Must-Have Marketing Tips to Boost Your Brand’s Visibility Now

It’s difficult to forget an encounter with Emida Roller.

She’s fearless about approaching people with her warm smile and shining personality that draws you right in. Before long, you’ll find yourself asking about her passion and what she does for a living (only to discover the two are one and the same).

The genius behind Emida Roller Productions, she’s turned her love of art into a thriving small business.

It’s not an exaggeration to say she’s mastered the art of the deal.

Luckily, she’s willing to share her must-have marketing tips to boost your brand’s visibility.

Artist Emida Roller works on an outdoor mural in a community.

Conquering the fear of connecting

Terrifying is a word some entrepreneurs and small business owners use to describe marketing themselves to others. If in-person networking events are part of the process, you can kick that terror up a notch.

Approaching perfect strangers and striking up a conversation doesn’t come naturally to many people. That’s OK, said Emida.

“You start small, you get more comfortable, and then you push yourself,” she said.

Emida recommends an effective strategy for coping with the anxiety that comes with convincing yourself to put yourself out there.

Pretend you’re an actor on stage. The networking event is a production and you’re the star. “You have to switch it on,” she said. “If you do it enough, you’ll get more comfortable.”

Another coping mechanism is to find yourself a networking buddy.

Her daughter is a wonderful artist. However, Emida said she struggles with the networking part of marketing. To quell her fears and give her a confidence boost, Emida goes to networking events with her daughter to serve as her personal cheerleader.

“Go with somebody,” she said. “You get that moral support and you’ll be less anxious if you’re talking in a group.”

If you’re new to in-person networking, Emida has one more trick up her sleeve. She suggests starting with a smaller event to break yourself in. Once you build up your confidence, then you can attend larger events more comfortably.

Networking strategies that stick

Every small business is different. Marketing strategies that produce sustainable growth for one brand might fall flat for another.

However, learning about different approaches can help you decide which approach resonates with your ideal customer to give you a starting point.

“Find people who are doing similar things – someone who is doing it better – and find out how they’re marketing and putting their names out there,” said Emida. “Most people want to share their techniques and help you if you just ask.”

When you go to community events or other in-person networking opportunities, go the extra mile to stand out in the crowd.

One of Emida’s best ideas for an upcoming conference she plans to attend in March is to make a jean jacket with a scannable QR code about her business on the back. Doing so shows off her artistic skills and makes learning about her business easy and entertaining. “Sometimes, networking and promoting yourself is boring,” she said. “You have to find a way to make it fun.”

Besides in-person networking events and community gatherings where she can introduce herself and spread the word about her services, Emida has found success in making valuable connections on Alignable.

An online referral network for small businesses, Alignable boasts more than 8 million small business and micro small business owners as members. Think of it as a virtual Chamber of Commerce. Its targeted approach and community-focused features help small business owners forge meaningful connections in their local or niche markets.

“Joining Alignable has been a great way to find people who need my services and whose services I can use,” she said. “One good thing about Alignable for me is there are a lot of marketing people there. I can tell my story better than anybody else, but there comes a point where I know I need help, and (Alignable) is a good place to get it.”

Artist Emida Roller stands outside a room in a building where she painted a mural to Charles Bailyn on the exterior wall.

Solving setbacks and other growth challenges

When Emida first started out, her business was called Wall Designs by Emida. She concentrated on creating unique wall art in the interior of homes and businesses. To promote her work, she sent letters to local building contractors introducing herself and offering to personalize the interior walls of their model homes with her unique designs.

“I was surprised because four of them took me up on my offer right away,” she said. It turned out to be a good marketing move. “You have 10,000 people walking through those homes in a 2-week period and that’s great exposure for my art.”

Eventually, she started getting enough work to keep her going as an independent artist. She also began doing outdoor murals, which required figuring out many things – including how to set up a scaffolding by herself.

“When you work by yourself, you have to tackle many challenges,” she said. Emida became so proficient at setting up a scaffolding alone that she had her daughter film the process. “Then, I uploaded it to my YouTube channel and shared how to do it with other people. I showed all the tricks I use by myself. Those videos have more views than the ones of my actual art stuff,” she said, laughing.

Today, her business name has evolved to reflect the full experience customers can expect from working with her. “I’d been thinking about a name that encompasses everything I do. I don’t just show up and paint a mural and go home. Now, I have a conversation about the theme, get ideas from the community on what should be in the mural, and involve them in the whole process,” she said. “My big thing is how I engage with the community. That’s part of my branding. I’m not just an artist. I’m a community engager.”

Her unique approach to community involvement earned Emida a lot of free press. Reporters would give her their numbers and ask her to call when she started her next project.

A 3-panel mural that shows a Black woman, a white dove, and a blue butterfly among flowers. The woman is tossing off her face mask.

Starting over again (and again)

One of the challenges Emida has faced with marketing her business involves her and her husband’s shared passion for moving to new places. The couple recently moved to Georgia after spending about 3 years in Connecticut.

Every time they move, Emida starts over again with marketing her brand.

Instead of getting frustrated, she finds ways to connect with her new community to spread the word about her business. She attended a town meeting and contributed to a discussion about creative ways to get people involved. In the process, she naturally worked in how her business brings communities together on an art project.

“Marketing is like a boulder rolling down a mossy hill,” she said. “The more you do, the more the ball rolls and gathers moss.”

Even though her challenge is unique, the lessons about how to solve it apply to any small business struggling to market itself.

Emida recommends looking for different places to spread your work and to do a good job when hired so those customers will keep recommending you to others.

“Every 6 months, reach out to former clients to thank them again and remind them you’re still doing the work if they know anyone who needs your services,” she said.

Keeping the pace (and peace)

One of the lessons Emida learned early on in her business was the value of having a solid contract before beginning work with a new client.

“I started out without (contracts), and I had problems,” she said. “Having a signed contract eliminates a lot of problems.”

Another struggle she encountered in the early days was second-guessing herself through the slow times. “I would wonder if I could sustain myself with my business model,” she said. “But I found ways to keep the flow by spreading out the work.”

Instead of trying to do 2 to 3 projects simultaneously, Emida staggered the start dates and rotated between large and small jobs to give herself breaks as needed.

Final words of marketing wisdom

Running a small business comes with a steep learning curve. Generating enough leads to turn a profit is one of the many lessons you’ll either pass or fail.  

Learning to embrace the challenges as opportunities and stepping outside your comfort zone to build a strong network are surefire methods that have helped Emida survive and thrive.

“Be prepared,” she said. “Know what you bring to the table and be willing to give a bit more than expected to leave a lasting impression. Be assertive, and you’ll close the deals.”

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