I was sending out flyers, post cards, mailers, and brochures. I had advertisements in newspapers, yellow pages, and business cards flung all over town. This seemed like a logical start for a business, after all this is what the books say right? So what's the problem? What did I hate about this? What didn't work?
Well, after my first round of these marketing vehicles I did get results, it's not that the calls didn't come in because they did. One of the largest issues I had was the type of customer it attracted so le'ts start with that.
The customers I was attracting were cheap, it's that simple. Not only were they cheap but they had no loyalty to my company. The more I advertised the more customers called me but that also meant I had to run around more and give free bids away.........on customers who don't care. This means I'm competing on price, not a good idea.
No problem, after all I have a pile of marketing books that say "Change the message" "do something different" blah blah blah. This must be it because you know, they are marketing experts after all...........
So I did that, I changed the content, I changed the message, I changed the colors, I made it different. I'm telling you this, I followed the books to the absolute T, I even talked to professional marketing people. After this I pushed it out the door and rolled the dice.
Well I got results all right, what I ended up with is MORE cheap customers, more customers who have no loyalty and more running around not making money.
"Hi Mike, can you beat this price?"
"I have your bid Mike can you lower the price $500?"
"Oh I really can't afford that see you later!"
"A fella told me this can be done really quick"
It doesn't end here however. I certainly got more customers but my percentages were off. What I mean by this is when I increased my marketing my customer calls went up but not at the same rate, it actually got worse and my ROI went down.
Just beat it like a dead horse Mike!
I didn't give up though, no way, that's not my style. Instead I just reinvented my business because that's what I read in Forbes magazine and the story was killer. That's the ticket, that's the answer!!!!!!
The first thing on the agenda is to change my logo, oh hell yeah, that's what all the REAL companies do right? So I did, I tweaked it, I colored it, I made it cool, I even asked customers and they ALL said "It looks great Mike". I was excited and I felt like a real business man now because I'm taking the business to the next level with the whole logo, branding, image, blah, blah, blah.
Next up was the letterhead, business cards, envelopes, T-shirts, mugs, hats, pencils etc. Oh yeah baby, this was going to take me right over the edge. I had these things looking so dam good that Donald Trump would be proud......they looked so darn sharp it was incredible and to top things off I blew $3,000 on custom folders and brochures to send to EVERYBODY. When they got this in the mail it was an "over the top" experience.
With all these changes my new strategy was to become more professional than the competition. I was gonna out market them and blow their doors off! I was going to be unstoppable.
So that's what I did, I launched the new look and everybody said "Mike this is seriously your best work so far". I didn't do it alone either, Instead I recruited professional marketing people and even paid them!
I'm still not done though. With my new system came sophistication, I was in the computer age now. My marketing people told me to code the advertisements, track the calls, file the calls, organize the customer, track efficiency, and create 10 miles of charts and graphs. Oh yeah, it was the big time for me.
More changes, same results
After the launch and my new and improved marketing system was in place I expected the phone to ring like crazy. It didn't.
Ok, that's not totally true because it did increase but this time the increase was even smaller than before. Basically I had and an increase in spending and effort with an even lower ROI.
This isn't even the worst part, not in the least bit. Now I was stressed out, my marriage was on the rocks, I was distant from my kids, my customers were not loyal, my profit margins were getting worse, and I hated........I mean I HATED being in business. This was NOT what the business books talked about, and this was NOT what the marketing people told me was going to happen.
I would drive around and have to take breaks so I could just slow my heart beat down. There were even times where I would pull over and puke because I felt like I was out of control running around for peanuts and it was getting worse by the day. My marketing people said I "had to change the message", "change the content", etc. I dam near drove a pipe wrench through a marketing guys windshield when he was so out of answers that he finally told me I should change where I market my business, I should market in a larger area with more people. It wasn't demographics either and would you like to know why? BECAUSE EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN MY MARKET ENDED UP WITH MY MARKETING MATERIAL!!!!!!! Screw the demographic argument, I sent crap to everybody.
It's safe to say I was in a temporary state of depression which was killing me because I'm a person who loves to laugh. I had become a person I didn't know and my business was running me, and not because of disorganization but because of a total marketing meltdown. Organization is my strong point.
In the next chapter I will get into exact details about what went wrong, and solution #1