Last week, I started a four-part series of articles on “what happens when you take your own advice.” The same advice, techniques, tricks and tools I suggest to my clients, I used myself to open an art gallery in about 60 days. If you missed the first article, start here
For those who read last week’s post, let’s continue…
When you operate more than one business, it is important not to mix them. Your business profiles should be separate. Keep them separate. They should each have their own brand, systems, websites, social networks, etc. You don’t want to confuse your existing clients. Especially, when the two businesses are completely different. This can be difficult because you naturally want to share your excitement about your new venture with your current clients. You can make an announcement once you’re ready to open your new doors, but limit conversation about the new venture with your existing clients. Formally introduce them at the appropriate time.
Systems are important. Running two businesses is not something I would suggest to anybody. However, if the opportunity arises, you can make it more manageable with systems. As a small business owner wearing multiple hats, you have to have systems. They allow for you to maintain some sort of organization. Since I already had a business as a Micro Business Therapist, it was important not to just disappear off the face of the earth. There is a lot of energy and years of work put into that brand; not to mention clients who need me. Having functional systems in place allows you to take breaks, test new ideas, measure your efforts, start new ventures, etc.
Use technology to your advantage. Schedule tweets and updates via sites like Hootsuite, allow clients to schedule appointments on their own via sites like Setster, schedule your blog posts a few weeks out, use your calendar to schedule and manage tasks and stick to it, automate your billing with sites like Freshbooks, setGoogle Alerts to keep up with important information (your name, your business name, trends, topics, people, other businesses, articles, events, etc.) There is a lot of technology available to support small business owners. Search for what you need and use it. When you are sick, absent or on vacation, it is important that you stay in touch with your base (via Constant Contact, Vertical Response, etc.). This can be difficult at times, but when you have systems and technology, it lessens the disruption in your business. (more technology resources here)
What do you want to be known for? What is your brand? Knowing who you are and where you fit in your industry is key. Branding starts with the name of your business, the look of your business, the style and feel of your business, the client experience, the whole of your business; including you and how you operate.
We opened a contemporary fine art gallery that exhibits evocative art in an intimate and private venue. My husband just de-installed our first show. He patched the holes, repainted the walls and was preparing to install the next show. The next day, I received a call from the Senator’s office requesting a private tour of the previous show. (I had called his office and sent a personal invitation three weeks prior). Anyone in the art world knows how tedious and time consuming it is to install and de-install shows. Some thought we should just have the Senator come back next month during the new show. Did we re-hang the show and invite him to come by? Or did we tell him it’s too late, the show was over and come back and see us next month? Not only did we re-hang the entire show; but we invited him and his staff members over for a private tour and lunch. Needless to say, we had a phenomenal time and it gave us an opportunity to set the foundation to collaborate with the Sentator’s office for next year’s events. Going the extra mile certainly paid off. Never underestimate the potential for opportunities in going the extra mile. Always remember your brand. If you are branding yourself as someone who provides an exceptional client experience, going the extra mile should be an everyday event.
Marketing is always a comprehensive element of small business. Don’t confuse comprehensive withcomplicated. Every small business owner should be able to manage minimal marketing techniques. Marketing basics include: website, social media platforms, press releases, free/paid ads, postcards and most important, a clear and consistent marketing message. Your brand/marketing collateral needs to look and feel professional.
Sometimes it’s not about what you do, but how you do it. We held a private preview before our grand opening and sent out 75 (plus one) custom invitations to key individuals. It only takes a few people to spread your good news when you have the right people in place. We were very careful and selective about who we invited to the private preview. This worked so well, their over-excitement generated calls to the gallery for additional invitations and some just “crashed.” We ended up with a full house and about 300 people passed through that night. When you are marketing, have a purpose, have a plan and make sure you are speaking to the right audience.
Social media is the small business owner’s best friend. It is the quickest most effective way to get the word out for a new business, new product, new service, new event, …new anything. Your connections can help move your message along the pipeline faster than a speeding bullet. Use them wisely. Take advantage of the technology, but don’t take your connections for granted. Be respectful of their time and space. Don’t overburden them with frivolous and multiple activities.
Stay tuned, next week, I’ll tell you how we got a local movie theater to sponsor our film screenings for a full month!
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