Advertising, Small Business, and Sales People

Withhold your thoughts about whether you like direct mail, door hangers, or that sort of thing.  I want to share an experience I had meeting a new business that should give a business owner a reason to think twice before pushing a salesman out the door.


Not long ago we had space to fill on a neighborhood direct mail product I offer.  It was available  for a nominal fee, mostly to cover part of the production cost.  Even at a bargain price, I understand that it would not fit all business needs, but a business would reach 10,000 homes in the surrounding neighborhoods for less than two cents a delivery.


I usually do not stop at businesses in my neighborhood — in large part because people become irrational about sales and I don’t want to risk that interfering in my relationships with neighbors — but I walked past what like a new optical goods shop in my neighborhood and I thought a perfect fit.  So I decided stop in, introduce myself, and see if they wanted some information about our offer and set an appointment to meet.


The woman running the shop cut me off and explained that she had been open for months. word-of-mouth was working great for her.  She let me know her husband works in advertising and has everything handled.  I asked what he did and she told me he was very creative, he knew all about designing and creating ads, and had been doing that for years.  Again, everything is covered.


I am not so sure.


Her husband might very well be a capable advertising man, but if she were sincere, she’s lost all credibility with me.  Writing a good tagline or laying out an effective display ad is worlds apart from advertising and marketing it.  But there’s a good chance I was just getting the brush off and she didn’t want to talk to me.


DIY Glasses

Not Me.

Here’s what you need to know.


I live yards away from the store.  Every Sunday I buy a cinnamon roll in a shop next door.  My insurance agent is adjacent to the shop, too.  Probably not a day goes by when I don’t pass that store  at least once.  And guess what…it had been open for months and I didn’t know it existed.


I also wear eye glasses and tend to invest in better eye wear.  If I had known about an optical store opening in my neighborhood, I likely would have at least enough interest to check it out.


It is also late in the year.  I have a large balance remaining in my health savings account.  I tend to apply any balance I have at the end of the year to purchasing eye glasses.


So I am a strong prospective new lead for this business.  I live in the neighborhood, wear glasses, and have money to spend.   If I live almost on top of the place and don’t know they are there, how likely are people blocks or a mile away to know about the store?


Finally, when you open a business — crazy as it seems — people will call or stop in to ask about doing business with you.  When they do, treat them as you would a customer because they might be a customer or become one.


A credible sales person will have done his homework and have a good reason for contacting you.  It doesn’t hurt to give him a minute to hear what he has to say.  You can quickly sort out the valuable calls from the rest.  But when you say no before knowing what you’re turning down…well, does that make sense?


For my part, I will shop at one of my two shops in Uptown again this year.  And I did mention that large available balance in my health savings account right?



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