Tooting Your Own Horn

by : C.J. Hayden

'If he who has a thing to sell Goes and whispers in a well, He won't be so apt to make the dollars As he who climbs a tree and hollers!' -- Anonymous

Every day in your business, something happens that others should know about. You give exceptional service to a client; you reach out to a new type of customer; you demonstrate your expertise on an important topic. Yet most of the time, the only people aware of these significant events are the individual you are speaking with and you.

We might chuckle at artists or performers who are waiting to be 'discovered,' but sometimes business owners are just as guilty of hanging back when there's boasting to be done. Below are some examples of occasions for informing the media, your clients, referral partners, and very importantly, POTENTIAL clients that you have done something special:

  • Winning an award or competition
  • Being elected or appointed to office in a professional or civic organization
  • Obtaining an important new client or contract
  • Giving noteworthy service to an existing client
  • Opening or relocating your office
  • Expanding to serve a new market
  • Offering a new product or service
  • Launching a new or redesigned web site
  • Publishing the first issue of a newsletter
  • Reporting an invention or discovery
  • Expressing a unique opinion on a topical subject
  • Being selected to speak at a major conference
  • Completing a survey or study
  • Having an article, white paper, or book published
  • Getting a mention in the news
  • Landing an interview on radio, TV, or a live chat

When any one of these events occurs, notify all your clients, prospects, and referral partners by letter or e-mail. Include a copy of any item referenced in your letter, or let readers know where they can learn more. For example, if you will be speaking at a conference, mail a copy of the program, or mention the conference web site.

It gives you extra credibility if the event you're reporting is also acknowledged by someone else. When you give great service to a client, ask for a testimonial letter. Then include the letter in mailings and your marketing kit.

Many of these developments are newsworthy enough to inform the media. Write a news release describing what has occurred and your opinion about it. If you win an award, describe how it made you feel. If you are elected to office, outline your goals for the organization. Include in your release a brief paragraph about your background.

Send your news release to your own trade press and all your local media outlets. If you are nationally known already, include national outlets as well. Follow up with a phone call to offer additional information and find out if they plan to run the item.

When you do appear in the news, no matter how small the mention, capitalize on it. Unless you are on the cover of a major publication or featured on national TV, don't expect a lot of people to contact you as a result of your appearance alone.

In addition to reprinting articles about you or by you for everyone on your mailing list, keep them on hand. Include them in your marketing kit for prospective clients, speaking engagements, and future media opportunities. Use them as handouts at trade shows. Frame them and hang them on the wall of your office. Post links or entire articles on your web site.

When you land a radio, TV, or live chat interview, let everyone on your mailing list know when you will be on. You'll probably get more business from telling people about it than you do from the program itself.