I graduated from Bentley University, a school that has always been ahead of its time. From requiring that all of its students own a laptop, in the early 90’s, to hiring a staff of actively-working-in-the-profession professors; they were doing things other colleges wouldn’t be doing for 20 years. But, I have got to admit when I was a student they had a series of radio and TV ads that put me off. It was not the ads themselves; it was the idea of having ads. I couldn’t help but wonder will the advertising hurt the value of my degree? Are they hurting for enrollment? Bentley has done amazingly well and in recent years I’ve seen many other colleges use similar marketing tactics.
I was surprised, then, to hear from a doctor that medical doctors, dentists and therapists have the same issue. Advertising and many other forms of marketing communications are considered not acceptable. There’s the feeling that potential customers would equate “charlatan” with advertising. I’m guessing this stigma toward advertising and other marketing communications exists in many industries.
So how do you get the word out?
Provide a fantastic customer (client, patient, member) experience. Super happy customers will evangelize your business for you. Word of mouth can be your best friend if your business is providing a great customer experience. A new Qdoba just opened near me. I am usually not a fan of fast food but, the store is super clean and inviting, the food is good and most of all the staff is fantastic. They are helpful, fun, funny and take time to joke with my 3 year old. Reflect on the best customer experiences you’ve had and incorporate ideas into your business as you can.
Build a web presence. I’m amazed at how many freelancers, consultants and private practitioners have no web presence at all. At a minimum, you should be on LinkedIn. If you are not on LinkedIn check out this post and this post.
Build a good-looking and useful website. Having your own website helps to build credence with potential customers. It legitimizes your business. In the same way a website can denigrate your brand. If you’ve got a site up from four years ago you may be projecting an image that’s less than what your business really is.
Capitalize on search. When someone can’t find a product or service via a referral from a friend they turn to search. Simply think of how a prospective customer might conduct a Google search to find your product or service and work these words and phrases into your website copy. The more specific the better chance you have of being found.
If old-fashion advertising is not right for you, there are still a ton of ways to reach your audience.