I love baseball movies, particularly Field of Dreams. Remember the classic line? “If you build it, they will come.” Unfortunately, I speak with many entrepreneurs who act as though that were true in business. If they just hang out their shingle, advertise in the newspaper, or publish a paper, prospects will beat a path to their door.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with the methods mentioned. As a matter of fact, they really can help you build your business if done properly. I’d like to spend a few moments getting back to the basics, though. You may be overlooking some of your best opportunities.

Consider, for example, the following chart.[refer to the pdf version of this newsletter]This maps the effectiveness of various types of promotions against two scales – credibility and relationship. People want to buy from those they know and trust. That’s the relationship side of things. Add to that the fact that you may know and like someone, but you wouldn’t necessarily go to him or her for badminton lessons if they didn’t know the first thing about the sport. So it’s important that you also have credibility in your business. You need to be perceived as a go-to person for your industry. If you’re in a services business, or you sell a higher-end product, the two dimensions I’m showing here are critical.

Now, take a look at the individual items listed on the chart. The ones at the bottom left (ads and promotions) are actually lowest on the scale of relationship and credibility. Yet, I wish I had a nickel for every time a business owner came to me and wanted to focus solely on that bottom piece. That’s the equivalent of hanging out your shingle expecting everyone to now start doing business with you. It’s possible. But, it’s more likely if you combine those elements with others that get you better acquainted with your prospects. For example, as you work your way up the diagram, the level of credibility and relationship goes up. Those tactics can add dramatically to your results when combined with advertising and promotions. And the beauty of these is – they are usually free!

So think about ways you may be able to:

Use the media: Are you a good writer? Even if you’re not, you can hire someone to ghostwrite for you! Consider writing articles, advertorials, or case studies that highlight the positive results some of your customers have experienced. And don’t forget media releases. They are a great way to keep your name out in front of the public and in your industry.

Showcase your expertise: If you can stomach speaking in front of a group, this is a sure-fire way to highlight your knowledge. Of course, it is the number one fear of adults. (It ranks higher than death!) So I wouldn’t recommend this for everyone. But I WOULD recommend everyone practice and get more comfortable with speaking in groups. Odds are you have plenty of opportunities to give that 30-second verbal commercial at meetings and events. I had no idea how powerful that could be until I had two people come up to me after one such round of introductions at an association meeting. They wanted to hear more about my business specifically because of the way I introduced myself!

Leverage your efforts: I love referrals because they’re usually a slam-dunk. The trick is to cultivate and ask for them. As I wind up a consulting project or I finish a speaking gig, I always ask my clients to think of anyone that might also benefit from my services. In addition to clients, professionals with synergistic businesses serve as sources of referrals. Ask yourself “Who else works with my ideal customer?” Those relationships need to be cultivated. And you need to serve as a source of referrals for them, as well.

More “face time”: Networking and old-fashioned one-on-one dialog with prospects opens doors and can lead to newfound opportunities. If you’re an introvert, I know how challenging this can be. But your business depends on it. Worst case; hire someone who’s good at this.

My key points for today:

1. Don’t’ put all your eggs in one basket. You need to have a combination of programs and media working for you.

2. Find ways that are appropriate to your business (and your skills!) to build your relationship and credibility with prospects.

Pat Price has worked with numerous clients to generate more business and boost their marketing effectiveness. She is a professional speaker and president of The Price Group, Inc, a full-service marketing firm serving small to mid-sized organizations. To receive Pat’s free Marketing Tips! newsletter, go to www.PatPriceSpeaks.com/resources.php . She can be reached at 630.717.8332 or through her website at www.patpricespeaks.com.

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