After I wrote my last post “Twenty Years on and still going strong” I got to wondering a little on the subject of success & failure and what can make or break a business, sometimes before it even takes off.
I worked for a guy once for three months on his start-up. Now he was a great salesman and sold me completely on his business which was aimed at helping people develop themselves through seminars that he was going to run on a regular basis. He had purchased a training “kit” for a lot of money as a franchisee, he was advertising in the local papers (not cheap!) about all the seminars up and down the south coast of England and he had recruited a “Marketing Guru” 3 months previously, to kick start the business, sort all the advertising for him, design his website and kick off the business.
I later found out that the part-time consultant/marketing “guru” cost him £2000 per month as a retainer + expenses. The website cost him £150000 to produce through a web developer that the GuruMan had suggested to him (again the top end of the local scene). The venues for the training courses were 4* + and therefore expensive – but he was planning to promote the “right” image and charging a lot for the course.
I also discovered, that the one issue the “GuruMan” had not addressed was that of networking with the local businesses, chamber of commerce and local people.
So the guy was paying out a ton of money before even knowing what would sell and how fast. This was the stage that I entered the picture and it was all dependent on the people who answered the adverts being pitched into coming and spending their money.
He was assured by the GuruMan that he would get hundreds of calls and had employed me to book these clients to attend the seminar that was advertised to tak place a few days from the date of entry in the newspaper. Then I was to send out information and also get referrals from them and so on.
Apart from the ads in the local paper there were also a number of posters displayed in “strategic” venues (Hovercraft, Ferry and Train Terminals mainly). These posters announced the seminars and suggested you call them. There was no carrot-dangling incentive to get people writing down the number and dialing us up and there was no way of recording how many people might have seen the Ad except when they called and I asked how they had heard of us.
No-one called from the posters. When the Ad went in the newspaper a few people started to call. On day one I spoke to 3 people, on day 2 another 4. After that the odd call to enquire how much it cost. All wanted to know what it was about (his advert had been vague), many wanted to know where and when it started, a few couldn’t come and all were not keen or shocked when they heard the price. However, by the time of the seminar the next weekend, we did have 5 attendees.
Mt P was amazed that he hadn’t had hundreds of calls and started to worry about the response. Obviously on his first seminar he was out of pocket or broke even at best.
I suggested we do some outbound research calls to local companies (SME sized) re training & staff development & try to develop business for him this way. I also offered to attend Chamber of Commerce and loads of other networking events and researched for as many of these as I could find. Also offering to go and pitch the seminars or training modules/courses to clients, I suggested this way to assist in drumming up business.
I was pretty amazed when I started to call businesses and soon discovered that no-one had really heard of the Company! SO much for advertising and posters eh?
In addition, I suggested to Mr. P that he spend a lot of time networking, researching and developing some leads himself before he spent out more on his website (too fussy) seminars (not enough takers) and adverts (not effective enough)
Having said that, now shouldn’t this business development role have been part of the well-paid Gurus marketing plan and remit, really.
Being a fairly tight community where we were, they tend to be open to new business when they get to know you through word-of-mouth referrals etc. So if GuruMan had networked effectively surely there would be openings? As Mr. P was not of the community and GuruMan was, we had anticipated some business.
Local SME’s work to tight budgets – so trusting a business is important to them .Mr. P had relied on this GuruMan to open doors for him.
However, I subsequently discovered from a number of my own business contacts that GuruMan had a bad vibe and a bad rep within the business community – he was expensive and had worked for others at a high price without delivering the promised expectations. Ooopps!
I ended my contract after the 3 month stage as Mr. P was now out of pocket and decided to shelve the whole thing for now. He would not do any of the hands-on work himself and had no inclination to pay out money to have staff develop it further for him.
I revert to my original statement – people & their attitudes to work and life – were in this case a big issue:
GuruMan was the greedy clever beneficiary in financial terms from this whole arrangement.
Mr. P was rather naive in possibly not checking the GuruMan out as I did – a couple of phone calls were all it took me! He also was not prepared to get down and dirty to involve himself in the nitty-gritty work of developing his own business.
Me? Well, I prefer not to work with people who are greedy or purely self-serving and who really don’t have respect for hard work or any integrity in what they do. Maybe I am old-fashioned but I do believe that everything we do in life will come back to us – tenfold – and that is always comforting to know