When I started in Marketing nearly 10 years ago, I really had no clue what I was doing. I’ve learned a lot since then and looking back there are a few lessons I’ve learned which I wish I had known earlier. However, as I continue to expand the slew of projects I work on, it is clear that the learning never stops.
Regardless of what industry you might represent or what product you sell in business, here are some practical tips gleaned from experiences – which hopefully you won’t have before putting them into practice.
Let’s Grow up and be Professional
Sadly, I hate to admit it, but women compare each other. Having usually worked with men, I had often found it difficult working with other women unless we clicked immediately. The reason was quite silly – it was a lack of maturity and professionalism from all parties that made it more difficult to have a good working, relaxed and comfortable environment.
I experienced this first hand while in college. I worked at a small company which was mostly women, and as I passed by a group of them standing and chatting, one came up to me and said that they wanted to know what size I was. Being much younger and more petite than them, I was quite upset – I couldn’t believe these women who were supposed to more mature than I was, were actually having a conversation about my body size.
I responded saying ” why would it matter to you? I don’t ask you what size your hips are!”
It’s true that women tend to compare others with themselves more than we want to admit. Time to get professional and focus on our mutual business goals.
As professional women, we need to look past our genders, our looks, our comparisons, and focus on our common goal at hand. Let the goal be the cause that binds, not personal similarities such as the age of our kids, lack of kids or hobbies we share.
Although these similarities can help strengthen personal friendships between employees, it should never be the reason why we work well together.
Take Advantage of Your Natural Communication Skills
One advantage most women have over men is we are inherently better communicators. With the growth of social media over the few years, being able to communicate online has become an increasingly important role in business.
Granted, not all businesses need social media to grow in leaps and bounds, but it is a part of marketing and should not be overlooked. Blogging alone is a way to communicate with your customers and prospects. Sharing insights into product features and industry news is a great way to communicate with others and bring in new visitors to your website.
Take advantage of your natural communication skills and use these tools to spread the word about what you do and why you’re a reliable source for whatever it is you are selling. Even though the phone and other traditional means should never be ignored, today’s technology makes Marketing and Sales more interdependent than ever before.
Small and Large Businesses can be More Like Each Other
It is not uncommon for owners to assume if customers knew how small their business was, they would run in the opposite direction. Therefore, owners of small businesses (especially struggling ones), will try to present themselves as something they are not.
This is very sticky ground because although you want to appear larger, it can come across as fake or sneaky if done improperly. Examples I have seen are having multiple phone extensions when they all ring to the same person, or having a number of listed departments listed on a website when again, they all go to the same person. If you’re a one or two person shop – don’t make it look like you are not by being deceitful, but don’t necessarily advertise it either.
I remember almost 8 years ago, I was very conscious of our small business size and one day a sales rep asked us what our office looked like. I thought it was an odd question, so I answered we have a hallway with offices on each side (that would be the layout of our apartment which indeed each room was an office).
I felt quite silly answering the question and immediately wished I had just openly said, we have a home office. The problem was at the time, I was so afraid of not meeting an “image” that I lost sight of the importance of simply being confident in our software product we were selling.
When you are confident in your product or service, there is no need to pretend to be someone or something you are not. Being confident in who you are and what you do is what customers and potential clients really want to see.
As a small business aim to create a strong foundation, just as would be expected from a larger business, specifically in areas such as marketing and operations. For example, using quality graphics and a quality website, along with tools like professional letterhead and envelopes all contribute to a professional image.
Larger businesses should look to deliver a small business service oriented reputation where every customer is treated with respect and given the attention they deserve. Small businesses should look to deliver the professionalism a large company would provide through marketing, organization and overall appearance.
It’s not easy growing a business, but learning to be professional on a personal level and in regards to the business structure, are two lessons that will help your business venture grow. Had I heeded some of the advice above, it would have helped me focus on the issues that really mattered and thereby pushing us forward with greater ease and success.
This article is contributed by Liz Krause, who works for both her husband and a telecommunications company which is one of many sip providers who specialize in internet phone service for businesses.
She also runs her own business in Affiliate Marketing and has a cooking website she works on part time as well.