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The story you are about to read is true except for some exaggerations which were made up. The names have been changed to protect those involved or because no one can remember them.
Earl was a run of the mill, middle aged guy that blended naturally in a crowd. But there was one element that made him stand out. He knew tricks. Lots of them. And he knew just how to put them to use.
Florida nights were hopping with ball games, movies, clubs, you name it. People were out having a great time and that’s probably what gave him the idea.
How could it not work? Who would not pay a reasonable price to come to a magic show? Can’t you see it? Families will come from everywhere, there will be music and popcorn, laughter and applause. And amazement. Lots of that. And so, it was on. The building was rented, the chairs delivered, the sound system tested and three weeks of non-stop advertising on the radio. When you hear “non-stop,” you’re likely thinking “frequent,” but almost literally it was, “89.9FM All Earl, All the Time.”
The place was bound to be packed out. Fifteen hundred seats lined the auditorium. Let’s roll.
It was the big night and at five minutes before show time, Earl waited nervously back stage. A timid peek from behind the curtain revealed only thirty people in the audience. Seventeen from the local magic club, eight who were hired to run the concession stand and a guy named Charlie with his wife and two kids. Also, Earls mama. A disappointing turn out but on a brighter note, everyone got a front row seat.
What went wrong? In a town of over 61,000 people and round the clock ads, only a few people show up?
Isn’t a family magic show a great idea? Absolutely. Could the problem perhaps be in the marketing? Let’s examine. He could have had the best show since Houdin Thurstonfield but without the right approach, the attendance was destined to fall flat.
And so it goes with business. Enterprises begin every day and fight for each dollar. They scream and yell for attention but alas the time gives out before the money rolls in and, like Earl’s great show, it’s “Curtains.”
Markets are conversations.
The easiest method for growing a business is to throw money at marketing but if that were all it took, most of us would be sunning ourselves by the seashore sporting tiny umbrella in a fruity drink with pineapple. Of course, advertising works but only as part of a much larger effort to capture and build lasting business relationships.
Interesting that the reason so many businesses fail is not due to a faulty product but a faulty communication. An effective marketing campaign should stir a response, it should begin a conversation. It should give a compelling reason for the client to reach out and receive a benefit.
Monologues that merely bellow, “Buy my product,” mainly serve to reduce the resources of the business that is already struggling. Like a game of chess, the entrepreneur should make a move, then ask his listener to make a move. This creates a dialog that leads to problem solving benefits and thereby income for the well deserving concern.
Through ads, emails, mailings, calls, bonuses, campaigns and even personal visits, we are able to create a viable relationship out of which commerce can emerge. As a wise mentor once said, “Business is still done, person to person.“ This is true even of the largest companies as the customer gets the sense that a real person is involved somewhere in the process.
Had Earl begun his quest with a smaller group and built interest, had he tested his market, built a fan base, offered exciting previews and given them a chance to feel a part of the effort, he could have seen great results. Had he communicated in various ways and developed creative options through which they could respond, he might have packed the house.
As it is, he saw the result of a single effort, one-way business conversation. Success is an exchange. It is never a note but always a symphony.