Start-up companies start out small. That’s the way every business works. So how do you build awareness for your brand when all of your staff could carpool to work in the same car? Many start-up companies don’t have the funds to hire a firm or designated employee to do its public relations work. Most employees will need take on multiple job responsibilities in the early stages of a business and that’s exactly what Scott Houghton has done for Higher Plain as he’s worked to find and build relationships with clients. His recent experiences and can provide a few insights into how some simple public relations steps can help grow your up-and-coming business.
What is Higher Plain?
Houghton has been the marketing director for the sales coaching company Higher Plain, for two months, the exact amount of time the company has been in business. The company was established by his father, who has spent the majority of his career as a salesman.
“Essentially what we are, is a sales company,” Houghton said. “We focus on four main things: sales coaching, sales mentoring, sales consulting and sales recruiting.”
The company’s programs are based on a sales system called the Griffin Hill Integrity Sales System. The use of this system has placed the company in higher esteem among colleagues and competitors.
“It’s widely used throughout the selling industry,” Houghton said. “Domo uses it. Yesco uses it. Reagan uses it. It’s a very proven formula.”
The company almost solely focuses on business to business transactions, but there has already been a sizeable amount of interest from local companies.
“The response has been really good. A lot bigger than I was expecting,” Houghton said.
So what has Higher Plain been doing to attain clients during the very early stages of growth? Houghton has learned a few key lessons as he has built awareness for the growing business.
Set up an online presence
“At the very beginning, it was real stressful; I had no idea and no vision about what to do,” Scott said. “Essentially what I had to do was just go for it and start trying things.”
Houghton started out by developing a website and social media pages for the company. It turns out these were more important than Houghton suspected. He assumed that early on most deals would end up resulting from of word of mouth, but that hasn’t been the case as inquiries about Higher Plain have been piling up on the company’s website and social media platforms.
“As of right now, it’s through social media we get most of our stuff,” Houghton said. “Every time I talk to clients I ask them how they heard about us. Most of them [hear about us] through Facebook and LinkedIn.”
Social media can be a cheap, effective way to get your name out there. But once your name is out there, what kind of message are you sending clients through these channels? How do you gain their trust?
Engage with customers
“If an entrepreneur is truly engaged in conversation, then you’ll learn the language of your customer,” said Forbes contributor Eric Wagner.
Scott spends many hours personally talking with current and potential clients. As he has spent his time learning the language of Higher Plain’s customers, he has grown to understand what characteristics its clients are looking for in a sales coaching company.
“The biggest part in sales is creating that relationship with the customer,” Houghton said. “A real strong value of our family is to make sure you’re yourself no matter what position you’re in. We want to make sure people understand that we’re fun guys. We love having fun, we love joking around, but at the same time … we’re successful, we’re intelligent and we have the skills that are necessary to help the companies.”
Share your story
Forbes contributor Sharon Michaels encourages all small business owners to “develop a heartfelt story that speaks to why you are in business.”
It’s all about family for Higher Plain. Houghton, his brother and father are currently the only employees of the company, but his family dynamic could end up being incredibly beneficial. Many people are drawn to family-run companies like the Houghton’s, especially if they’re in business for the right reasons
Houghton’s father, Lee, started the business as a way to share and market his sales experience with others. But he has also used it as a way to provide opportunities for his sons.
Look for mutually beneficial opportunities
Higher Plain recently reached a deal with Orange Soda Marketing. Besides paying Higher Plain for its coaching and recruiting services, the organization has been managing search engine optimization for Higher Plain as well as training Houghton in SEO techniques. This exchange of services is a fantastic example of building a trusting, mutually beneficial relationship.
Keep it simple
While Higher Plain might not have the number of resources or employees larger companies possess, simple, authentic tactics have helped the company to grow and develop. By presenting an honest look into Higher Plain and its employees, businesses have been drawn to its services and story. Nothing too fancy, but it’s getting the job done.