When I started my first company (teaching piano lessons), my mom hung up a flyer in the school break room where she taught. I got my first 2 students from that flyer. I made copies and rode around the neighborhood on my bike, tucking them between mailboxes, but that was exhausting work and I quit after about a dozen houses. (Ok, so I may have paid my brother to put out a couple dozen more.) I got 2 new students from that hot summer afternoon. After a couple years, I had the brilliant idea to try putting out a sign in my yard that said: “Piano Lessons” and I got another student to sign up.
It was slow growing and it was frustrating. I had no blueprint on how to gain new students and I felt like a tiny raindrop in a sea of advertisers.
The only training I had in advertising was from what I saw around me: TV commercials and billboards and magazine ads. I knew I couldn't afford those. But I had NO IDEA what else to do.
However, my instincts were actually correct with those flyers and yard signs, though I did not know it at the time: Relationship and Layering.
I was able to gain students from the first flyer my mom hung in her school break room because people knew and trusted her. They felt they could trust her daughter. Word of mouth was my primary source of growth for nearly 10 years because people trust their friends’ opinions.
A simple sign in my yard DID yield results because people trust their neighbors. (Our friendly front porch and beautiful flowers probably helped, too!)
The first focus of growing your business should be focused on relationships. People can sense when you truly care about them and their needs. From your first interaction, you are beginning to build your relationship with your customer. This relationship continues to grow and build with every interaction and every communication. You don’t need to ACT like you are a big business. You need to be a small business that cares. You need to have excellence in all that you do, but also be open and friendly and kind.
Layering is the result of using many different venues to get your message to your audience. You layer your results by gaining a few customers from each layer and by simple addition, you grow!
Here's how to layer with the tools you already have:
By having multiple layers of your message in various venues, you will begin to the see the results add up!
Here’s a little secret: You won’t grow your business by obsessing about your “brand.” If you spend all your time making business cards that match your website that match your letterhead, I guarantee this won't help you get new business. Focus instead on building relationships and finding as many venues to advertise in as possible. Focus on communication and showing people that you care.
Coke, Pepsi, Disney and Apple have instant brand recognition. You don’t have millions of dollars to spend on obsessing about your brand like they do. So don't try to copy them.
Instead, work on building relationships. When people like you, they trust you. When they trust you, they will buy from you. Make a list of 5 ways you will build your relationships with your customers. For more help, request a free call with us!
About the Author
Hi, I'm Jen Hickle!