3 Simple Techniques to Getting Your Message Seen, Heard and Out There into The World

image of vintage texas map

On the snowy, northeastern Christmas of my 11th year, our parents gathered all five kids around the kitchen table to deliver the news.

We were moving to San Antonio, Texas.

I was devastated. Texas? I imagined what our new home would look like.

We’d be miles from any neighbors — who all walked straight off the “Hee Haw” set — with a dusty, rock-filled front yard punctuated by the occasional tumbleweed rolling by.

If only I had access to the Internet back in those days, I wouldn’t have been terrified at all by the silly stereotypes I believed to be true.

Our customers are terrified, too. They’re operating based on stereotypes, fears, and misconceptions.

But every day, the Internet makes it easier to inform, educate, and connect with them.

Their false assumptions don’t stand a chance when you use these three techniques to get your message out and engage with your prospects.

1. Showcase your product

Web video is ideal for showing exactly how your product works, and why it’s the best on the market.

One company that does this well is OtterBox, whose YouTube channel features lighthearted product demos and user-submitted stories that show customers putting OtterBox technology cases to the test.

Your web video doesn’t have to be fancy. It’s more important to:

  • Take the time to develop a compelling story
  • Write a script: don’t wing it
  • Edit carefully so your video comes in under three minutes: bonus points if it’s under two

If you sell a service, you can still use web video to make your offerings come to life. Interview customers who’ve gotten good results. Show all the benefits of your service by filming before and after videos. And build interest by aiming your camera at the end result, and showing prospects what they can expect.

2. Share your reality

People enjoy doing business with actual people, not faceless corporations.

Show prospects you’re just like them by sharing a little about yourself on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, your blog, and your email newsletter.

Keep it light, tie it in with a topic you know your audience is interested in, and turn it around and talk about them the first chance you get.

If your business is large, you can make your company more approachable by allowing employees to share personal details on your website or company blog.

Let them post photos, share their hobbies, or post short videos that show them outside of work.

Any time you share some of your own reality, your two-dimensional Internet presence becomes more three dimensional, and that makes your company — and its offerings — more appealing to prospects.

3. Shatter your stereotypes

You may be in a business that people tend to stereotype:

  • All graphic designers are flaky, artsy types who can’t make their deadlines
  • All engineers are nerdy and use pocket protectors
  • All web developers spend long days in windowless rooms, and don’t know how to hold a conversation
  • All writers are broke and have no business sense
  • All accountants think about is numbers

Of course, none of these clichés are true.

If your business is typecast a certain way, accept it and set the record straight online.

  • If you’re a graphic designer, post an infographic of how often you met or exceeded your clients’ deadlines
  • If you own an engineering firm, post photos of the cool hobbies your employees spend time on outside of work
  • If you’re a web developer, host a pool party and invite your best clients, then post a video on your website
  • If you’re a writer, blog about how you made money with just your keyboard and your good business sense
  • If you’re an accountant, post your music playlist on your Google+ profile

Showing your prospects how those tired clichés won’t work for you and your company is an excellent way to make your business memorable.

Get more customers

It turns out I loved living in Texas — especially after my ears got used to the dialect — and I made many friends I’m still in contact with.

The experience made me who I am today, and I’m grateful for it.

When we ask our prospects to go beyond their ingrained stereotypes, we encourage them to grow and stretch as human beings.

It turns out that’s good for them, and it’s good for your business, too.

About the Author: Pamela Wilson helps small businesses grow with great design and marketing at Big Brand System. Learn the basics with her free Marketing Toolkit E-course. Connect with her on Twitter.

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  1. Great reminders.

    I’ve seen a lot of folks doing it so BORING lately. They create their new biz and setup a Facebook page. And then they say, “Like my page about ” and then that’s the end of it.

    Or BORING updates about the cakes they make, the plumbing jobs they are on, or the photos they take.

    They really need to blow people out od the water with compelling content in order to gain REAL likes.

    • There’s such a large volume of information out there, Matt. Shattering stereotypes can work to make your company stand out from the crowd.

    • I agree with you Matt, if you’re not being a “purple cow” then you’re just….well, a cow. And that’s pretty BORING.

      I think if companies actually put some time into thinking about being more creative or like Pamela said, allowing their employees to do post photos or share some of their reality, it will humanize these businesses and make them more interesting.

      I love the stories about cdbaby on Youtube by actual customers. They’re a great example.

