Keeping the Dream Alive: Hot tips for a Cold market

It’s inevitable; you’ll have your slow days. Occasionally those days spread out, creating a blanket of despondency and low morale. The phone isn’t ringing. The emails dry up. Even the spam begins to look like potential clients. You’re calling and writing and hitting all the social events-but your cards go unheeded and your bills are piling up. Maybe it’s a sign; throw in the towel, kick the bucket. But maybe it’s a sign of something else.
There are many reasons why a business fails. perhaps your parking lot is too small (or non existent), or you’re located in a bad part of town. Maybe you’ve overstaffed or overstocked a non-selling item. It could be your paint scheme compels people to excessive violence. Usually it comes down to a few things: Advertising, budget and attitude. Let’s look at them and see what’s holding you back.

McDonalds logo and slogan

The small business class we took when starting our company had a lot of good points on how a couple of guys could start a business and get it past the 1, 5 and 10 year marks. the main one being this: The number one reason a business fails is lack of advertising. If no one knows who you are, how can they buy your service? New business owners often make the mistake of cutting advertising to save money and then wonder why there are no orders coming in. Advertising is basically getting your name out there. A successful advertising package includes a logo that’s easily replicated, a jingle that’s informative and catchy, and a mascot or some icon people can identify with. Look at McDonalds. Logo? Jingle? Mascot? These things when done in the right proportions can do more work than cold calls and email floods. But there has to be consistency. Too many jingles, multiple icons and unrelated graphics can lead people astray. Keep it simple and concise. Your phone numbers and email addresses should be kept to a minimum as well. You want the door big and wide, with easy arrows to follow. Now, emails and newsletters are good as well, but there is such thing as too much in that area. If people see your name in an inbox and instantly hit ‘delete’, you’re now in the negative area of their mind as someone to turn to for info and services. Save your flashes for things like promos, updates to video libraries and upcoming events.

erican Marketing Association logo

Be sure the links are active and lead to pertinent information, not more email. Build a website. Keep it fresh with content. Work on your SEO and attend the functions associated with your field. Even if you’re seeing the same people over and over, remember: they’re seeing you, too. Get your name out there and don’t stop. Go for real face time with real people: Social networks are a great way to ‘meet’ people, but rarely prove reliable when it comes to pulling in business. For more info, check out advertising federations as well as conferences; and look up how much the big businesses spend on advertising every year. McDonlads alone spent 2 Billion dollars on advertising last year. And you’re lovin’ it.
The budget area of this is tricky, because it means money and if you don’t have any how can you spend it? As stated above, advertising should be the main pay-out, after employees. NOTE: The worker is worthy of his wage. If you aren’t paying your employees, the universe will find out and take your business away. There’s nothing worse than trying to take advantage of someone to save a buck. UNNOTE. Any money that comes in is budget. Budget is what you pay your bills with, what you buy that new camera with, and what you spend on bottled water and coffee and food for the talent and meetings. Budget is NOT what you buy yourself video games and new shoes with. Those things are also bought with money, but not with budget money. Make sense? It takes so much to run a business daily, monthly, yearly. You need to know this number and expect it. Think about it. Lightbulbs are this much and the electric bill is that much A MONTH. [As a video production company, if we lose electricity or phone, we’re done for. We’ve had to go without gas before (thank goodness the water is electrically heated) and cut back on business lunches and edit our operating hours to maintain the budget, but it gets done.] Any utility or bill you have monthly-mortgage, rent-needs to get paid. So pay them. And pay your employees. Know the overall sum of what keeps your doors open and set it back. Spending the money you should be saving is the fast way to find yourself in the poor house. If your budget is not large enough to do these things, you have a problem. You either need to delegate more to advertising, get a smaller space, or let someone go (If it’s the later, be sure to give good references-if deserved-and do anything you can to find them another job). Whatever is left over is profit. Don’t spend it all in one place.
Lastly we come to attitude. To be more specific, Your attitude. It’s easy to get your grump on when things aren’t going your way. Complaining and moping around are normal side effects of being a failure. It doesn’t help when people say things like “It could be worse”, or “It can’t last forever”. The important thing to know is to be honest with yourself. If your business is failing, admit it. Don’t live in denial until they come to carry of your possessions. Seek advice from professionals and humble yourself enough to take what they say to heart. Your business isn’t failing because you know everything. If you truly want to go forward in your profession then it’s a smart move to take anything that comes as progress. Sometimes progress hurts, but resistance builds muscle. Roots get strong from pushing through tough soil. And so will you. If it was the end, it would be the end and be over. If it’s not, you’re still going, and you’ll have to choose what you want from it. You’ll have to choose to show up from 9 to 5 (or what have you) even if no one calls (You never know- any call can be that million dollar call). You have to choose to encourage your employees, choose to keep advertising and updating and making coffee and you have to choose-when people ask you what you do-to say I’m a ________, and proud of it.

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