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    23 Replies Latest reply on Jun 14, 2010 9:51 AM by stokestrip

    "You don't deserve to be in business..."

    Iwrite Pioneer
      "You don't deserve to be in business," muttered my boss about our client one day as we were leaving a meeting with this client.

      It had been a hard meeting. Numbers for our client were down. Their competitor's numbers were up. The client and his bosses (who were present) were not happy. During the meeting, they had pointed out that the competitor's advertising was killing theirs, people were responding to it more, they were remembering it more and even local media was talking about it. Throughout the meeting my boss didn't say a word, but took notes, barley looking up. At the end of the meeting, my boss finally spoke, "we would like to meet again tomorrow to respond to this situation, is that favorable to you?" The clients agreed and we parted. And that' when my boss said that.

      The next day, the same folks were in the meeting. My boss stood up and began to present a response: first he emptied out a portfolio full of work that was everything the client was saying they wanted - everyone from the client agreed that this was the work that they should be doing. Then he presented a media schedule and budget that showed how we were going to get the word out; and finally he presented what all of this would cost.

      Our client's boss was livid! He was upset that in a day we could create such great work, create a strong plan to execute and it cost the exact same amount that they were already paying us. "How could this be?!" he demanded to know.

      My boss responded calmly, "It's easy, this is everything we presented to your people over the last few months that they've killed or changed because they didn't think the work was right, the media plan was off and the budget was too high. We have been fighting for months for work like this. My people have given you their best, only to have the work micro managed to what you have today. In all our meetings over the last few months, this is the first time you have been present. You can change agencies but you will have the same problem - your people are not willing to step outside their comfort zone."

      Needless to say this lead to more talking and meetings, but the end result was an advertising agency and client relationship that lasted almost 12 more years (which is a lot of time for some agency). The agency's work improved and the client's business grew.

      When it comes to your marketing, do you deserve to be in business?

      Are you looking to grow your business or letting doubt and fear cripple your great idea?
      When was the last time you tried something no one else is doing?
      How open are you to taking a risk to get more customers?
      Are you actively telling your story or letting it just flounder around and hope someone passing by will notice it?

      This is not about spending money. It is about getting your story out. This forum has at least two posts filled with ideas for those with no budget or a limited marketing budget. Have you tried any of those ideas and how much effort did you put behind it? If your business is struggling and you are doing what you always have done, maybe it is time to try something new.

      I hope this helps.

      And please, this is not a soliciting post. I know you have the great solution to all of this, but this hopefully can be a discussion and not a sales pitch.
        • Re: "You don't deserve to be in business..."
          Lighthouse24 Ranger

          When it comes to your marketing, do you deserve to be in business?

          I'm a big ol' fan of Capitalism, where that question always gets answered correctly -- if you deserve to be, you will be -- and if you don't, you won't (barring bailouts, handouts, etc.).

          You noted several factors that can cause a business to struggle (i.e., fear, lack of initiative, an unwillingness to take risks, or inaction). Another one I see very often is the new or prospective business owners who think they already know everything they really need to know to succeed. The less education and experience an owner has going in, the more he or she will have to learn along the way -- and that's just as certain as gravity. And while the learning doesn't have to come from formal education or books, it does have to come from SOMEWHERE -- there isn't time (or adequate cash reserves) for small business owners to learn it all on their own through trial and error.

          That's my main reason for signing on to this site every day -- I'm always hoping to learn something from another business owner, and I'm always hoping another business owner can learn something from me. The day when there's nothing to learn and nothing to teach is probably the day I really don't deserve to be in business anymore.

          • Re: "You don't deserve to be in business..."
            Elite1 Adventurer

            Fantastic story, IWrite!


            And like Lighthouse, I, too am here to share my knowledge and learn. However; I fear I do more of the latter.


            I believe that if people were more open-minded they would not get in situations such as you described. Many have great business ideas, but unfortunately are handicapped with poor listening skills and tunnel vision. If you aren't willing to listen and learn something new, you will end up stuck in a rut.

            Thank you for sharing your story.

            Elite Financial Services
            1 of 1 people found this helpful
            • Re: "You don't deserve to be in business..."
              DomainDiva Ranger
              Egomaniacs.....the destructive forces of good companies.
              1 of 1 people found this helpful
              • Re: "You don't deserve to be in business..."
                I think you hit the nail right on the head. People are too afraid of going outside of a comfort zone and scream every time the plan seems to be going wrong. There are too many misconceptions and fear of change that it affects everyones decision making skills, which ultimatly clouds their judgement. I've seen it happen multiple times, and it sickens me in a sad way. Embrace the new, don't condemn it!
                  • Re: "You don't deserve to be in business..."
                    Iwrite Pioneer
                    I want to say that there is something to being careful and deliberate, but like you said also be open to new. Be honest in your evaluation of your business and the climate it is in when it comes time to make a decision.

                    That's the sad part is watching a great business die because the people running it will not let it be great. There are some great ideas presented on this forum that I fear are going to languish and struggle when they don't have to. There's also a group of businesses that seem to understand and will grow to become successful. You can see the differences between the two groups in their posts.
                      • Re: "You don't deserve to be in business..."
                        horsesupplies Newbie
                        I was hoping you could point out some of the topics to explore in this forum that have "the great ideas" that I keep seeing mentioned in the comments. Since my business is in trouble, I guess it stands to reason that I cannot see "great ideas" when they are under my nose!

                        Also, I do not know what to look for ... what does a "great idea" look like?

                        All pointers will be very appreciated.
                          • Re: "You don't deserve to be in business..."
                            TopSavingsNet Wayfarer
                            Horse supplies, it is when you are in the most desperate need that the greatest ideas come to you. You may be experiencing a problem I run across often with many business owners, listening to the hype and following suit. Misery loves company.