    • I agree, but it can be tough for a small business to manage those things when so much time might be spent on the actual goings on of the business itself.

      • That’s the ultimate small business owner’s dilemma, isn’t it?

        It’s tough, but the good news is that it’s so much easier to get your message out to millions compared to 15-20 years ago. I think it’s worth the effort.

  2. Great tips on video marketing. Interviewing people who have had a good experience at your business is crucial.

  3. Fab article Pam – and I love the specific tips you give for shattering those stereotypes. Thank God I’m in the writer category and not an accountant – I don’t think Goole + could handle my music playlist. From Bonnie Tyler to Beefheart, it’d probably get me banned :-)

  4. Pamela,

    You really sum up social media well.

    I think social media is no different than offline socializing.

    Key here is to keep it as natural as possible. People like to do business with humans.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  5. Hi Pamela, I agree about the video length. If it’s too long I forget why I started watching it!
    Some videos can get away with being unscripted if the person is super confident and can edit out all the “umms” and “ars”, but most of them need a script. Scott Stratten has a great tip in UnMarketing – get someone to hold the words up on a card so you look up and not look down at the screen whilst you are on camera.

    Glad you love your new home :)

    • Ah, like a cue card! I’ll bet it’s helpful to have a person to look at rather than just a camera, too.

    • That is a great tip about cue cards Sarah! I have a tendency to wing it a little on my videos and who doesn’t love a good “umm” or “ars” thrown in every once in awhile :) But when I really want to make sure I hit all the points I have a white board that I put up just behind the camera with everything written out. Video is fantastic.

      Thanks for the great article Pamela!

      • Love the idea of a white board. And if anyone can wing it, it’s Grandma Mary!

      • I must admit I’m a winger at video too. I started by writing big notes on papers but I did a terrible job keeping the flow. Now I use the “memorize-and-forget” algorithm. Memorize it just long enough to record the video, then forget it.

        I might try the whiteboard though. Sounds like a better system and it might help me to keep my videos shorter. I must admit mine are usually longer than 3 minutes if I’m explaining something technical, especially my screen captures. Should I make shorter videos and more of them, instead?

        p.s.
        I laughed out loud at the Hee Haw reference.

  6. Re: “Show prospects you’re just like them by sharing a little about yourself.”

    The sooner you make that connection, the better! For me, I try and do that through networks like Twitter (though I think I push it sometimes, heh). And I also definitely do it through email. I’m always responsive with new subscribers, I’m engaged, and I’m very personable. I try to write my newsletters in a very conversational tone and I think people appreciate that.

    As for videos, I started strong at the beginning of the year, but it’s time to step it up again so thanks for the reminder!

    • Ricardo, I hear you.

      I finally invested in a better video camera recently and I’m about to step it up, too.

      Even with the very basic camera I had before, people really responded to the videos I shared. It makes a connection like no other media does.

      • We all know images help engage readers, but I once read that including an image featuring a person — most specifically, a close up involving their eyes — is a good way to attract the attention of your reader, so it only makes sense that video does the same … only more. Great point there, Pamela.

        Taking it a bit further, I think streaming video is an even more engaging form of the medium, because it provides immediate connection and interaction that you simply don’t get when watching a video that was recorded. Not only is it interesting to connect with someone thousands of miles away (or even right down the street), but it’s also a great way for publishers to increase their influence by creating that connection — at least that’s what I’ve felt as a viewer watching some of my favorite publishers.

        • We’re wired to respond to the gaze of another human being: that’s why all those magazine covers have models looking right at you.

          I agree with you about streaming video, too. The only drawback is that viewers can get annoyed when technical difficulties interfere. Have you experienced that, Chris?

  7. Pam,

    You’re such a tease! ‘I finally invested in a better video camera recently…’

    Please share the details of your new toy, with the rest of us.

    Especially since you begin your article with your web video suggestion.

    Connie

    • Connie, I got a Canon Vixia HF R200.

      It’s not their top-of-the-line model, but it has the all-important swivel viewfinder. I got a little tired of filming videos with my Kodak Zi8 that looked great … except the top of my head was cut off! Now I’ll be able to center the image before I press start. :-)

  8. Hey Pamela,
    I fall under the “writers category” and the topic of my next blog-post (after I am done with the current series of 6 posts on the basics of “How to Become a Good Writer”) will be “How I made money with just My keyboard and good business sense.” Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. Great Article!
    You learn something new everyday..

