My mother used to say this to me often, “Addy, sometimes I just wish I could stop the world for a few minutes and get off.” At the time I was just a kid and I had no idea what she really meant. She just looked tired, probably in no small part due to the constant stress created by me and my two brothers. As I myself have hurtled headlong into the stresses of adulthood, I often think of my mum’s words – especially as a small business owner.
The simple fact is, owning a small business is like having kids. At birth they are extremely painful. As they mature they take constant effort and there’s no set hours. Only in their maturity to do they hopefully yield their owners the fruits of their labor. Like parents, many business owner friends of mine often question their sanity when it comes to why on earth they ever decided to start their own business, but just like parents they say things like:
“At times I wonder why I ever did it – but I would never want to go back to a job.”
“There are brief moments when all the stress becomes worth it.”
So where am I going with this?
As I was walking down to my local cafe (where I am writing this post) I was thinking about why I decided to stake the next few years of my business life on such a fast moving and unpredictable space like mobile marketing. In fact earlier this week someone asked me straight out to assure them of the future of SMS as a marketing tool. The answer comes down to something I noticed about two years ago, and that is that technology (like the pace of life generally), is accelerating far quicker than the average small business owner can effectively implement it. It is my firm belief that implementation rather than technology itself will be what separates those that succeed from those that don’t going forward.
Only yesterday an old friend of mine came around for a coffee that I hadn’t seen for about 2 years. As usual, our discussion quickly turned to what we each had been doing and he went on to tell me how he had launched what he referred to as “a little website that sold clothing to teenage girls”. As I probed he told me that they were selling about $70,000 worth of stuff every week – hardly what I would call “a little website”. What was interesting though is that he said that a large part of their success had to do with his more than 60,000-strong Facebook following. Getting friends or fans on Facebook is not new, in fact there’s more than 10,000,000 Facebook users in Australia and all of them have done the very thing which this guy attributes most of his $70,000 a week success to. His secret is not a secret at all – it’s just implementation.
What I am getting at is simple. I went into SMS marketing based on the fundamentals of the idea. Sure there’s lots of hockey stick looking growth charts I could show people and all the “data” was flowing in the right direction, but the thing I say to sell the service is simply this…
“Wouldn’t you agree that it makes sense to speak to your customers after they have bought from you? To invite them back, say thank you and wish them a Merry Christmas?”
We are in the implementation side of a technology that has already existed for abut 10 years in this country. The technology is not new but small businesses that are using it properly and making money from it every month is. So far, through our franchisees providing quality service, we have been instrumental in getting the implementation done for dozens and dozens of businesses.
Sadly, so many business owners have been conditioned to expect immediacy from their marketing, not stopping and examining the fundamentals of what drives people’s buying habits long term. Time applied to the right idea can be very powerful. My friend with the Facebook driven clothing business knows and understands the power of being able to speak to his fans inside the very personal “news stream” that Facebook offers its users. It is fundamentally a good idea for him to promote his products and services for free into that environment. He didn’t expect great results from week one – it took a few years of building, communicating and nurturing that community. Today he has an asset that kicks off huge cash every week because he implemented, implemented, implemented – it wasn’t the technology or a break through idea – it’s the fan base which he built over time.
My message for today is simple. Look at the fundamentals of the marketing choices you are making and then stop looking at everything new and focus on properly implementing just one or two good strategies before you poke your head up again to see what else is out there. The challenge these days is not getting new ideas – it is the proper implementation of just a few. If you don’t opt-out from the info stream that is today’s world, you will spend your days in overwhelm rather than getting your feet into the soil of productivity.