By Louise Burgers
This is a media guide to telling your story as an entrepreneur, and maximising the free online tools at your disposal to market your products or services.
Do you remember before the internet, how we heard about things? Obviously through the media – TV, radio, newspapers, magazines. But also through stories. Stories told by our grandmothers, by our mothers, by our elders. We heard them when we all met in the market to trade and share news, on our doorstep, in Church, at family gatherings, on public transport, at school – whenever we got together within our broader community.
That is why social media was created, for the same reason. So we could share information with groups of people in our community or with the same interests as us – except on a far larger scale, across the world, if we wanted to.
Instead of just handing out printed flyers to give publicity to our small business, or placing an advert in the local community newspaper, or announcing it on the bulletin board at your local supermarket, you can now digitally target your audience on Facebook in the location you serve; or those with similar interests on Instagram.
But no matter where you live, whether in an urban area where free Wi-Fi and a captive digital audience is available to you; or in a rural area where personal word-of-mouth recommendations matter more than a digital presence – what never changes is how you tell your story.
How you tell your story and the story of your business is as important as the quality of your product or service. It is part of the value chain you need to become a success.
As a writer, editor, and publisher, I have specialised for the last 25 years in business-to-business, trade journalism. I have written about industry news, economics, companies, business regulation, logistics, technology, retail, ecommerce, marketing, advertising, communications, media and, most importantly, people.
And what I know for sure: it is people who remain at the heart of business reporting. Because people give us that human angle that makes what we are reporting about real. By telling your story, and telling it well, you inspire other people to achieve their dreams, other entrepreneurs to launch their own business, make people believe in themselves.
Think about who has inspired you on your business journey and why. Where did you hear about them? What did you read about them? Where did you read it? Whether it is in a Forbes Africa or on CNBC Africa or in our local newspaper, or at a talk in your local community hall – the fact is that stories matter.
Your story and how you tell it, can promote you and your business, leading to business success. These are my tips in telling your story well:
- Be authentic and real. Tell your story from the heart – including the hard times. Everyone goes through hard times and times of self-doubt. If you are an entrepreneur, it will happen. It is important to include the rough bits, as how you overcame them and stayed strong can inspire someone else not to give up.
- Be transparent. Don’t hide anything, don’t lie, don’t make things up in order to make your story better. With social media these days, a reputation can be destroyed in minutes. There are no secrets anymore.
- It doesn’t matter if you speak or write well, what matters is your passion and self-belief. A passionate telling of your story, your dreams, how you overcame obstacles, what you hope to achieve, and how you achieved your success, is what matters.
- If you are asked to write a column or a blog to talk about your product and service and you are nervous about your writing, set yourself some questions, as a journalist would do, for example: ‘Describe your product or service’; ‘Tell us about your success’; ‘What makes your company unique’, and so on. Answering questions is easy.
- And when you get to tell your story, be it from a stage or in print, remember to speak with emotion, be authentic, tell the funny stories, give credit, honour those who helped you on your journey, and own your success, be proud.
Louise Burgers is a content strategist and writer on South African and African business news, for her own clients and media. She owns her own content agency, SOURCE, which has launched RetailingAfrica.com, for retailers and brands in South Africa and Africa.