Tough Love February: You Gotta Put Yourself Out There


Fortune has a fickle heart and a short memory. – Chinese proverb

As the first Tough Love of the Lunar New Year, this proverb seemed especially appropriate.

Ever had the experience where you’ve been within earshot of friends, networking associates, or acquaintances (or, heck, even past customers!) and overheard them talk about a recent purchase or service and thought, “Hey, my business does that! So-and-so knows this! Why didn’t they ask me?”

Well, here’s the tough love: if you’re not putting your business or organization out there, you have to accept some responsibility that you were not the one they called. You gotta put yourself out there!

The days when you could do good work, hang out your shingle, get a listing in the local phonebook, and hand out your business card are all but gone. Today there’s significant competition for people’s attention, and while it’s a challenge to remain top-of-mind, it’s also a necessity because, like fortune, people have fickle hearts and short memories.

You have to keep reminding people that you’re around, even if you think they’re already sufficiently aware of your business. (There’s pretty much no chance that people are “over-aware” of your business.)

It’s not your customers’ job to get you more business and while it’s nice when it happens, it’s not reliable or consistent. No matter how much your current or past customers love you, or how your business has succeeded as “word of mouth” don’t you think you’re leaving an awful lot of your future business in the hands of someone whose focus isn’t on your business?

It’s your own responsibility to get out there and persuade people that they should come to you first. You have to be where people are looking and where people will see you.

You have to beat fortune at its own game.

Today that means that your website (which you have, right?) has to have successful keyword searchability. If you have a lot of competition in your field, you may have to include paid search in your advertising campaign. If you have a physical location, you want to be confident that your business shows up on common map software and is easy to find. If you are a service, you had better be checking online review sites because that’s where people go to look. You might find a place in social media. While the days of people just seeing your page are ending, Facebook advertising offers opportunities for highly targeted ad placements which you only pay for when people click on your ads, reaching the right people with the most effective return on your investment.

You may have even more success if you decide to go where your target audiences are. If you find out your crowd hangs out on Instagram or Twitter, you may want to focus your efforts on impressing folks there with inspirational images or pithy comments. You might reach them with a paid bumper on popular YouTube videos.  Your audience may be reminded of you when they see your name on the back of the local summer baseball team jerseys. Maybe a vehicle would benefit from a colorful, branded wrap that can be seen around town.

There are many, many places that you can put yourself out there (and if you need a little help figuring out where to be, here we are!)

However, you can also turn fortune to your advantage! As it happens, every other business is subject to the same fickle hearts and short memories. By being the one looking ahead, planning, and putting yourself out there, you’ll find the road to your fortune!