I was walking through the local shopping centre recently and stopped to look at the community notice board. On there you typically see a mixture of things like ‘for sale’, garage sales, French lessons, guitar lesson and the like. I was intrigued to also notice an advertisement for a computer support company.
Now most of these ads that are flogging something have small tear away strips at the bottom with the contact details on there making it easy for the interested party to make contact with the advertiser. Interestingly, the only one that didn’t have any strips removed was the one for computer support. Maybe just a new ad I thought?
I continued to monitor the same notice board for a number of weeks and was struck by the fact that all the other advertisement gradually had their strips taken but not technology support company. This got me to thinking about how people go about marketing their business generally.
Of course, the tear away strip ad maybe working wonders elsewhere but let’s work on the evidence at hand here. Firstly, I would assume that whomever stuck that ad up there has never been back to monitor whether any strips have been taken. So how are you going to know whether people are even interested? Secondly, the ad was on plain paper and failed to stand out. I’ll bet that the same ad was printed out a dozen times and stuck in different places. How are you ever going to know what actually attracts people? Wouldn’t it make send to try a slightly different ad at different locations and see if the results vary? Wouldn’t it make sense to return when you have receive no inquiries and try something that looks a bit different?
So there seem to be plenty of reasons why this ad is failing to generate positive referrals but now lets look at the ad from the opposite direction. What does a low quality ad like that in a location like that say about the business in people’s minds? Being what it is and where it is certainly seems to indicate being cheap and perhaps even has a whiff of desperation about it. Again, this may not be the truth but I’ll wager that it is the reaction that most people would have. Importantly, without any hard evidence one can only ASSUME.
If you stop and think about how most business works these days what do you come up with? If you need a plumber, builder, gardener, cleaner, etc what do you normally do? You seek an answer from your immediate social network, from the people you know. You ask the question, ‘Do you know someone who does…”. If you get a positive recommendation then chances are that this referral will almost certainly get the business. Why? Because it was referred to you by someone you know and whose opinion your trust.
The biggest lesson I have learnt over the years is that it is not what you know, it is who you know. Initially I thought this was somehow ‘dirty’ and ‘immoral’ by relying on a friendship rather than the quality of work. However I have learned with time that in most cases nothing is further from truth. People trust people. People work with people. People buy from people. In the end it is all about relationships isn’t it?
Wouldn’t it therefore be a better investment to spend you time cultivating and growing relationship with someone rather than randomly spraying leaflet on local community notice boards? People think marketing is hard and that because they have forgotten the key element in what marketing is. It is the relationship customers have with your business. This means the heart and soul of any marketing is not about flyers, brochures, products, features, etc it is about people. Grow those relationships and business will beat a path to your door.