If you’re a shrinking violet, stop reading now. Only the boldest of business owners should attempt these strategies. These are gutsy moves that involve connecting with consumers, the press, your competition, and industry influencers in ways that will dramatically elevate your reputation and your enterprise.
THROW OPEN YOUR DOORS
Set aside one day a month and host an open house. This means your office has to be in tip-top shape, your company has to have news to share, your employees must be happy, and you have to play the charismatic host. Oh, and you have to spring for food. Offering a delicious and free buffet is the quickest way to win over hardened (and hungry) invitees. As much as throwing open your doors is a magnanimous gesture, its true purpose is to boost your business. Invite industry influencers. Let them get a peek behind the scenes and maybe they’ll offer tips on how to improve your company’s performance. Invite the press; they can cover a popular employee perk or a groundbreaking green initiative. If you’re especially daring, welcome your competition for a summit of sorts. Together you may transform the industry—with you leading the way.
GET OUT OF YOUR OFFICE AND MEET CUSTOMERS
If a computer screen separates you from your customer base, it’s time to come out of hiding. There was a time most small- business owners had daily, face-to-face interactions with their customers. There were no online surveys, review forums, or social media platforms. If a product was defective or a service was sub-par, owners knew immediately because customers came into the store and told them. Exceptional, in-person customer service cemented brand loyalty. If you are serious about growing your business, you must regularly meet with customers, especially those who lodged complaints. Be sure to ask the hard questions: In what instances won’t you purchase from us? Would you recommend us to a friend? What can we do better? Sales data and page views won’t give you these answers, real live people will; Act on that feedback and your business will soar.
BECOME THE GO-TO FEATURED GUEST
There’s no quicker way to catapult your business into the national spotlight than by landing a regular gig as a featured guest on television or in a magazine. Television and print media still reach a lot of people and give you the most clout. If you are ready for the limelight, you need to establish yourself as an expert. You run a business, so you’re an expert at being an entrepreneur. But don’t sugarcoat your experience. Be prepared to talk candidly, and with humor, about tough topics: the sacrifices you made to jump-start sales, how you vet job candidates, or how your business righted a customer service snafu. Next, if you plan to do television, you’ll need a makeover. You can look like an everyman, but make sure you’re an everyman with great hair, white teeth, clear skin, and a smart wardrobe. Make a list of the top three shows and/or print publications you want to collaborate with. Work overtime to find someone who knows a director, producer, or writer on those shows, or who knows the editor or publisher of those magazines, and then make your pitch in person.
Do you have what it takes to propel your brand to the next level? Fearless entrepreneurs throw open their doors and invite the public in. They regularly meet with customers in person and ask for feedback, and they land featured guest roles on television and in print. Get your entrepreneurial hustle on and watch how it transforms your business.