Watching the Netflix series of Self Made, a story about the life of Madam C.J Walker opened me to the realm of tactics most entrepreneurs are oblivious to.
For starters, Self Made is an expose into America’s first self made female millionaire, Madam C.J Walker who made a fortune selling hair growing products for black women in the early 1900s. The Netflix series, Self Made thus narrows into what happened in her life and how she emerged from working as a laundry woman to discovering a path that would make her self-sufficient.
Her story is inspiring and there are a few tactics you as an entrepreneur or a brand strategist can adapt from that series into swelling your company’s revenue.
1. Appeal To Customer’s Emotions and Internal Frustrations
As an entrepreneur, you’re either selling a product or service where what you do daily is post the product and maybe enumerate on its features.
Hey, you’re missing out.
There’s a need your product or service is meeting. How about you touching on the problems your customers face? Identifying your customers’ problems deepens their interest in the product or service you’re selling.
In Self Made, due to exhaustion and hard work, black women rarely had time to take care of their hair thus making them encounter dandruff, baldness and other scalp ailments.
When selling her product, Madam C-J Walker tapped into those problems, and the internal frustrations that came with it. Battling with baldness meant these women had a dip in self confidence and felt sad about their fading beauty.
What external problems and internal frustrations are your customers battling with? How can your product and service be the fix to those problems? Once you know this, integrate it into your copies, captions and taglines.
The more you talk about the problems your customers experience, the more interest they will have in your brand.
2. Introduce Storytelling
What’s the story behind your product? That’s the strength behind Madam C.J Walker’s marketing. The two times she sold in the open market space, at first as she was calling out her product and its benefits, no one was interested.
Then she began telling a story to a black woman about what spurred her into making hair growing creams.
And just like how we always loved to hear stories when we were little, her opening up about the early years of her hair product led a bunch of women to her stand and then by the time she finished her story, the women were enthralled and wanted their hair to be like Madam Walker’s. The story hooked them into purchasing her product.
Your product has a story behind it, tell it.
You ever get to a stage in your business journey and it feels like you’re stagnant and you’re due for growth or addition of maybe a product or service?
Madam C.J Walker felt that way but her expansion was due to her leveraging on a piece of information. With more black people thronging to Indianapolis, she sensed a need to leave St Louis, her hometown and reach out to an empty market space with no competition.
After a few months of settling there aided with aggressive marketing, her hair salon would soon become the go-to place for black women. Might not have happened if she was still at St Louis.
What new addition or idea can spike up more returns for your company? Try it out, see if it’ll work.
4. Employ people
It can’t remain a one-man business for long. As time goes on, and with expansion in the works, you would have to employ people to handle some specialties for you.
Perhaps you once used to manage social media coupled with the day-to-day running of your business, but now with customers booming, you could have someone do that for you, taking a weight off you.
Maybe you were involved in production, and now with the brand expanding, brimming with more customers, you need more hands to assist in producing more items.
Similar to how Madam C.J Walker recruited more hands to help in production of more of her hair growing creams.
5. Opportunities will come, use them.
When Madam C.J walker lost her first salon in Indianapolis due to a fire outbreak, she envisioned a new place with a lot of space, big enough for her wild ideas.
But she needed investors to put money into her business so she could actualize these ideas. She needed social proof, in the form of a popular businessman endorsing her. That opportunity would come but she had to work her way around it by going on stage uninvited, pitching her business to hundreds who sat in the National League of Businessmen convention.
When opportunity comes for you either to talk about your business to people, or pitch an idea to a person of influence, would you take it or fret and eventually back down?
6. Keep brand secrets to yourself
Many successful brands have an unknown tactic going for them, helping to gain an edge over their competition. And it isn’t anything new. You start a business today and a week later, someone also is competing with you. Or you incorporate an innovative approach today and someone is copying it.
Weeks after moving to Indianapolis, she had a competitor named Addie, who feeling the buzz of Madam C.J Walker’s hair products, started to sell hers too. Thing is her competitor, Addie barely had customers. She had no stories and she was just known as C.J Walker’s competitor.
All she did was study Madam C.J’s Walker approach and try to replicate it. Addie started worshiping at Walker’s church, attending the same business meetings and went as far as almost stealing her secret product formula, which was Madam C.J Walker’s secret. The efficacy of her product, helping to grow the hair of black women.
There’s something working for you, giving you an edge over your competition. It’s a secret to you, don’t give it away or you will be replaced in the scheme of things.
7. Challenges will arise, don’t fold or panic
From the onset, Madam C.J Walker faced challenges. Getting customers. To buy what she was selling, challenges of settling far away from home and also personal issues. It got to a boiling point where she was having repeated family problems as far as her husband cheating on her.
Challenges are norms in the business world. What matters is your approach to sweeping them away.
For C.J walker, every challenge led to her ascending to the next level. When her husband cheated on her, she went through that period to clinch a deal with a store. Or when her house was burnt, it made her secure a new space.
It’s not the end of the world. Whatever challenge you’re in right now, see it as an opportunity for growth.
This article was written by Olabode Otolorin; connect on Instagram with him here