New Perspective on Marketing…and Why Some Business Owners Are Shy About It

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Yet another good find in the New York Times Small Business section. The article is entitled “Why Some Owners are Shy About Marketing” and discusses precisely that: why it is hard for some of us business owners to toot our own horn and get out there and tell people what we do and how well we do it so that we can get business in the door.

I have been focusing a lot on marketing these days. As a lawyer who works with small and medium-sized businesses, a lot of that marketing is personal networking, building relationships with potential clients and referral sources to develop that trust and familiarity that has to exist before someone will turn over their company’s legal matters to you. As a lawyer, I also have some limitations from the Rules of Professional Conduct about what I can’t do, like cold-calling. But despite those few limitations, a law firm is like any other business and you have to get out there and sell. Don’t believe in the “Field of Dreams” theory of marketing: build it and they will come. It ain’t that way.

To work on my firm’s marketing, we first defined a specific niche market to set us apart from other small firms that focus on small and medium-sized businesses (and there are many of them!).

We are a women-owned law firm that works with women-owned businesses for employment and business-law matters.

We help business owners solve and prevent problems with their employees. Narrowing your marketing message makes it easier for people to remember you. I have been told by many marketing consultants that defining and marketing yourself to a niche market doesn’t exclude other business but rather will help your business grow. Although it is counter-intuitive, I have faith that they know better than I.  After all, they work in marketing and I don’t.

To access this niche market, I have joined business organizations like NAWBO-MN (National Association of Women Business Owners of Minnesota) and am pursuing WBE (Women Business Enterprise) certification. But beyond that, I am involved in other business groups and associations like the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce and MetroIBA. I also joined a BNI group. It seems like a lot and it is, but if you aren’t out there selling your business, where will your next client come from?

I relate to the business owners quoted in the NY Times article. It is hard to get out there and toot your own horn (especially being a Midwestern, where we are taught not to brag). You have to believe in yourself and the value that you bring to your clients. But if you don’t sell your business, who will?

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