When Robert Herjavec wanted to start his own company, people discouraged him. They said he couldn’t do it. He had zero experience, he didn’t have a business degree and he knew nothing about running a business.
The headstrong Shark Tank star investor steamrolled ahead anyway. In 1990, he launched his first company, BRAK Systems, which he later sold to AT&T.
“I only knew that I loved what I do and how to work hard,” Herjavec told Entrepreneur. Today, Herjavec Group, his Toronto-based Internet security firm, has grown from three workers in 2003 to 220 employees strong, and it’s on pace to bank $150 million in revenue this year, according to the company.
Herjavec’s commitment to taking the risky entrepreneurial leap — despite the naysayers, and he had plenty of them — has more than paid off. So what if he didn’t have formal training? He also didn’t possess the needed marketing know-how, at least not at first and not all on his own. But that was fine by him.
“Like many entrepreneurs, we didn’t really know what to do at first,” he says. “As a startup, it’s almost overwhelming. I learned that’s where a third party comes in to help you. They take the marketing pressure off so you can do more of what you love to do — your business.”
Countless marketing agencies the world over aim to do just that. One such company is Deluxe Corporation. Herjavec announced a new partnership with the Shoreview, Minn.-based firm last week. Together, they unveiled a series of small-business marketing videos. The short “Behind the Business” vignettes feature the multi-millionaire celebrity entrepreneur alongside a few of the companies he’s invested in on Shark Tank.
The videos share tips on how to best market your startup. We picked Herjavec’s brain for a few, too. Here are his top five:
1. Target your customers where they hang out on social media.
Simply having several social-media accounts for your company isn’t enough. To fully leverage the potential for acquiring new customers on social media, you must also market to them where they live online.
“With Facebook and other social platforms, you can have highly targeted marketing campaigns to attract customers who are interested in the product or service that you have,” Herjavec says. “Find the user groups they meet up in on social and win them over there.”
2. Don’t be afraid to sell direct online.
Even as the ecommerce economy continues to surge, many small businesses old and new still don’t have shopping carts on their websites. Herjavec says failing to sell directly online is “foolishly leaving money on the table.” He believes that if your customers trust and believe in your brand, they’ll buy what you sell on the Internet.
Of those that do offer online shopping, the feature is often set up so poorly that it frustrates and confuses customers. The result: Potential buyers end up abandoning their shopping carts altogether and the sale is dead on arrival. “It quickly becomes such a hassle to go through with the transaction that they say ‘forget it,’” he says. “Don’t let that happen…”
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