                            A major step to improvement is to ditch the newspaper immediately. Instead of loathing in the wreck and ruin visualize your business as a fish in a fish bowl in a burning house. What will it take to survive? The greatest inventions in the world have always been conceived in times of need. Dare to be inspired, heck if you must, dare to duplicate, but never give up and sulk.
                              • Re: "You don't deserve to be in business..."
                                horsesupplies Newbie
                                Still too vague for me - besides, I don't swim.

                                I get the encouragement factor, (thank you for that), just not the actual "Tips & Great Ideas". So far, this forum sounds like many marketing agencies squawking about their client inequities. I am not loathing in anything but I confess, I am marketing challenged. What will it take to survive? A boatload of cash to rescue my fish that is going to be boiled soon!

                                So, where are the ideas? Am I in the wrong forum?
                                  • Re: "You don't deserve to be in business..."
                                    TopSavingsNet Wayfarer
                                    Horse, okay, that is vague I will admit. I was trying to encourage you to think outside the box aka bowl. What promotions have you put out there for your business, what is your advertising budget, what do you sell (horse supplies), current target demographic, geographical reach, etc.

                                    With a vague question, a vague answer will proceed.
                                      • Re: "You don't deserve to be in business..."
                                        horsesupplies Newbie

                                        Yes, Horse Supplies. Currently, I am using direct mail and email from my subscribers list. I did generate some new leads with a demographice search on the USPS site were you can buy addresses.

                                        The direct mail is primarily for large sales (like the 25% off the entire store for 3 days that I just had last weekend). The cost of postal mail does not work well for newsletters and announcements. I use email for that exclusively, but I find a lot of people don't read their email where postal mail they at least look at it even if they throw it away.

                                        I ran a radio ad last summer for a weekend sale. I run small ads regularly in a few horse magazines. I try to keep Craigslist and some of the local horse forum classifieds updated and fresh. I also keep a Yellow Page ad in Sonoma County and a 3 listings in Marin County.

                                        My target audience are women between 18-55 - and I believe my demographic reach is primarily Sonoma County and a few surrounding counties as most folks are only willing to travel just so far.

                                        So, you can see by what I have been doing what my budget is. Mostly, I invest in marketing when I can afford. I know that is not the best way to market my business but in this climate, I have no choice.

                                        So, How does it sound and what else should I be thinking of?
                                  • Re: "You don't deserve to be in business..."
                                    Iwrite Pioneer
                                    I am not ignoring you. I'm trying to finish up some stuff before the break. Give us an idea of what you are looking for as far as your situation. There are posts on advertising for free, How to generate customers, how to get your name out and a few others that had some really great suggestion.

                                    I'll be back.
                              • Re: "You don't deserve to be in business..."
                                mpoweringu Wayfarer
                                This truly is a great story and all too often true. For myself, I've spent my career in small business services attempting to explain to business owners why our services were needed. Time and time again, the business owner could never fully see our value (and thus justify the cost) not because we were not effectively proving our point, communicating our worth, or laying out what we could do; it was more because they did not fully understand the environment they operated in. They understood their market, but they did not understand how to REACH and COMMUNICATE with their market and thus constantly struggled to fill the pipeline. They just do things the way they think they should be done or have always been done.

                                Here's the wake-up call. The business environment of "abundance" from the past decade is now gone. If you want to survive and thrive, it is time to adapt to the changes to the world around you. Your business model has to change, your message has to change, your audience might even need to change, your products and services may need to change, and certainly how you find and acquire your customers has to change.

                                And guess what change causes you to do... get out of your comfort zone!

                                Adaptablity, Innovation, Creativity, Transformation... these are the words of the new business community. These may sound somewhat familiar, but rather than dealing with what makes us more "leading edge" than the next firm these words deal with how you have structured and positioned your organization to quickly identify and capitalize on new opportunities in this new economy that were previously not available or not even on the radar.

                                At our firm, we're going through this transformation. Maybe I'll create a new forum and share with you what we've been through, where we're going, and how we're attempting to get there. It might create some good conversation around adapting in this new economy!
                                • Re:
                                  ModernGorilla Wayfarer
                                  I see it everyday, and it's something I have to drill out of my own clients. My own personal hell is "design by committee" because I'm a firm believer that the first solid direction should be carried out to fruition with as little deviation as possible.

                                  I don't have much else to add, but whomever said that the easy days are over is entirely correct.. and I don't think a lot of people are even at that realization yet. By the time they are it may be too late.
                                  • Re: "You don't deserve to be in business..."
                                    MarketSmarter Newbie
                                    Great story and sad because it is too often the case.

                                    But there is another side to the story where businesses who are operationally flawed quickly blame the marketing as not working. I implore every pr firm, ad agency and marketing firm to make sure you put in some mechanism to measure your marketing effort. I recently had a conversation with a client who was complaining that my poor marketing efforts were the reason business was down.

                                    I quickly compiled the tracking data that showed leads had increased 27%, but conversion to sale was a meager 15%. It was then clear to them they had an operations problem, not a marketing one.
                                    • Re: "You don't deserve to be in business..."
                                      TopSavingsNet Wayfarer
                                      Great story slash article. I really think this should have been in the stories section, awesome material. Maybe they will let you post it there still? Ran into this story after just coming up with a great promotion for my own company, must be something in the air?
                                      • Re: "You don't deserve to be in business..."
                                        stokestrip Wayfarer
                                        Great article. Thinking outside the box is the best way to be successful. You never want your business to look like one big rerun. I try every new idea I myself or someone else comes up with. You never know until you try it. I have tried a lot of things and spent a lot of money doing it. It only taught me which direction not to go which sometimes is the best lesson you can learn. However, I take the advise of successful people and companies that are trying to help me be successful.