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Stop asking your friends to support your business

We all hear this so much...

“My friends don’t support me,” or “friends and family always want discounts.”

Here is a breakdown of what you are really saying when you utter (or post) such thankless sentiments, and a list of the top reasons NOT to rely on your family and friends to support your business.

What you’re saying:

*queue smallest violin background music*

“My friends don’t support me,” or,

“My family/friends don’t share my posts but they share others.”

What that really means:

You blame your lack of business success on their lack of support of your goal, not on your own ability to strategize and identify your target market and develop an effective advertising plan.

That’s a lot of unnecessary pressure to put on the people who care about you the most, and who probably never asked to be on your company’s marketing team.

If you find yourself upset that your favorite uncle didn’t share your beautiful new hair salon’s Facebook page once, but you see him commenting and sharing posts from some random person’s page about motorcycles everyday, this is an indication that your intentions and expectations were misguided from the beginning. You may not share business goals with your uncle, and you need to find peace with that in order to find real solutions to your business growth and promotional challenges.

We often hear this complaint about lack of support from new entrepreneurs. The business owners actually want, ask, and borderline demand that their close friends and family post business promotions on their personal social media accounts... and get this…for free!

If you are fortunate to have that kind of inner circle support, that’s awesome! However, “amount and frequency of best friend posts” is not a realistic metric you should use to measure the success of your marketing efforts.

A forced or guilted promotion is far less powerful than a voluntary one. Your uncle is more likely to share about your business if you do not ask, and he shares on his own volition. We tend to share things in which we see value.

We are not saying that your product is not valuable. What we are saying is, it may not be of any use or value to your uncle’s social media friends and followers.

Let’s say you are the best hair stylist in your region. You’ve been paid top dollar to style celebrity hair. Your skills and quality of service are unquestionable.

If your friends’ and families’ social audiences do not find personal value in hair salon services, they may not feel inclined to share your business with them.

Yes, your products and services are unmatched!

Yes, they add extra moisture and extra hold!

No, they are not important or valuable to your bald uncles or brothers!

It may even seem awkward or off-putting to your bald, motorcycle enthusiast uncle’s (mainly bald or uninterested) social media followers to see him randomly post about your new salon. He and his high school friends and meet-up buddies are into engine revs, not curl definition.

Even if your bald uncle did post about your new hair salon, considering his audience, ponder how many qualified leads his post would actually generate…

Probably not many.

Top reasons NOT to rely on your family and friends for support

Your family may not be your target audience

If you sell anything from water bottles to hair bundles, there are millions of people to whom you can, and should, promote your products. When we approach our families and friends as our customers, we are automatically limiting and making false assumptions about our audience. There are over 8 billion people on the planet and limiting promotional outreach to your 1,000 friends and relatives is limiting your sales and profit potential.

Your family and friends view you as family or friend, not entrepreneur

The people closest to you have a view of you. They know you well and have probably known you for a long time. They knew you “pre-business venture,” meaning, they may not see the “Business You” yet. If you want to be a doctor, you go to schools that teach you how to be a doctor, you take classes from other doctors, you then go to work with other doctors. You utilize the processes, communities, and resources specifically catered to thriving in that field. You finally appear as a doctor amongst your inner circle, and they likely respect you as a professional in your field, because they respect the process that got you there.

If you want to sell products, you will have to appear to your friends as a product seller, not as a friend who sells products. If your friends are interested in your products, they may be part of your target audience. If not, be okay with the fact that they are still friends, they still love you, they still believe in you, but maybe your product is not for them. Remember that their love and belief in you form your personal relationship, not your product-selling business relationship.

Only when these two types of relationships are properly separated, can they then properly mingle. Be a friend or family member when needed, and a business owner during business hours and in business context.

Prove your company to be solid and to be worthy of supporting. Your inner circle is more likely to share about your business when they recognize the value of the product or service you offer to the appropriate audience, and when they notice your dedication to your business by identifying and targeting the right people.

What’s wrong with family discounts?

You wouldn’t mind giving them discounts or free services if you were targeting the appropriate audience and bringing in consistent income. If you’d made $300,000 in your first month or year, why not give your sister and her friend a free widget? They are your “friends and family,” right? Do they not deserve the benefits of knowing the creator of this fabulous widget?

Being too rigid about offering discounts or free services is damaging to personal relationships, Now your closest college roommate feels like you see them as more of a consumer than a trusted friend. This can be more detrimental than beneficial to your business endeavors in the future. Let’s say your business does become successful and granting discounts is no financial burden to you anymore. Perhaps those friends whom you would have relied on for intangible support (love, care, concern, etc.) would feel comfortable continuing to be there for you in that way, had you not shamed them for not sharing your Instagram posts in the beginning.

If friends and family do decide to support and buy from you, be sure to add extras, possibly a future discount code or even a genuine thank you card. These simple gestures will guarantee the next topic , word of mouth promotion, will be done voluntarily any time they come across someone who may benefit from your services and products.

Word of mouth promotion can be more effective

The best advertising often comes from what you do not see!

While marketing on social media is visible to wider audiences and easier for business owners to control, many of the tactics we see being used on social media are a bit too pushy for our taste. In fact, the aggression of social media marketing has recently become a floor debate in Congress, due to complaints from users of being overly marketed to while using social platforms.

Imagine your best friend Carla is drinking at a happy hour. A stranger compliments Carla’s hair, and Carla eagerly tells the stranger about her extraordinary stylist and how she only buys the products her stylist recommends from the salon. The stranger, just as eager now, is asking for a link to buy the delicious-smelling hair products, or at least a website and phone number to be able to contact the stylist or salon.

Imagine the stylist is you and the salon is the one you just opened. (True story from a client)

This is a sale and a win from family! The best part is - you don’t have to bother your bald uncle about posting your BOGO sale every week, and you still get the new Instagram follower, at least one new excited client, and the immediate product sale.

When using word of mouth techniques, most people are vouching for you wholeheartedly. They feel partially accountable for their recommendation, and trust that you will provide the product or service that will live up to their high remarks. Word of mouth marketing is a personal stamp of approval for you and your business.

Now re-read this piece and replace “hair salon” with your business, and “bald uncle” with anyone you call a close friend or relative. The next time you feel like complaining about lack of support or unfriending everyone who didn’t share your last YouTube video, share this blog instead.