Following on from last week's post about small business Internet marketing and how to win business online I've created a short video (5 mins 49 secs) where I tell you the story about setting up my own small business and share two lessons I learned from that. So today you don't have to read me, you can listen and/or watch instead. I hope it'll be a pleasant change.
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A rough transcript
This is more of my story about setting up a small business for Internet marketing and some of the lessons I learned from that.
I got into Internet marketing in 1995 when I completed an MA In Design for Interactive Media from Middlesex Uni in London. I had a background in teaching and journalism and my writing skills were a great foundation for a career in Internet marketing.
In 1998 I moved to Waiheke Island, a small New Zealand island with only 8000 residents a 35 minute ferry ride from Auckland and me and my husband set up our own company. It was an experiment to see if we could earn enough money working from home. Like a lot of people we wanted to be our own bosses, work flexible hours so we could look after our new baby and shorten our commute to just down the corridor.
But we didn't know anyone in the area and all our prospective clients were in Auckland. To make matters worse, Waiheke Island had a reputation for being home to hippy drop-outs so when we set up our website we added a PO Box address in Auckland and generally tried to hide the fact that we lived and worked on this little island.
With no clients and no contacts we resorted to some old-fashioned cold calling to get our business started. Basically, I got the phone book, picked specific businesses like tourism or real estate who'd benefit from having a website, checked that they hadn't already got one and gave them a call.
Sadly, I'd never done any cold calling before and had limited experience in sales, unless you count working behind the bar in a pub in London. When I finally managed to get hold of the boss and stop stammering enough to suggest their company could benefit from having a website the typical response was:
What's a website?
The second most common response was:
We don't need any help with that, thanks. My friend's cousin's gardener is going to make one for us.
Please remember that these were decent sized businesses too.
This went on for months until finally someone took a leap of faith and let us design their website. The good news was that they were a global company called Glaxo Wellcome so that looked great in our portfolio. The bad news was that we were to design a website for their product zovirax which is a treatment for herpes.
I started cold calling with renewed confidence and vigour and found that the zovirax website proved a real help in differentiating me from other callers and winning business. For better or worse some people started to call me the herpes woman but most of them were keen to hire me even though I sounded a bit dodgy. Business picked up steadily from then on and after a year or so I didn't need to make any cold calls because most of our business was coming from word of mouth.
So that's the story about how we set up our first small business. As you can see, it wasn't easy, there are always obstacles that made it hard, but these are two lessons I learnt from it that you can apply to your own business:
Small Business Internet Marketing Lesson 1
Be ready to educate your clients on why they need your products or services. Today most small businesses understand that they need a website but many don't know what makes an effective website that will get results and give them a good return on their investment.
Small Business Internet Marketing Lesson 2
Work out your unique selling point. What makes you stand out from your competitors? Don't leave your clients do decide what differentiates you or you never know what you'll end up being called but you do need to have a USP so start thinking about it.
If you're like us and run a small business then you're probably the sales and marketing manager for your business. Internet marketing is still the best way for small business owners to grow their business and I'd love to help you learn how to win more business online.
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