Anyone who knows me knows that my main objective in all things is to do what I can, to help those I can, as best I can. It is so deeply engrained in me that no matter how I try, I often find myself giving away information that others say I should almost ALWAYS charge for or put behind an email signup box. It's just not me and I'll never get past it...hopeless I guess.
To that end, I will often browse the Q&A boards and read the posts put out by small business owners seeking advice on growing their business. Many of these business owners need help with everything from growing their customer base to understanding how social media marketing works and I always do my best to give them as valuable an answer as I can to their small business question.
What I'm finding lately, however, is that no matter how good the advice may be, whether it is mine or from someone else, the business owner's own belief often trumps the advice being given, EVEN THOUGH THEY SOLICITED IT!
Here is a recent example:
A home based business owner was creating gourmet cookie baskets for her local customer base, but was seeking ways to attract new customers in her area. Her cookies are all gourmet style and handmade from scratch. For this she charges a premium. She had noted that she received a request from a potential customer for a sample of her gourmet cookies so that she could test the quality for herself. The problem being noted by the poster was that there was a great deal of work that goes into creating a batch of cookies and she was hedging at creating an entire batch just to hand off a few samples.
My advice to her was to create the entire batch, offer the customer the samples and use the rest of the batch to market to her existing customers. I explained that since her customer base was mostly local she could spend the afternoon visiting the customers she could and handing out a THANK YOU FOR YOUR LOYALTY reward in the form of a few of her gourmet cookies. Her existing customer would be pleasantly surprised at the unexpected recognition and would surely remember her and most likely rave on about her.
Although this seemed like sound advice, it was met with the following:
"I believe what you are offering may make sense to you but to me it just seems like I would now be spending even more time and money than just making a batch and giving it away for free."
True story. My first response was to type out a long explanation or even call to further expand on the power of this gesture, but in the end I decided to let it alone.
There is another story I often tell about an older client of mine who was dead set against social media marketing. He was in his mid 50s and very much 'tech challenged'. His only interaction with social media was watching his adult children on "The Facebook", as he referred to it, and something about birds. I made numerous pleas to get him into the social realm since many of his customers were young adults. I had shown him how his competitors were already there and although he was arriving to the party late, we could still make a splash. He wouldn't budge. He felt there was absolutely zero value in this activity and that, at best, it was a time waster. So we renewed his yellow pages ad and moved on.
My point in all of this, if you haven't already guessed, is that an open mind can often be your most valuable small business tool and by shutting down ideas which may seem foreign, without even trying them, may leave good money on the table. So before you just shut it down, take a little time to explore it's potential. Don't let old habits, inexperience or fear take over before you at least test the idea.
Do some research and learn a bit more about the system or talk to other business owners you know and see if they are trying it. Get out of the habit of simply dismissing them and may find some very useful ways to grow your small business.