You’re Too Close to Where You Got In

Ok, let me see if I understand your plight.

You are a small business owner. When you started your business you were full of enthusiasm, things were working and customers were coming out of the woodwork (or at least you had enough to sustain you).

But now, now you are struggling. The excitement is gone. Now there are not enough customers to sustain you. The numbers are just not favorable for  you staying in business.

When working with clients in this situation I am reminded of a story. I am unsure of the origin. The story goes like this:

One night, a mother heard a loud thump come from her son’s room. She immediately jumped out of bed to see what had happened. “What happened?” she asked her son. “I don’t know. I guess I stayed too close to where I got in.” You have to love the pure honesty of children.

I find this happens with business owners too. When you start your business, it is new, full of excitement, full of hope, and you are finally working for yourself. Or, maybe you just took over the family business. It’s been successful for years.

But now, those things aren’t true. Nothings changed with the business. You still have good stuff to sell. You still provide excellent service. You just aren’t getting the customers that you once did. Oh sure, you have your regulars that come in. You love them but, they aren’t enough to sustain you.

One very likely possibility is that you, like the little boy in the story, have stayed too close to where you got in.  Before you know it you feel a bump, you look around, and barely recognize your business. You are not alone. This is a common trap. And one that I believe causes a lot of businesses to fail. You see, when you opened up, the customers that came were found in the following ways: had seen an advertisement, found you by accident, sought you out for a specific product or service, or (and this is always good) someone referred them to you.

Unfortunately, most of these customers have moved on. We are inundated with messages from lawyers, restaurants, retail stores, doctors, dentists, Real Estate Agents, etc. Guess what? We have a short attention span. We practice selective blindness and selective hearing. We tend to fall into the habit of doing business with whom we hear/see most often. This behaviour does not favor the small business. You see, curiosity will get us into your business, but we will quickly fall into our old habits and shop “the names”.  Only two things will change this.

  1. the experience (product, service) is so exceptional that we connect with you the very first time, and then every time thereafter.
  2. your business pops into our mind when we think of something that we need, great rolls, that awesome massage, the unique gift, etc. This really only happens if you have “connected” with us most recently.

The first one you’ve got covered. If not, or if you are not sure, let’s talk.

The second one may be a little bit more elusive for the reasons I have outlined above. You have likely tried ads, flyers, maybe even radio, and some have even had TV spots. You have even tried things like Groupon and RetailMeNot. All of these can be costly. And, unless you have a large, very large that is, advertising budget you will not be able to “connect” with us enough to break the hold of the big guys by using these methods. You just can’t stay “in front” of us enough.

Now, I am not telling you to stop all of that. Remember, you may find some customers in those ads, or even in those “coupons”.  But how much will you gain vs. how much will you give up? My experience tells me that advertising salespeople are very good at providing statistics about how many people they reach. But, do they actually reach us soon enough before we buy to influence us. All I am saying here is: be very, very selective.

Maybe it is time to try something brand new and exciting, and successful and…  A new technology. As part of my consulting practice I have tool that may help you get those customers. It is a service called NETcinity Proximity Marketing. While not the only such technology out there, this service allows you to connect with your potential customers every day as they pass by your business. It will allow you to connect with your customers, as you wish. One option will actually provide a “personalized” app for your business.

What if you could send flyers, menus, coupons (without giving up a percentage), videos, etc. to mobile devices as they pass your business. In some locations tens of thousands of cars pass your business everyday. I can’t promise that you will hit 100%. But what if you hit 10%, or 20% of those devices on their lock screens.They could see your business name pop up daily.

What if you could contact your customers via a personalized app for your business. Send them notifications to their mobile devices of specials, or specialized information, etc. What if everyone that passed by YOUR business was notified “hey I’m here, check us out”

Now, I am not going to promise you the moon and stars if you try this. It isn’t for everyone. But, it might work for you. The company is committed to helping communities. And more specifically they are focused on local business by using a free community app to help you connect to customers when they are in close proximity to your business. They even provide the service to Chambers of Commerce and Churches for free.

Now, let me end this way:

Stop and think: Are you too close to where you got in? Are you happy with the way your business is performing? Are you reaching enough potential customers when they are deciding to make a purchase of something that you can provide?

If you answered yes to all these questions then congratulations are certainly in order. However, if the answers to any, or all, of these questions is no, then you are may be too close to where you got in.

Remember, if you stay too close to where you got in you, like the little boy in the story may just fall out of bed (or business) and go bump.

Attack 2018 with a new focus. Whether or not you decide to explore this technology or even explore engaging me to help move your business, I urge you to move. The initial consultation is free. The service is affordable and there are currently promotions in place to make it more so. The promotion will not last but are designed to help you start 2018 off right.  And, who knows, I may be able to help you avoid falling and bumping your head in the night.

If you represent a church or a chamber of commerce please feel free to contact me about getting the service. It will certainly be beneficial for connecting to your constituents.

Merry Christmas and may all of you have a happy and very prosperous New Year!

Patrick Cowan




Author: Patrick Cowan, CFO

I have over thirty years experience in Finance, Accounting, HR, and Business Management. Most of this has been at the Senior Management and Executive Level. I believe that small ideas can be big winners if the right dynamics are applied.

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