September 28, 2013
How Do You Know When You Are Ready?
Lights! Camera! Action!
Last night, I went to “AJ and Friends Small Business Night Out.” I made promotional necklaces to be passed out on behalf of my client, the DJ of the event, DJ SoundQuest. I attended the networking event to distribute these necklaces and promote my own business; I did so not knowing what to expect.
The Best Products are the Ones That Happen by Accident
The night began with me fumbling because I was running late. As I struggled to untangle my necklaces and hang them up next to the DJ, I considered for one moment the possibility that I’d be ridiculed for creating a promotional necklace out of a cassette tape. After giving one necklace out to a seasoned DJ interested in obtaining the contact info for my client, I discreetly walked away so no one would make a connection between me and the necklaces I made.
WHEN IN DOUBTAnd so the night began. Although I received a compliment on the necklace I wore around my neck from a friend, I questioned whether people I didn’t know would be as receptive. For a moment, I was in doubt. I was prepared with a finished product but dazed and confused about what I should say about it.
THE TURNING POINTThe second compliment I received on my necklace was from a vendor, one I consider articulate, unbiased, and rather compelling. Our conversation changed my perspective on marketing and promoting my services. After engaging in a conversation with this particular business owner about her brand, she noticed and complemented me on my necklace. Her feedback on my necklace gave me the confidence to share the connection between the necklaces I made and the services I offer without reservation! The necklace became a conversation starter which began to flow as effortlessly as the concept of the necklace.
TRIAL BY ERRORAs I walked through the crowd, handing out the promotional necklaces, I kept being asked “how much do they cost?” I responded with a stunned expression. I could have kicked myself! Transparently, I turned to one of the greeters and said, “Wait a minute…you would buy this?” The answer was an unequivocal yes! She responded, “Yes, it’s different and cool!” One insightful person told me, “People are ready and willing to support because they are in the state of mind supporting other entrepreneurs.”
IT'S JUST A SAMPLEAs a non-vendor, I had several advantages. Moving throughout the crowd allowed me to find out what people were really thinking. Plus, I was able to actively test the marketability of my product within a diverse sample. I learned that people liked my product because it was nostalgic and reminiscent of a bygone era. After all, the cassette tape is an artifact and will probably be in the almanac in a couple of years. My 80’s babies and old school lovers lived for the cassette! One guest even told me, “Your necklace is just so fun!”
THE MORNING AFTER
The next morning, I initially felt disappointed. I harped on the fact I did not bring my business cards to the networking event. I had no guarantee that the people with whom I connected with the night before would connect with me or even remember my name.
However, through this trial and error process, I also realized I was selling myself short. I was already an entrepreneur, ready to make my living.
After all, like my friend Ashley Brown Dudley, owner of Lady Ashley Designs shared with me after I told her this story,
“One step forward and three steps back is just a dance.”
FIVE RULES OF SUCCESSFUL MARKETING and BRANDING I learned from attending “AJ and Friends Small Business Night Out”
|Photos By Ty Waterman|
· Ask people what they think and really listen to their answer. Feedback will tell you how your brand is received and the feelings your product evokes. Listening to your potential consumers will also make them feel included in your journey and your brand. When people do make purchases they will feel an emotional connection to a brand.
· Be interested in other people’s brands. Hearing about other people’s brands will give you access to the similarities and differences between their products and yours. Engaging with others will give you insight on how to market your own brand.
· Wear your confidence. When you believe in your product others will too. Wearing my product (well) and taking me seriously made others take notice. Wearing my product also made what I do tangible, fluid, and credible for potential consumers. Although I initially had concerns about how people would receive it, I faked it until I made it! Wearing the product actually started the conversation.
· Pay it forward. Take risks! Do not overanalyze or put yourself down. Be willing to be with people and the next steps of your business plan will unfold as long as you are willing to put yourself out there and learn from your experience. Had I not had the courage to put myself and my product out there, I would not have had this epiphany and the opportunity to embody my brand.
Edited By: EJ Carl