  10. Pam,

    It didn’t help that all we had seen of Texas before the big announcement was Amarillo. The Texas Hill Country was much greener.

    Thanks for the tips.

    Doug

  11. This is a really nice post… I love the last one! Shatter stereotypes… I guess that is what gives you an edge to your competitors…

    • Breaking through stereotypes is a great way to make your company memorable, don’t you think? You’re asking prospects to change the way they think about your business, and that little cognitive leap cements your brand in their minds.

  12. Nice job Pamela.
    I like “Shattering Stereotypes” idea. If there is an obstacle that could cause someone to not do business with you, bring it up.
    My rule for obstacles is either you need your prospect to overcome it, or move on. The reality is that only your prospect can truly overcome the obstacle.
    We can help them discover it may not be the obstacle they thought it was originally.
    Thanks for sharing,
    AJ

  13. Recording some of clients give video testimonials could be a small hassle but would go a LONG way for attracting new business.

    Thanks for reminding us what we should be doing.

    Mike
    Utah SEO

  14. Great post.

    Three years ago I moved from Los Angeles to East Texas, so your analogy REALLY hit home. =)

    Jennifer

  15. ABSOLUTELY.

    And I wasn’t entirely wrong!

    I’m in a very rural area (for now) & it’s actually fascinating. Totally different culture than what I’m used to. The people are very hospitable and nice. Some of the small businesses (e.g., coffee shops, diners) are charming. The pace of life is slower. The conversations are DIFFERENT.

    It’s fun stuff to observe & also participate in.

    But I miss Los Angeles so much sometimes. :)

  16. Hi and great article.
    I am fat and balding with jam jars for glasses. I am a hermit that sits on the computer for days on end…this is a stereotype of an SEO specialist. Just joking

    I live in the most isolated capital city in the world…Perth Western Australia and I also provide SEO to a bunch of folks who wonder what SEO really is. In Western Australia we are a bit behind the times although stereo types still prevail here and being an SEO specialist I am always trying to find ways to re-assure my potential clients on the benefits of SEO for their business. There are many myths about SEO that people hang on to which becomes the stereotypes persona.

    • I’m giggling at your description!

      Those stereotypes can be a great opportunity to make your business memorable, don’t you think?

      • I think breaking down stereotypes is a great way to involve your potential customers in your services and give a human or personal touch to a communication strategy. Due to the economic reality of communicating online we are not doing as much face to face networking to reach out customers. Personally I still prefer the face to face approach but I also communicate online in detail about what I offer and how my services can help a business. Using humor and images to gain attention is also a great way to break down barriers and change peoples perceptions.

        Regards
        Paul

  17. Great article Pamela.

    I laughed when I read about your Texas thoughts and experience, because we had the same thoughts when we moved to Alice Springs in Australia. It turned out it was an amazing 2 years there.

    Your “Shattering Stereotypes” idea has made me rethink a few things, so thank-you.

    Cheers
    Ian McConnell

    • Good to hear, Ian. Thank you!

      I find it fascinating that it’s often the places we have the lowest expectations for that end up being the most interesting places to live.

  18. “If you’re a web developer, host a pool party and invite your best clients, then post a video on your website”

    Haha! Be *really* careful with that one… ;)

  19. video of real customers is a good social proof tool for sure +1

  20. Video is powerful and something we plan to utilize heavily…hopefully that helps us to stand out. Great post thx for sharing!

  21. You’re stereotype of San Antonio isn’t so far off right now, regarding the yards. There is no grass and even the tumbleweeds have died! My yard looks more and more like a desert each day.

  22. Pam,
    We have tried videos and podcasts about our industry and even tweets but is it a good idea to have short bio videos of employees and their personal interests?

    • You have space on your site under the “Company Story” tab: why not try talking more about the people behind the product, even if it’s just text and photos? That’s an easy way to dip your toes in the water without committing to video.

  23. I am currently responsible for online marketing of a German live chat community. Me and my colleges are fighting hard every day against stereotypes. Our niche sector does not fall into “porn”, we actually do not show any nudity on non-member pages but nevertheless do not qualify for adwords (in Germany) nor for Facebook ads (worldwide).

  24. Share your reality means share effective content.
    thanks for sharing

  25. Great reminders on the importance of marketing. Marketing is simply networking and socializing. The more you market or socialize, the more your message will be heard and received – which could in turn yield favorable results for your business venture.