How to promote your business

A gentleman recently asked me how to advertise his business. Since this question required an elaborate answer, I've chosen to dedicate an article to it. Before embarking on advertising, let us start on the right foot. Instead of asking ourselves: How do I advertise? We can rephrase the question into: How can I reach more people? 

Businesses are meant to be social vehicles serving a purpose within a community. This means that we don't just want to reach people, but we want them to remember our business and understand what role it will play in their lives. For this to be accomplished, your business needs to 1) Establish a clear identity. 2) Position itself in that person's mind. Without a clear identity, there is nothing to remember. Without positioning, there is no purpose to remember that business for. 

Once you have a brand identity and position to fill in the customers' life set up, your job is to become an authority in a small space. Find a niche and openly declare yourself as its leader. You must then do for them what leaders always do- provide guidance. This is done through educational content and community building. You can create content via blogs, Youtube, Quora, Vimeo, Medium, etc. Community building on the other hand is done through the encouragement of debate, cooperation, and reaffirming values or rituals. You will likely need a temple where your customers can physically meet each other but much of community building can also be done online. 

Once you establish yourself as leader through content and education, you'll not only possess a community for your product but you'll also have a better idea of who your customers are. This information is vital for accurate audience targeting. With this knowledge at hand, you are now ready to advertise.

You are now at the golden step, but what should you advertise? Advertise your authenticity the game. Advertise that you're the original at something. You now have a small community behind you that can support this claim so the social validation is in your favor. People don't respond to ads that sell but to those that attract. Your authenticity to an industry, lifestyle, or service will attract that because everyone wants to be associated with what is established. So don't sell, just tell them you're the authentic at what you do.

Now that we're on advertising, here is a list of channels you can use to reach people: 

Search Engine Marketing: Your Blog, Google Adwords, Quora

Product as Marketing: Embed marketing in your product so that it spreads as people use them.

Permission Marketing: Email list, Mailing List, Facebook Likes, Reddit Channel

Content Marketing: Blog, YouTube, Podcast, Medium 

Social Networks: Facebook Page, Reddit Channel, Pinterest Board 

Public Relations: Press, Other people's blog, Newspapers. 

Customers as Marketing: Referral discount, Reward Points, Word of Mouth  

Community Building: Offline Events, Meet-ups, Cooperative Task 

Advertisements: Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Bulletin Boards, Classified Ads

Business Development: Strategic partnership, Cross promotions

You will have to experiment with each of these channels to see what works for you. Focus on tactics rather than strategy. Tactics are methods that consistently get you customers within a particular channel. Once you find a tactic that works, you scale them into a strategy that can be implemented over large regions. 

I never recommend entrepreneurs to blindly start their marketing efforts with advertising. There are preliminary work that must be done before an ad can mobilize a prospect to conversion. This preliminary work is known as pre-propaganda. A marketing book I believe will help illuminate entrepreneurs in this deep and interesting subject is called Positioning. This short piece is practical, and powerful. 

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