I haven’t been writing as much lately, for a number of reasons; sold our condo, doing a major house Reno, got a new pup, recorded a full length CD and busier than crap at work. Anyway, I thought I should send one more out for 2012.
It was a good year for us and the industry too. Caution is still King but not as many complaints around…everyone has made the adjustments needed to cope with what seems to be “the new economy”.
The driver crisis hasn’t brought the industry to a standstill yet and somehow the folks at the helm of the various trucking operations will find their way through it. It’s a tough business but one that I have enjoyed supporting, in my small way, for what seems like a lifetime… 2013 is our 25th year!
There was a record turnout at the recent Toronto Transportation Club dinner and Don Cherry was certainly a factor in the increased attendance. Sports and transportation have always seemed to go hand in hand…a guy thing I guess. Still, more and more ladies are making their mark on the industry and they were well represented at the event.
We added a person in Montreal and it appears to be a tough market to crack for an English company, even though our guy there is French. I’ve spoken with some English carrier customers and they have found it equally difficult. We’re still working on that one. The reverse scenario appears to be true for our Quebec customers breaking ground in Ontario. If anyone has some tips on that one, they would gratefully be received by all.
We added an account manager in Toronto too, which has been a great help. We had continued to run a bit too lean coming out of the recession. We’ve seen many of our carrier customers start to add bodies as well…a good sign I hope.
We’re adding a young gal in the New Year to help with social media. As mentioned when I spoke at the recent Transportation Summit, Canadian transportation has some catching up to do in this area and we are gearing up to help further with this in 2013.
When I looked over our account list for 2012, I saw many loyal customers that have been with us for decades and something new…a high number of good size accounts that came as a result of our web marketing. The web in 2012 was good news for smaller companies. A shift is occurring, with more and more buyers sourcing on the web. Resource to resource, a 1 million dollar company can get as many opportunities from web marketing as a 200 million dollar company… if they are willing and able to create the same amount of content and use proper search engine optimization.
I’m still amazed when people today, running great companies, don’t put much stock in the power of the web to build their business, help with recruiting, or simply make a favourable impression on customers, suppliers and their carrier partner network. More than ever, it’s not “a” or “b” when it comes to choosing the best way to market, it’s “a, b, c, & d”. That will be our core message for the upcoming year. Add to your relationships and referral business, with the new techniques available…add to, not replace!
Best of the holidays to everyone and we’ll see you in the New Year.
Lee’s quote for the day
We get weekly inquiries from small and big business alike, asking for help with their marketing. But in my 25 years of business it was the first time the call was quite this desperate in nature. “I’m going to lose my business unless you can think of some way to save me.”
The first thing I thought of was “The Dragons Den” and all the small business people on the show who poured everything they had into their business only to hear comments like “walk away”, “stop the bleeding” and “it’s the worst idea I’ve ever heard”. Most didn’t listen to the advice. Most had no choice but to carry on with the dream as they were too far in to stop.
I remembered back to my early years in business and also the many suppliers I had that have fallen by the way, over the years. Being in business is tough and quite frankly it has never been tougher. The commoditization of products and the ease of finding comparable products and services through the internet make it a very competitive environment.
The answer is simple. You need something tangible that sets you apart and then you need to promote that difference to the marketplace. The principles of “Good to Great” ring true. You need to be passionate about the business you’re in, do it better than anyone else in your space and ensure that it is something required by your intended market… such that it provides a good economic return. In addition, most successful businesses also add diversification to the mix and provide complementary offerings that support their core service.
This particular business was geared to pre teen children’s entertainment. Their target was Mom’s with birthday parties within a ½ hour radius of their location. They had been in business for 7 years, had seen their business drop in half since the recession and as yet, had never taken a salary. I mentioned “The Dragon’s Den” and I could tell by the silence on the other end that her mind had gone there too. I decided to keep it positive. My tips were as follows:
1/Government assistance. There are government bodies that have been established for the sole purpose of counselling and providing funding for Canadian entrepreneurs. Check out what is available. I personally started my business with a $15,000 new venture loan back in 1988.
2/Groupons. There is no more immediate way to turn on the sales tap than utilizing the Groupon phenomenon to your advantage. If you have a consumer based product or service that is solid and priced well, it will bring people to your door. If you have a good product, they will come back again at full price. Most businesses can’t even handle the immediate sales volume this approach brings.
3/Your web presence. This “desperate” business had an out of date, all flash site that was not optimized for web searches or mobile devices at all. The photography was poor and the sales message was not clear. The best investment any small business can make is with their online marketing and most businesses don’t have the money to make that investment…the proverbial Catch 22.
4/ Social media. It’s here, it’s affordable and it’s feared by most over 40 but it is a super way to spread the word about your product or service, especially in consumer markets.
5/ Traditional methods of promotion. Don’t rule out postal walk mailings, Chamber of Commerce and Business Group networking, and traditional print advertising that reaches your target market. Get your story down and go shout it on the mountain. Make an offer to entice a trial run. But don’t sell price as your long term, unique selling proposition…as today there will always be someone cheaper. Make sure you are adding something to the mix that sets you apart. If you don’t have it, find it. If you can’t find it, make it up…and stand behind it like it matters most.
Lee’s Quote for the Day
“I feel sorry for entrepreneurs who see their business fail but even sorrier for those with a great idea who were afraid to give it a try. Sure you could lose everything, but at least half of us will eventually get divorced… so that’s going to happen anyway.”
For the past few months we have been working really hard on our new website. It represents a major improvement from our one page flash site that the new site has replaced. It is also probably one of the most visually appealing sites that I’ve worked on in a while. Though we still have some work to do in updating the blog, and some other areas of the site to mirror the new look, this website represents a new look and direction for Palmer Marketing. I just wanted to thank everyone involved in working on the site. You guys all did a great job.