Marketing on a Budget: Sell yourself, not your product

Now, before you all dash out this evening in thick make-up, short skirts and red stilettos in search of Wayne Rooney, I should make it absolutely clear that when I say, “sell yourself”, I mean sell your personality and verve. Not your body (especially if your name’s Colin and you live in Wolverhampton).
It’s no secret that people do business with people they like. People they trust. So you can pitch your company as purveyors of the finest quality products, and you can spend thousands on a fancypants website. But, ultimately, if your customers don’t like you, or they like your competitor more, they will not buy from you.
Fortunately, thanks in no small part to the meteoric rise of social media, it is now easier than ever to sell ‘Brand Me’. 
In the old days you would have to rely on networking events and industry dinners to meet potential customers and get to know them. It could take years to build and nurture a reputation. Nowadays, it’s as easy as setting up a Twitter account, having a brand presence on Facebook and ‘joining in’.
The latest social media channels mean you can quickly establish yourself, parallel to your business, within your industry. A platform like Twitter, for example, allows you to meet and engage with potential clients, and let them get to know you; the person is behind the business. This can be invaluable, and it is an excellent way to gain a decent foothold in a busy market.
There are few set rules when ‘selling yourself’, but it is wise to be honest. True to your self. If not, you will soon get caught out, and damage not only your personal reputation, but your business, too.
There are myriad examples of companies that allow a key player in their business to leverage his/her wit, character and personality to sell their wares, but perhaps none so lucid, entertaining, and just plain wacky as LINGsCARS.
Car leasing is an extremely competitive arena, with hundreds of established companies fighting for your business, and, because each firm’s deals are dictated by their finance partners and the car manufacturers, whose products they repackage and sell, they have very little (if any) room to manoeuvre when it comes to price. 
Knowing this, Ling Valentine, a lively lady of Dragons’ Den fame, made a conscious decision to stand out from the crowd. Her bold, eccentric, and deliberately queasy website sells her anomalous character and, if nothing else, is instantly memorable. Some will hate it. Others, and there are plenty of them because business is booming, lap it up and applaud her for being different.
If her award-winning website were not Ling-tastic enough, Valentine has also embraced the world of social media, and can often be found venting her spleen (no one is safe) to over a thousand followers – potential customers don’t forget – on Twitter.
Admittedly, Ling Valentine is unique. That said, you do not have to go to such extremes to create a successful brand that is built, fundamentally, around your own personality. Self-help author and Managing Director of 4Networking, Brad Burton, is another fine example of an individual that sells himself, and, in doing so, sells his business in unison, by default (www.bradburton.biz). 
So, in summary then: if you’re not doing so already, it’s time to sell yourself. Target your customers and get to know them personally. At the same time, relax, and let them get to know you. Then watch as your sales, not your marketing budget, shoots up. 
Because by far the best thing about ‘selling yourself’ is that it’s free. Adding an ‘About Us’ or ‘Meet the Team’ section to your website can be done for very little outlay, and opening a Twitter and/or Facebook account will cost you nothing but time. 
And therein lies the serious investment: time. Promoting yourself will take time and energy. But, alas, as Brad Burton himself would say, if you “Get Off Your Arse” and do it, the fruits of you labour will be ripe to harvest sooner than you might think.
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