Business and the Art of Procrastination
Planning out a business takes a little time. Identifying what the business will do, who it will do it for and how much people or other businesses are prepared to pay for it are three elements of the planning, but there are crucial others.
- Where are the customers going to come from?
- Where’s the competition? What are they doing to bring in business and what are their strengths?
- Will the amount that people are prepared to pay be enough to make the business viable?
- Are there scalable elements to the business?
- Do I need new equipment?
- Should I buy new or used ‘new’ equipment?
- What will my cost of delivery be (to the nearest penny)?
There are many more questions that need to be answered and those inexperienced in business may view not having the answers as a weakness. This can result in seemingly endless research and, as time ticks inexorably by, no marketing being done to live test your business ideas.
Marketing Response Times
First of all, there isn’t much that’s new, so your new service or product is very likely available elsewhere and will have been seen before. It’s new to you and it may be new to your area, but it’s already old hat in a lot of minds and you need to sell it like it’s new hat because you’re doing something slightly different.
Second, people are not waiting for you to come along so that they can buy from you. You’ll have to persuade them that they should, but it won’t be a speedy process.
Start a new business that serves your local community and deliver a thousand leaflets door to door. Some people still do that. Enquiries will most likely equal nil.
Try again with the same strategy, but do you repeat the nil return effort of the first time or do you deliver to a different area?
Don’t Give Up Too Soon
Let’s consider the insights of Thomas Smith, author of ‘Successful Advertising’, in which he wrote:
The 1st time people look at an ad, they don’t see it.
The 2nd time, they don’t notice it.
The 3rd time, they are aware that it is there.
The 4th time, they have a fleeting sense that they’ve seen it before.
The 5th time, they actually read the ad.
The 6th time, they thumb their nose at it.
The 7th time, they get a little irritated with it.
The 8th time, they think, “Here’s that confounded ad again.”
The 9th time, they wonder if they’re missing out on something.
The 10th time, they ask their friends or neighbours if they’ve tried it.
The 11th time, they wonder how the company is paying for all these ads.
The 12th time, they start to think that it must be a good product.
The 13th time, they start to feel the product has value.
The 14th time, they start to feel like they’ve wanted a product like this for a long time.
The 15th time, they start to yearn for it because they can’t afford to buy it.
The 16th time, they accept the fact that they will buy it sometime in the future.
The 17th time, they make a commitment to buy the product.
The 18th time, they curse their poverty because they can’t buy this terrific product.
The 19th time, they count their money very carefully.
The 20th time prospects see the ad, they buy what it is offering.
Thomas Smith, who is no longer with us, wrote this in 1885 when advertising was in its infancy, but much of it holds true today. That’s one reason why leaflet drops leave new businesses wondering what they’re doing wrong and why they have no customers. The return rates on printed ads alone is too low to sustain the cost of running them and, if you operate from home, you have no street presence to attract customers. Nothing is being done wrong, but nothing that’s been done has been done often enough. That sentence structure is deliberate, because you may have to read it more than once and the message within it, ‘don’t give up too early’, is an important one. Online and off, get seen more often if you want an ad to work. That’s why consistent approaches on Social Media and really putting in the hours to get your message out works well. It’s tough but so worth it.
Stuff Leaflet Stuffing
Now that you’ve been put off leaflet stuffing because it only really works well for recognised brands who are offering a special deal on a massive scale (done in the hope that they’ll retain a few of the customers who switch from one pizza outlet to another – market share is everything in a saturated market) you’ll know that online is where it’s at.
If you want a small site that looks pretty good without the hassles of coding and you don’t mind the hosting company making you pay for site statistics or showing a few adverts on your site then you can still have a site for free.
But before you jump right in, check for what you can’t do for free and consider whether there are useful features that you might have for free if you build your site in a different way. Also, consider how your lovely premium brand will appear on a free web site – everyone will know you used a freebie for it and that will almost certainly smudge your image. Consider low cost like WordPress as a starter rather than free or pay monthly – it looks better.
The platform has become more business-friendly, although there are a lot of restrictions and sometimes, when you try to get sophisticated with your marketing, you can find your advertising rejected by the review team.
Facebook is pretty good for reaching out and connecting with people you know. The ripple effect can spread so that people who follow them may also become interested in your business. It’s super laser-focused on consumers and their buying habits and, due to set up capabilities, very versatile for showing ads to the same people over and over again.
Pinterest, Instagram & Twitter
Pinterest is great for reach to those who love and respond to using visuals, but it’s generally a discerning crowd over there, so they expect to see photographs as opposed to badly lit snaps.
Instagram’s user base is a little more forgiving but the environment is mainly about entertaining people. If you can’t do that with what your business does then maybe it’s not a great place to be.
Twitter is dropping the 140 character limit, but only for direct messages. Tweets will remain at 140 characters. Not a lot of space for a marketing message, although a link shortening service will help.
Also remember that all these platforms are set up to make money eventually, so make use of what’s free and test away but be prepared to pay for it as the platform’s monetisation plans get underway, Instagram is moving towards that now so expect less free engagement.
If you provide professional services, then LinkedIn is somewhere you really have to be. You can connect with other professionals whose services would sit neatly alongside yours, possibly creating the potential for a joint venture in the future.
When in Doubt, Don’t do Nothing
The important thing is that you do something from day one, even from thought one, to market your business and that you keep reminding people that you’re there. Constantly checking your phone in case the battery died isn’t marketing and, in the early days at least, if you get something wrong no one will notice because no one is looking at you anyway.
Decide on some action – low or no cost – social media is ideal for this and promote your business, not in a salesy, pitch, buy my stuff way but in a look what we can do for you sort of way and engage with people. Engage with enough and listen to them and you are marketing and marketing eventually results in sales.