By August 9, 2013 Read More →

5 great excuses for not marketing your home-based business

Marketing your home-based business - Jo BradshawI’m delighted to welcome Jo Bradshaw to the blog. When Jo wrote this guest post she was teaching marketing and branding, helping her clients define and refine brands, find a compelling voice in their communications and connect with their own right people.

As a freelancer working from home she understands all about your reservations about branding and marketing your home-based business and her post busts all the excuses in the nicest possible way:

Working from home is fabulous, isn’t it? The freedom to wear pyjama bottoms to important meetings. Cake and endless cups of tea. Fluffy friends at your feet. The autonomy! The freedom!

The…loneliness. The self-doubt. The chattering inner critic.

When you work from home, and you’re the chief practitioner, the writer, the admin, the tea-maker and the boss, it’s kinda hard to wear the marketing department hat as well. Branding and marketing your home-based business feel, well, a bit bleurgh. If your inner critic has been spinning you tall tales which are preventing you from leveraging your brand (or even allowing yourself to think that you’ve a right to one!), it’s time to shine some light and expose the shadowy excuses for what they are. Excuses. Ready?

Five great excuses for not marketing your home-based business. And how to bust them

1. “I’m too tiny to be a brand. It’s just little old me! I feel really silly even thinking about branding!”

Bust it: Do you know how hard it is to decide on brand strategy for medium and big companies? It can be a nightmare. As a solopreneur, you’re lucky. You’re autonomous. You don’t have to run every single decision past a board or colleague. Use your agility and lack of overheads to your advantage. You absolutely have the right to be a brand as one person. Chances are, if you align your message with your own values and point of view, you’ll be more engaging as a person-brand than you would trying to hide behind a faceless corporate mask.

Can you think of any successful entrepreneurs who put their whole selves into their brand? Who?

2. “But I feel like I should pretend to be bigger than I am, and ‘proper’, to sound more professional.”

Bust it: When you write any sort of copy for your business, and there are no other people working with or for you, don’t use ‘we’. It sounds inauthentic. There’s no need to pretend to be anything other than you are. Check any standard forms or footer content for misleading statements like ‘we respect your privacy.’ And please: use your own voice. Probably a key reason for leaving employment was that you weren’t able to express yourself fully that way. You don’t need to hide behind corporate-speak. Being your own boss is a brilliant opportunity to let your unique personality shine, while remaining empathetic to your clients’ needs (think ‘I’ and ‘you’ in your writing, not ‘we’ or ‘me me me!’)

Can you find any ‘about’ pages on websites you admire run by one-man bands? How do they express their personality? ‘

3. “How can I market without spending a fortune? I don’t have the budget for advertising.”

Bust it: Advertising might work if you’re a niche product and you’ve got a very clear target market in mind, but generally, it’s not the best strategy for small service-based businesses. Start thinking about how you can be generous marketing your home-based business without giving away your core offering. Are you blogging and guest blogging? Do you write newsletters? What about giving talks or webinars? Getting to know peers in aligned industries and their networks?

A website full of useful and generous content, along with a way people can connect with you (signing up to an email list, preferably) is a great way to build trust and for people to get to know you. It’s also much easier for your clients to send referrals to your website to check out an article than to ‘give you a ring because you’re great.’

Make a list of questions your potential clients might want answers to in your field. What’s the first thing they get stuck on? How could your content help them find an answer to a problem?

4. “I can’t get started with marketing because my brand’s in a mess. I need to wait until I can present a more professional front.”

Bust it: Sexy branding is nice, but it’s not essential. Many successful entrepreneurs were huge before they tightened up their visual brand. There are loads of pretty ugly websites out there who have a huge and loyal following. Why? Because they have a unique and engaging message.

Nice visual branding is the icing on the cake. You’ve got to have a cake first. Every week you spend worrying about look and feel or which WordPress template to choose instead of honing your key message is a wasted opportunity to build trust. And trust is the number one indicator of your brand’s success! How do you build trust? Consistency. Care. Showing up. Start thinking of marketing your home-based business as an experience running through time rather than a flash communication reaching outward through space.

We’re so lucky these days that excellent themes, webfonts, business card templates, image editors and knowledge is freely available on the web. If you’re dithering, pick something clean and simple and stick to it. Pick one body font and one headline font and stick to them. Use one Instagram filter and stick to it. You can always tweak and perfect later. (And remember, even the biggest brands regularly make changes to their look and feel…it’s an iteration).

5. “I hate all the attention on me.”

Bust it: Yes. We all resist it. So, don’t make it about you. Ask yourself why you went into business in the first place. Who you’re doing this for. Why you want to help them. At the heart of it, branding isn’t about you. It’s about them. The people you most love to work with and help. So NOT marketing your home-based business is actually depriving those people who are naturally attracted to you, to the way you work, and to what you could do for them. It’s your responsibility to get visible so you can be found. You’re not being pushy.

Can you fill in the blanks? I do……….for………….because……………. Keep reconnecting with the who and the why. Showing up gets easier.

Jo is an illustrator (the picture above is one of her original illustrations) and has been self-employed since 2003, working from home in lots of different countries.

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1 Comment on "5 great excuses for not marketing your home-based business"

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  1. Loved writing this post, and I’d love to hear which, if any resonated most with you…and which baby step you’re going to take next.