Coming from a background in both accounting and human resources, I've been able to witness a lot of business lessons firsthand. When I launched Cao Chocolates
, I felt fortunate to take some of those lessons and apply them directly to my daily business life, channeling what I had learned in the corporate world into my small business life. One of the areas I've always had an interest in is marketing, and I work hard to find new and inventive ways to bring products and ideas to potential clients. Here are five rules I live by on my marketing journey:
1. Love your product and try to be the best in your industry:
I was passionate about chocolate long before I made it my business, and I think that passion comes through in my work. I also channel my passion by investing money in my chocolate education. Even today, I often travel to meet and learn from the best chefs and chocolatiers in the world to be sure I am providing clients with the very best product.
2. Create strong partnerships:
I truly believe that if you go by yourself, you won't go very far. A strong group of people will get you there. I'm proud to partner with and support other local businesses and share in successes that we can all benefit from. I recently sent out corporate gifts for an attorney client of ours. We hand-delivered chocolates to about 25 of his best clients and just a few days later he was on the phone, thrilled with how many referrals he had already gotten. At the same time we had other attorneys who had seen the gifts calling us, wanting to do the same. It was a great marketing opportunity for both of us.
3. Be kind:
It sounds simple, but it really is so important. We live in a big world, but it can be small when it comes to our business and industries. Be nice to everyone, make them feel great and make an effort to have exceptional customer service—you never know who you're dealing with.
4. Find new ways to get your name out there:
You have to be creative. You can't wait for the customer to walk through your door. When I didn't have a storefront, I created pop-up opportunities via local farmer's markets. When I didn't have a commercial kitchen, I partnered with a local baker to rent space in her shop. We do wine and chocolate pairing events, special tastings and sell our product in more than 10 markets and coffee shops across South Florida. We connect with growers and clients via social media. We're constantly thinking of new ways to introduce Cao to the world.
5. Give back:
It doesn't matter how much you make, you always have to give back. If you make $100, you can give $10. If you make $1 million, you can give $1,000. Use part of what you make to help someone else. It will always come back to you.