A business owner can create content to send a message directly to their intended audience for little or no cost. Several individuals and businesses upload social posts, videos, articles, and images every day via multiple channels. All too often the messages get lost, ignored or deemed as “noise” or “clutter.”
As a someone who works with artists and creative businesses whose goals are to sell artwork, secure a project contract, obtain a commission or placement in a gallery, I see the importance of creating content and promoting their creative or business authentically using the appropriate channels for their audience. The message must “cut through the noise” without sounding desperate or forced. When promoting his work, Miggs Burroughs, a graphic designer and illustrator based in Westport, Connecticut “chooses to whisper when everyone else is shouting.”
When planning a public relations, marketing, or sales strategy, managers, business owners and entrepreneurs need to ask “why?” before diving in. The other question is what does business visibility mean to them and how will it help their business generate revenue, establish brand recognition, and earn a solid reputation in their industry or field? I polled multiple professionals on LinkedIn, Fairygodboss, and Girlboss for accounts on their struggles and the value they placed on business visibility.
Lorene De Souza, an independent travel agent of Plus One Travel, who “turned [her] traveling [growing up in a military family] into a business [to] help others achieve their bucket list/dream travel ideas and make them a reality.”
De Souza explains, “[Business] Visibility to me means putting oneself in front of the ideal customer through ads, publications, media, etc. It is important to have exposure so that people can see your product/service. Some may not know of you or know that the service you provide can help them if you don’t.”
“The obstacles I am currently facing is lack of engagement. I get followers and likes, but no feedback or follow through. I am constantly learning new techniques and skills to help with this pitfall.”
As a freelancer and a volunteer on non-profit boards, I experience the same obstacles. Whether the organization is a non-profit or for-profit business, small or large, we invest our time and money to craft our message based on our mission, values, benefits offered to our clients. We carefully select the media channels used to deliver the message. The result? Little or no engagement or engagement that does not funnel into a sale or even a warm lead. So we retreat or “go back to the drawing board” to try another method, channel or technique in hopes that “something will stick”.
For this year’s GivingTuesday I was asked to create the public relation and communications strategy for a Scholarship America Affiliate, Stamford Dollars for Scholars to raise money for the organization’s first crowd-funded scholarship the Power of One, an $1,000 scholarship awarded to a graduating High School senior in 2020 who will become the first generation in their immediate family to pursue higher education. Long before midnight, the organization had just crossed the $1,000 threshold. Creating the e-mails, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter posts, creating imagery showcasing our wonderful volunteers, business sponsors, donors, in addition to collecting testimonials from the 2019 scholarship recipients was all crammed into two weeks prior to GivingTuesday.
Although it seemed like a tremendous effort with little manpower, the fundraising goal was achieved. At our planning meetings, I refused to “spew content” and create “noise” that would alienate our supporters and cause them to unsubscribe or unfollow us. SD4S was noticed and received donations because we were infusing gratitude for our corporate supporters and volunteers into our messages, and inserting direct testimonials from the students of how the scholarships helped them achieve their dreams.
I will also address business visibility relating to corporate culture. Jackie Ruka, a leadership consultant, author and speaker notes the that there is a difference between visibility of the business as its own entity and the company culture:
“There is visibility in business and then there is visibility as a company culture. The two are very different. Visibility is transparency. Visibility in business with a mentoring/ leadership paradigm is an exceptional approach for any company willing to operate from a “we hope” to a “we will” team and organizational approach.”
There is difference between having a reputation for certain values or behaviors as an organization built by media coverage, public relations campaigns, and talent recruiting strategies in comparison to employees actually living these values. Companies that foster an environment for their employees to openly discuss and give feedback on how they are committed to act in accordance to the mission and shared values of the organization, encourage them to periodically evaluate their behaviors and businesses practices.
Another challenge with business visibility is that owners and managers do not have the opportunity to view their business from a potential client’s perspective. When it’s YOUR business, it is difficult to come to the realization that others in your city or town still are unaware you exist. Crystal Rhineberger a jewelry designer and fashion consultant describes her experience working at her friend’s family-owned and operated jewelry store:
“Oddly enough we are dealing with both literal business visibility, been on the location for 23 years, still have people (who have lived in our town for their whole lives) “just finding “ the place.
We are also dealing with business visibility that we can do more than just watch services and repair (we are a custom jewelry store and always have been) and are working on how to get people to notice us instead of driving so far to the competition.”
