs get their businesses fit, and get their businesses found, through whatever means appropriate.

Our purpose is to generate dialogue, direct solopreneurs to resources and information, and be a conduit to improving your business.

Join me, won’t you?

Rick Beeman

preneurWorld LLC

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