Sometimes You Have To Say No
Are you special?
Your Mum has told you that since you were small. Sure you might be a little less charming and talented than she says, but being special is something to bear in mind when you’re mapping out the future of your business.
We’ve spoken before about the benefits of being thrilling and special to someone (Positioning: Why Should Your Business Even Exist?) rather than taking the usual brand position of “yet another supplier of things you can already buy, but with a different logo color.”
Be upfront and admit what you are and aren’t good at. There is strength in saying “we don’t do that”.
It makes your special claims more believable. One of the biggest business lies is One Stop Shop syndrome, where a business claims to cover all your needs, but is mediocre at most of them.
It usually starts with brainstorming sessions on growth opportunities. How can we get more dollars out of our existing customers?
That’s an essential question every business should ask, but it often ends up with a printing company adding a terrible creative department so they can offer “total communication solutions”. Oh and what a surprise their creative concepts usually involve … lots of printing.
Or a bathroom warehouse that offers to do your bathroom design just to sell more taps and sinks. Customers expecting quality results from either of these businesses will be disappointed.
Treacherous Lying Vermin
When I had my marketing agency I stopped doing radio campaigns, because the same thing happened every time. I’d create a campaign across a range of media. If it included radio, we’d meet the radio station sales rep to book the spots. I’d write the ads, go into a studio with the voice-over artists, and make an ad that fitted in with the TV, digital and print.
Silly me I forgot radio station sales reps are treacherous vermin. I’ve written a lot on the positive things about sales reps. None of that applies in the scuzzy world of radio.
After every campaign they would call my client direct. “You don’t need to spend extra money on that wanker creative agency. We’re a one stop shop! We’ll write and produce the ads in-house at no cost, so you only pay for the airtime!”
There’s a special shelf in the Crap Marketing Hall of Fame for the no-cost ads made by radio station in-house writers, who have to crank out thirty spots a day and seem to have spent a lot of time working in theatre restaurants.
Their ads are mainly the client’s mandatory sales bullet points badly disguised as dialogue.
Hey I love your new car where did you get it?
It’s great isn’t it? I got it at Magic Mario’s Motor Mart, they offer the widest range with the lowest prices guaranteed, plus the friendliest service and flexible finance options!
Wow I think I’ll head over to Magic Mario’s now!
In-house radio writers use the same hack formulas over and over, like the one where the voiceover guy stops reading half way through the script and runs off to get his hands on those crazy bargains. To your radio station sales rep that is some serious brand-building comedy gold.
When you’re high on your own one-stop shop fumes, you lose track of the fact that your product is garbage and you are screwing the person who actually brought you the business.
For me, the One Stop was the bit where I stopped using radio ads.
The Slippery Slope To Outdoor Inflatables
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of clients happy to get a wider range of bad product from a single source. But clients who believe these kind of empty promises are easily lured away by empty promises from others, and they will dump your ass because someone else offered them the best price plus the highest quality and the fastest delivery. Come on down!
If you’re just starting out, the most efficient way to break through the Great Wall Of Customer Indifference is to set yourself apart from all these One Stop Shops, and deliver like a maniac on whatever that specific promise is.
As you get bigger, yes, you can expand what you do. It is true that it’s much easier to get a dollar of revenue out of an existing client than a new one. But before you do, check very carefully with your clients (and staff) that it’s actually something you can promise believably, and deliver well.
Or you’ll end up on the radio with Magic Mario, saying literally any shit to get some leads and thinking about whether to get some outdoor inflatables to attract passing traffic.
That wasn’t quite the business future you pictured, was it? You can do so much better than that. Focus.
If you liked this piece, you would also enjoy Business Survivor: Win The Disruption Wars.
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