160 Miles Today

This was a day when being behind the wheel was a good thing. Logged over 160 miles today, more than three hours in motion. Just me, the road, my thoughts. A gorgeous day for driving, but driving doesn’t earn much money. I’m paid commissions on sales, not miles. The people meeting me today didn’t pan out for much anyway. It was a day when I heard many sad stories about business being down – and I can understand business being down, believe me – but I sell advertising and it seems odd to me that if sales are down someone would choose to “save” money by cutting advertising.

Think about this for a minute. If a business cuts an advertising budget when times are tough, by what logic do they invest in advertising when times are good? If times are tough and advertising does what it is supposed to do, you would buy more, not less, right? The logic of cutting advertising when times are tough suggests that business owners have money to throw away in good times. “Hey, we’re making money! Let’s waste some on advertising!” That makes no sense.

Likewise a business would not stop providing a valuable service or discontinue a profitable line of products just to save money on the initial investment of providing the service or product. So when someone tells you they are cutting advertising to save money, you know they don’t understand or perhaps don’t appreciate the value of the advertising they buy from you.

And showing value is no easy task! It involves subjects business owners know nothing about, like return on investment and simple arithmetic. Seriously, there are a lot of stubbornly clueless people out there and many of them run businesses. It makes a guy wonder…what if? How did I end up on outside looking in? Perhaps conceptualizing and reasoning are counterproductive to successful business management, however I have my doubts.

Nonetheless, one business owner today insisted that while his calls are up this year, the value of those calls are down, meaning he isn’t closing as many sales. Fine. I won’t argue that point, but I only need to be profitable and comparing a typical year with this year he is clearly profitable with me. An advertising program that generates dozens of leads a month for only a couple hundred dollars is pretty good for a business with average sales worth many thousands of dollars. One sale might be worth tens of thousands of dollars for this business.

We reviewed his call reports; long quality calls dominated the month. Unfazed, he insisted that these calls were not nearly as valuable as calls he gets from freebies like bulletin boards and Craig’s List. Paid advertising hasn’t generated a sale in months, he says. As he speaks I’m convinced he is trying to convince himself as much as he is me that this is true. Little eye contact and an unwillingness to listen to an explanation exposes a man who does not want to be challenged. That’s obvious, right? So you try to lead him to a better conclusion that he finds on his own. You give him the facts and simple examples that he can project to his own situation. It should be simple, but those basic arithmetic and reasoning skills come in handy here. Unfortunately, if a person doesn’t have those, you’ve got problems, and today we had a lot of problems.

I did maintain a few accounts today and made a little money. Unfortunately a lot of money will cover gas and a probably dental bill to cover the teeth grinding that occurred while attempting to meet with my clients. I’m not sure what will cover eye rolling and aneurysms. My medical insurance, perhaps? Nothing to joke about. Frustrating clients do bring a person to the abyss more often than not and it is only a matter of time before I fall over the edge and require serious rehabilitative care at little hospital called something like Sylvan Dells…they still have those, right?

Until that day comes, I will retreat to my place behind the wheel and enjoy the countryside. Impossible clients on the one hand and an especially inviting day for a soothing drive on the other…sometimes things fit together quite nicely.

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