Monday, September 23, 2013

If You Brand it, They Will Come: 5 Tips for New Entrepreneurs By Dr. Shanté S. Bishop

One of the biggest misconceptions about going into business for yourself is that, “if you build it, they will come.” So many of us have great ideas, amazing talent, and innovative products that we want to bring to the marketplace. And like many entrepreneurs before us, we roll up our sleeves and get busy doing the nitty-gritty work of developing our product line, workshop curricula, widgets, gizmos, or gadgets. Finally, the day comes when we excitedly announce to the world that we are officially “open for business.” And THEN… nothing…crickets.

Sure, you may get a few inquiries, “What are you doing?” “What is this about?” “What exactly is this supposed to do?” But no one is actually BUYING. The dreams you had for creating a more financially secure life for yourself and your loved ones start to fade and self doubt starts to creep in. “Did I do the right thing?” “Should I have started this business?”  “How am I going to recoup the money I’ve already invested to get this thing off the ground…?”

This scenario is all too common and completely avoidable. Becoming an entrepreneur is challenging work. It requires discipline, sacrifice, and lots of determination. Entrepreneurship also has a steep learning curve. No matter what product or service you’re selling, you must know the fundamentals of being the CEO of your business, part of which includes branding and marketing.

Studies have shown that people will buy from or invest in people that they know, like, and trust. In order to get people to know, like and trust you, it essential that you create a brand IN ADDITION TO your business.  Branding is a targeted to strategy to create visibility for yourself and your business by giving value, establishing credibility, and building relationships. The purpose of a business is to make money.  Imagine if a complete stranger walked up to you and said, “I’m selling such and such. Give me $20.” You would probably give him “the look”, clutch your purse a little tighter and keep it moving…

Well that’s exactly what happens when entrepreneurs spend so much time working IN the business, that they don’t take time to work ON the business and build the relationships necessary to for people to invest money in their product or service.  Asking someone to buy from you is asking them for a commitment… a commitment of trust, a commitment of loyalty, integrity, and hard earned money. That’s a lot to ask for on the “first date”.

So here are five ways grow your brand, cultivate those relationships and maximize the growth potential for your business:

1. Content Marketing
 Content marketing is a way to give value to your audience and establish expertise. Content marketing simply means delivering meaningful, valuable, useful   information to your target audience. This can include blog posts, video tutorials, how-to guides & manuals, e-books, or podcasts.  Each of these provides a platform for you to grow your audience by delivering content.

2. Social Media Marketing
Social Media platforms like Facebook and Twitter provide great opportunities to engage your audience, showcase your latest product/offering, host contests, giveaways, and digital chats. It gives people an opportunity to get to know you. People resonate with real people, not with logos. Having a social media presence lets people interact and build rapport with the person behind the business. 

3. Host or Sponsor Community Events
Events are a great way to get out and meet the people that you want to invest in your business and it creates an opportunity to leverage the best marketing tool of all, “Word of Mouth.” If you are new or just starting out, offer to support or partner with another business who serves a similar audience/market. This is called “joint venture” partnering.  Doing so will allow you to grow your audience and get more traffic to your door or website.

4. Go to Conferences
The Boss Network CEO, Cameka Smith, often says, “Your network determines your net worth.” If you want to grow your brand and your business you need to get out amongst the movers, shakers, and influencers in your industry. Conferences are a great way to find out who’s-who, what’s -what, and make meaningful connections with people who can promote your brand. This is also an opportunity to exchange value. You may meet someone who can solve a need for you and you just may be the answer to their problem as well.  

5. Create a Digital Footprint
Technological platforms like Skype, YouTube, and Google Hangouts provide ready access to get your brand out in front of millions. Depending on your product or service you can interview people relevant to your brand and post them on YouTube, or have a YouTube channel that “shows” your business rather than “tells” people about  your business. For example, if you are a chef, YouTube can be a place to demonstrate your latest recipes and cooking techniques.

If you have a business that’s stalled or you doubt yourself because things aren’t happening at the pace you thought they would, don’t despair. Branding and business go hand in hand. If you’ve spent more time working on your business and not enough working on your brand, then change course, build your platform, and I assure you, they WILL come.

Brand strategist, Dr. Shanté Bishop, helps diverse women find the courage, clarity, confidence and conviction to pursue their passion, build multiple revenues, and increase  their visibility by launching a successful brand.  Get access to Shanté's FREE Brand Builder checklist and other free resources at

Be sure to connect with Shante at or Twitter @DesignHerLabel and Facebook

Check in with us next month for great information on: 
Personal Branding & Leadership
College Success,Strategic Planning/Marketing