You’re having lunch with a friend. So far, she’s told you about the prize her kid won, the promotion she anticipates at work, the details of her new workout routine, and the intricate decision points that led to her choosing the new wallpaper for her dining room. Other than the obligatory uh-huh, you haven’t been able to get a word in. After an hour of never-ending monologue, you call for the check and remind yourself not to initiate any more meet-ups! Spending time with someone who only talks about herself is tedious and tiresome. The same applies to brands.
In today’s crowded marketplace, brand messaging that focuses on self-promotion tends to be ineffective and even off-putting, much like the coffee date monologue. Consumers are bombarded with advertisements, social media posts, and promotional messages from every direction, and they have become adept at tuning out blatant self-promotion. Instead, brands that prioritize authentic connections and provide value to their audience are the ones that truly capture attention and build long-lasting relationships. By focusing on shifting the spotlight to the people you aim to serve and understanding their needs, desires, and pain points, you can create content and experiences that resonate and genuinely engage your audience.
Here are 6 ways to promote your small business—without directly promoting your company.
Sharing other people’s content with a comment that adds a unique perspective (relevant to your followers) entrenches your position as a brand that encourages diverse opinions and meaningful discussions. Adding your own comment can incorporate additional context, insights, or personal experiences, further enriching the content and adding value for your audience. Sharing third-party content also shows that you appreciate and recognize the work of others, helping you build relationships and potential partnerships with like-minded individuals or businesses. You may also pique the interest of the original content creator’s audience, exposing your brand to new potential followers and customers.
One thing we know about humans with expertise is that they love to share it! Interviewing influential people in your industry helps strengthen your relationships with those people, elevates your brand by association, and can sometimes indirectly promote your small business to the audience of the interviewee(s).
One of our clients, Blueline Simulations, interviewed 20 learning leaders about the state of coaching in the workplace, which spawned a series of social posts tagging the relevant interviewees:
Here’s another thing most people on the internet love—listicles! Just like conducting an interview, creating a relevant Top X list of just about anything provides helpful content to your audience and gives you the chance to mention other brands and individuals.
You can create a list of anything that your audience will find interesting, helpful, or entertaining: books related to your industry, podcasts, thought leaders, software you use, quotes, sources of inspiration, you name it (and list it).
In today’s digital age, we don’t always get to meet up in person with our clients and colleagues. So, when you do get the opportunity, it’s news worth sharing! Consider taking a photograph and sharing it on social media with some kind words about that person to lend a human touch and increase your exposure. Even if you’re having a meeting online for a special reason you’d like to share, you can always take a screenshot.
I had the pleasure of meeting up with our web developer, Rachel Cardy, when I was visiting her hometown a few months ago:
Publicly acknowledging and expressing gratitude to those who have supported or influenced you or your business reinforces your bonds and connections while showcasing your authenticity and humility. Recognizing and mentioning specific individuals also creates an opportunity for engagement and conversation, prompting others to share their experiences or thoughts about your interactions, leading to further networking, connections, and discussions.
Which blog post are you more likely to read?
- Brighter Messaging is the best at conducting website audits
- How to conduct an online presence audit for your small business in 10 steps
We hope you went with the second option because that’s the one we wrote. Sure, we’d love businesses to task us with their website audits, and that’s why we have a website page dedicated to that specific service. To grab someone’s attention, however, you need to get more creative. A reader is unlikely to read the post if it’s purely promotional, rather than educational or informative. And you can bet there are plenty more Google searches for “how to conduct an online presence audit” vs “brighter messaging is the best at website audits.” Blog posts, newsletters, emails, and any content that actually provides value to readers is far more likely to be read and shared than posts oriented around describing how good your products and services are—and that’s how they serve to promote your small business simply by sharing your knowledge.
In business and in branding, being overly promotional is off-putting, counterproductive, and self-defeating. Instead, promote your small business by being as helpful as you can to as many people as you can. Whether it’s introductions to your network or providing free information, focus your time and resources on providing real value to your target audience. It might not happen in a day, week, or even year; but, over time, you’ll establish your brand as one that can be trusted with your prospects’ business. If you need help developing a content strategy that genuinely engages, informs, and delights your audience, reach out to our team for a free consultation.
P.S. See how the promotional plug was only thrown in at the end? We hope you found this blog helpful!