By Kelle Clarke
“Failing to toot your horn — with the right people, in the right way, and at the right time — doesn’t serve anyone,” writes Maggie Warrell in her book, Stop Playing Safe. Just as actors smile their way through press junkets, real estate agents plaster their faces on bus benches, and accident lawyers run daytime commercials with catchy jingles, Notary entrepreneurs must find creative ways to leave a lasting impression. The key is finding the balance of flaunting your skills without coming across as overly cocky, or even annoying.
People don’t always need notarizations, but when they do, you want them to remember your name. Here are some tips from veteran Notaries and expert self-promoters on how to creatively promote yourself and your business.
Talk To Strangers: Networking is crucial for Colorado Notary and small business owner Julie Brickley, who travels to hospitals, nursing homes, and hospices, where she hands out cards and asks to be included on contact lists for those in need of a Notary. She uses every signing as a way to introduce herself to others, including nurses, health practitioners, and social workers. Her advice is to use everyday events — signing appointments, grocery store checkout lines, business elevators, networking luncheons, or PTA meetings — as an opportunity to introduce yourself and your services, as you never know when someone might need you.
Be A Walking Billboard: Emblazoning your t-shirt, business card, ballpoint pen, and even your car with your business name, message, and contact information can be a great way to draw new business — just ask this guy, with a giant plexiglass banana on his roof. That might be a bit overboard, but California Notary and owner of “At Your Service Mobile Notary” Laura Biewer has scored business through the use of the oversized magnetic ads decorating her vehicle. Even a simple bumper sticker or customized license plate frame can attract callers. Consider investing in a memorable and useful “leave behind” item, such as a magnetic calendar, a sticky note pad, or even a mouse pad containing your name, logo and phone number.
Toot Someone Else’s Horn: It may surprise you, but leadership coach and Forbes magazine contributor Margie Warrell recommends recognizing the accomplishments of colleagues as a way to subtly highlight your own. For Notaries, this could mean recommending another quality Notary or signing agent in your area, should you be unable to make an appointment, thereby accomplishing two important tasks. One, you help solve the problem of your client, and two, you strengthen the positive reciprocal relationship with a fellow Notary who is likely to send you work in return.
Nominate Yourself: Personal productivity expert and keynote speaker Peggy Duncan recommends nominating yourself for relevant industry awards, which you can advertise on your business cards, website, and social media platforms. For example, do you have what it takes to be the next NNA Notary of the Year? Nominations for 2014 Notary of the Year will be accepted through December 31, 2013.
Spam Potential Clients: Junk mail, even electronic, does little to inspire warm, fuzzy feelings. In fact, inundating a client’s inbox can quickly make enemies. Make sure all correspondence carries some kind of value, such as forwarding a relevant article as a way to both advertise your service and keep colleagues abreast of important industry news.
Try To Do Everything All At Once: Devoting all of your resources — time, energy, finances — to self-promotion can quickly backfire. Be selective, choose a couple methods, and execute them well. To help figure out which techniques are working best, Julie Brickley recommends asking clients where they heard about your services, so you can track your marketing efforts and invest in the most effective strategies.
Kelle Clarke is a Contributing Editor with the National Notary Association.