Rhineberger and the team are in the process of revamping their business website and collecting feedback to gain exposure and visibility. There is no quick-fix or single strategy. One cannot rely exclusively on a website or social media to maximize business visibility, although these are effective tools when properly implemented.
Natalie Dunbar, a UX content strategist discusses two elements of business visibility while working with clients at an ad agency with in-house digital services and design group and a large healthcare company:
“In both instances, visibility meant that our teams were consistent about educating our colleagues and business partners about what it is that we do (we aren’t all writers), why it is important, and how we complemented other strategy groups.”
Dunbar and her team had to communicate the benefits and value of services offered to her clients and why the benefits were important to the client. If providers are not consistent in relaying information to their clients, there is a disconnect and the clients don’t understand how the services they invested in are going to help them.
Besides her UX content strategist business, Dunbar is a yoga teacher to students of all “shapes, sizes and abilities.” When trying to work with various studios in the Los Angeles area, she expresses her challenges with being recognized by these venues as a yoga professional.
“On the flip side, as a yoga teacher who specializes in teaching accessible yoga to differently-abled bodies (all shapes, sizes and abilities) — and as a yogi of color — I have to maintain visibility through digital touch points like social media, my website and so on.”
“Most of the mainstream studios in my area (Greater Los Angeles) don’t employ teachers that look like me or teach like me.
I find it is a double-edged sword, in that I’ve found a niche for my teaching, but I haven’t found a studio that wants to add me to their roster”
She offers private instruction in her home studio. She explains, “Most of my clients find me online — hat tip to my content and SEO colleagues who have helped me learn how to be findable, and therefore, visible.”
Dunbar sets an example: when the mainstream or majority ignores your niche or underserves them, create your own channel and a welcoming environment to build, serve, and nurture the a loyal customer base.
Goals of business visibility can change. Helen Hanison, left her 20 year-plus career in global public relations to do more “aligning work” as “an executive coach seasoned professionals realign work they love with the life they want to lead.” She compares her new outlook with her previous concept from her prior role in public relations, “…with my old ‘hat’ on, I would have interpreted business visibility in terms of media metrics — column inches, brand mentions — all about achieving targets around key message outreach that amplifies whatever business offering or product my client(s) were touting to attract their customer base.”
Although Hansion declared she left her “…PR mission behind [to] help seasoned professionals who feel stuck at some sort of career crossroads make a plan realigning work they love with the life they wish they were living. Then act on it.”
After a career “pivot of [her] own, and a 2nd degree in psychology that shaped it, comes a whole new perspective about visibility in business.” Hanison is “driven by a different mission”. She “feels like using [her] superpowers for good” Her “commercial edges and marketing savvy are brought out in service of [her] clients’ needs and wants.” She states, “my visibility as an executive coach is dramatically different than it was when I operated safely behind the scenes.”
“Today my business is entwined with my story. The brand of thought partnership and accountability support I offer my client base feels more of a calling than a career and the metrics are around Mattering not media”.
-Helen Hanison, Executive Coach
When asked about Hanison’s obstacles with business visibility in terms of boundaries she responds: “I have had to overcome and make friends with the boundary I had lived by for nearly 20 years — to stay firmly behind the camera — if I was going to let the careerists I could help, know how to find me. It was as uncomfortable to me as showing up at University all over again as the very mature, mature student I was.”
Business visibility is necessary to for your potential clients to find you. For Hanison, the ‘why’ is the most important:
“…without that visibility, I wouldn’t find the people I know I can help and I know how much value I bring when I do. The ‘why’ of business visibility is everything and it’s this: how many people will I get to help?”
Hanison’s new relationship with the visibility of her business is helping clients find alignment and her enthusiasm to experiment with different communication channels, “I feel alive and aligned doing work I love, which hasn’t always been my narrative. I am always engaging with new routes to visibility — I have recently set up a group on Fairygodboss called Career Crossroads — but I call it engagement with ‘my people’ and my markers of success are the incredible client stories experience tells me evolve and grow when I have the opportunity to help someone shape their exit from the tough career crossroads we all must face from time to time.”
Business visibility is not determined by who posts most frequently on social media and their is no one-size-fits all approach. Business Visibility is about positioning your product, service etc. in a way that the intended audience will engage with you and become your customers. When your clients know about you, and see you as a resource and a trusted authority in your field, your business is truly visible. The relationship transcends transactional. You as the business owner, build a community.
I work with artists, museums and other creative professional who desire to form collaborative partnerships and gain business visibility. To learn more contact me.