When I start working with a new client I always ask them if they are OK for me to talk about the project on social media. With established businesses this isn’t usually a problem, for pre-starts – they aren’t always so keen. Sometimes this is to do with a contract from their previous place of work where they aren’t able to work yet, which is fair enough, but sometimes they just don’t want to spill the beans quite yet, maybe they’re nervous of what people will think, want to keep the idea a secret (at least for now) or they want to make a big splash by seemingly having nothing and then – BOOM – everything is suddenly in place.
Here’s some reasons why it’s a good idea not to keep your new business a secret before you’re really ready to begin:
Stir up excitement and intrigue
Even if you don’t want to tell everybody everything right away, you can still start to give out small pieces of information. Coming Soon… Not long now… think of your business as a trailer for a film. You could show small parts of the movie, give away a bit of information to get people excited, but not reveal everything until you launch. That way you can get people talking about it before you begin – which means that when you ARE ready to make a song and dance about it, there are people ready to listen. Say you’re opening a restaurant – wouldn’t everyone love to see the progress and feel like part of the journey with you before you open? You could show the flooring going in, choosing the chairs, tasting for the menu – there’d be so much you could include to get people excited before the doors open.
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Build up an audience
If you can get people excited about your business before you start then you’ll have people to tell (apart from your Mam) when you begin. Building up an audience also means that you not only have people to tell, but people to sell to. It means that you’ll have people who will be able to share what you’re doing and you won’t have to speak into the void when you have an announcement. You’re starting early – and this is worth doing. You might even be able to make some bookings or sales in advance.
Make your audience part of the story
Starting a business involves doing lots of exciting things, aside from the parts that I can help with – designing a logo, developing your brand identity, designing your website and branding up your social media profiles – which are all very exciting because they are visible signs of progress – you might be having meetings with investors or accountants or manufacturers or copywriters or marketers or photographers. You may take delivery of products or be writing your programme materials. There will be a lot of doing – and you can bring your audience along for the ride, asking for recommendations and opinions, but also just showing them what’s going on behind the scenes. People love a good story, they’ll love being part of yours.
Test the market
If you talk about your business before it starts then you can ask questions, run surveys and listen to see what people think. Maybe you were going to offer that product in purple and green, but people are really keen on an orange version. Perhaps you have questions about their preferred paper stock or about how much they’d be willing to pay. Maybe you want to talk to a focus group or pop along to a networking meeting – you could show your idea off and then pay attention to what people are saying about it. This could be invaluable.
Get some interest before you get going
If you’re talking about your business before you start then you might find that you already have people ready to buy when you’re ready to sell. You could even start your business with an offer for the people who joined your waitlist or for your followers on a specific social media channel. It means you’re not starting out cold. You’ll be able to launch to people who have been waiting for your product to be ready, your programme to begin – people who believe in you, like you and feel like they know you.
So where do you get your audience from?
This will depend hugely on what you do. You’ll need to spend some time thinking about who your client is. Who do you want to work for? Who would buy what you have to offer? Create a picture of who they are, give them a name and then from that work out where they are. That’s where you need to be.
You don’t need to be everywhere. You just need to be where your clients hang out.
This might mean creating social media accounts on the best platforms for what you do. It could mean attending events. It might mean advertising in the paper – which admittedly is tricky if you don’t yet have anything to offer, but with a bit of clever thinking or a PR strategy I bet you could come up with something. It might mean creating a freebie to build your email list before you focus on your offering and running ads to get people (your audience) to sign up. It might be that you spend some time in Facebook groups asking people what they think and sending them over to a Facebook page that doesn’t have your branding on it yet – or better yet to a page to join your list. You don’t need a website for this, just get yourself a free Mailchimp account and you can set up a form on there and direct people to that.Join in with Twitter chats. You don’t need to wait for your logo to be ready to get going. I know you want to look professional and amazing, but there’s no reason why you can’t use a photograph of you and a photograph of something relevant in the interim. Just start. You might want to mingle at coffee mornings or go networking, befriend people who own complementary businesses or start talking to the parents in the school yard. Collect emails to build your list (with permission of course) and if you don’t have business cards yet than be creative and invent some. You could write your email and phone number on something memorable. I remember being given hand written luggage labels once, you could grab a seed packet (because your business is growing) or individually packed teabags or even just run some really simple cards off on your home printer if you need to. You may need to grab a telephone directory and start making phone calls to ask for feedback or suggestions.
So if you’re starting a business, don’t wait to have everything in place. Get going now, because when you’re ready you’ll be more ready. People will know who you are and you’ll be ahead of yourself.
If you’re ready (or not!) to start talking about your business and you would like your brand identity and/or website created while you’re at it, then click here for more info. I’d love to help you out.