Over the course of my work, I’ve noticed that most women are very uncomfortable when talking about their business. Many expect to receive recognition without having to blow their own trumpet. Here are some tips to help increase your confidence and promote your business effectively.
1. Focus on your strengths not your weaknesses
Whatever you put your attention on will always increase in your life. So if you keep focusing on your personal and business weaknesses, then you will simply make these bigger. In contrast, if you identify and build on your strengths, you will have greater leeway in business.
Since you’re the main marketer for your business, the business is judged as an extension of you. If all that people see are your weaknesses, then that is how they will judge your business.
Take time to analyze both your weaknesses and strengths; then blow up the strengths while working behind the scenes to reduce the weaknesses. The more you focus on your strengths, the better you will feel. The better you feel, the more confident you will become.
2. Separate yourself from the business emotionally
When you face criticism about the business, it’s not always about you. Likely sources of criticism include:
- Whether or not someone needs what you’re offering.
- How well you’ve explained what you do (sometimes we confuse people unnecessarily).
- You’re promoting your features not the benefits (value).
- You don’t sound confident about what you’re selling.
- You have no data or testimonials to back up your claims.
- You haven’t differentiated your product or services from what others are selling (especially what’s being offered by quacks and con men).
Seek to learn from the criticism and make changes in your promotional materials if need be. Also evaluate whether the person giving the criticism is credible or whether it’s someone who either loves putting people down, or has no intention of buying from you (but will not tell you so). With time, you will get better at discerning which criticism is constructive, and when someone is just venting on you.
3. Gather testimonials and recommendations
Talk to your best customers and ask them for testimonials. Ask them to refer or recommend your business to other people. Use testimonials in your marketing materials, on your blog/website, in your social media… These will show people that you already have customers who love what you offer. Also read through testimonials when you feel the need to be more confident as this will give you a confidence boost.
4. Work on your fears with an expert
If the fear of self-promotion or marketing is keeping you stuck, then it would help to work with an expert to overcome and end the fear. You can also buy books or attend personal development workshops that help you become more confident.
I used to fear publicity so much that I had no online presence. One day my coach challenged me to set up a website and post 3 articles on it; and then email all my friends the link to the website. At that time, it felt as if I was going to die (literally) and my hands were shaking as I clicked the button to “Publish” my site. That website turned into a coaching program and then into a blog.
A second coach then challenged me to write a book in 12 months and I collected blog articles, expanded them, and turned them into my first book. At every stage of my business, I’ve either worked with a coach, mentor or accountability partner to help me overcome new fears that creep up as the business grows. If you’re really stuck, then this tip alone will get you unstuck.
5. Stop looking at your competition everyday!
This tip may sound counter-intuitive because you do need to know what your competition is doing and use that information to improve your products and services to match or exceed your competitors’.
However, if you spend lots of time checking out what others are doing right, then you will always feel down and will never work on improving your own business.
If you’re getting stressed when your competition is running circles around you and mopping up all the customers, then it’s time to differentiate yourself, narrow down your target market, and create an offer that speaks directly to your target market.
This means that you MUST know your target market very well, understand their challenges, and match your solution to the challenges they’re having. In this way, you will no longer base your marketing on trying to beat the competition, but will have your own unique customers who love you, buy from you, and send customers your way. And that is how a successful business is created!
6. Master sales and marketing
There are no shortcuts to business success and being a sales and marketing superstar is another must. Marketing is telling people what you do or offer over and over. Sales is getting people to pay for your products or services. You can be great at marketing and not translate your efforts into sales if you cannot get your prospects to buy.
Some marketing examples include:
- Personally: networking, speaking, writing.
- Online: website, blog, social media, online adverts.
- Offline: radio, newspaper, and articles.
- Through your marketing materials: business cards, flyers, e-cards/flyers, posters, banners, samples, etc.
Every person has a marketing style that works for them and it would be useful for you to identify yours. You will be the main marketer when your business is young or if you don’t have money to pay for promotions and advertising.
Boost your sales and marketing skills by taking a class, attending a workshop, working with a marketing or business coach, or reading a book that gives you tips and resources. Take time to practice what you’re learning and keep the things that work for you. The more you practice, the faster you will identify you unique style and this will help you be more confident when promoting your business.
In marketing, image is everything so you will need professional marketing materials. Don’t create your business cards, flyers and other promotional materials yourself unless you’re skilled in graphic design. Remember that you only have one first impression so make this impression worthwhile.
If your budget is low, start with the basics such as a good business card and then move to the rest. You can get your logo and cards designed cheaply on Fiverr or your website on Upwork (formerly Elance). If you have no money for website design at the moment, use free online tools such as Weebly or Wix to create your first website or blog. As your business grows, get experts to overhaul your materials and online presence and make them more professional.
7. Provide outstanding products and services
This will give you happier and more satisfied customers, while reducing complaints. It will be hard to promote your business effectively when you have many people talking negatively about their experience with you.
Never promise one thing in your marketing and then offer something different or shoddy when someone makes a purchase. There’s nothing as bad as getting people to buy from you only for them to receive shoddy products or services. Always provide what you promised and if possible go a bit overboard and surprise your customers.
It would also be helpful if you could offer a guarantee, but this depends on your business, industry, and target market.
It’s very motivating when you’re able to talk about your business with ease. Looking back, I cannot believe that I’m now very active on this blog and social media, give talks, and attend networking events without fear. A few years ago, each of these activities would have sent me into a panic.
The tips outlined above helped me be more confident to the level where I now network effortlessly online and offline.
If you pick only one of these tips and work on it diligently for the next month, you too will see a huge improvement in your level of confidence.