When I read his pre-announcement last week my first thought (and comment) was: I wrote a whole book on the subject three years ago! Which would be a way, way too long post as my contribution for WILF. Robert kindly suggested I should give some excerpts, he would be happy to provide a 'promotion platform' for it - he's very generous, my turtle friend is.
I thought long and hard about which part of the 178 pages from my novel would describe best what the generosity of others can mean for a fledgling business.
(Mind you, I have always trouble keeping even short stories short - but I've done my best). I let you dive into my story almost at the beginning, where I meet this tremendously generous person - as it turns out later. And no, it's not the 'guru'.
Right, definitely another hour wasted. He fortunately has only another three minutes to impress us with his marketing knowledge, and then one of the Business Exhibition organisers opens the door to make an end to it, finally. Guru invites everyone to visit his stand at the exhibition where he has leaflets and brochures aplenty and will obviously try to sell some of his expensive consulting time.
Most of his ‘pupils’ gather round him for his business card, but I can’t be bothered. There is a throng of people blocking the escape route to coffee, fresh air and more interesting businesses at the Exhibition. When I finally struggle through and start making my way to one of the coffee bars a hand on my arm and a soft-spoken voice stops me in my track.
“Excuse me, Miss.”
It’s my fellow-rebel. I guess he’s around 55 going on 60, with greying hair where there’s still some left. He lets go of my arm and tries to hand me a business card, his I presume. Great, another consultant trying to part me from my hard-earned money. For the time being I ignore the card.
“I don’t think you were that impressed by his workshop.”
Right in one.
“No, can’t say I was.”
He slowly nods his head and looks at me to elaborate my statement. Oh well, why not, coffee will have to wait yet a bit longer.
“It seems nowadays there are no other marketing solutions than these so-called repeat sales. This is the third Business Exhibition this year I’ve been to and with each one you seem to have the same kind of workshops. I’m sure they are right, but just not for my type of business. Yet, they all promise to be THE suitable solution for ALL businesses. Which they are not.”
“And your type of business is? Definitely not car sales” he chuckles his soft chuckle again.
I can’t help but smile.
“No, not cars. Wooden flooring.” I retrieve one of my business cards from my jacket pocket and hand it over. “How many floors do you need in a year, eh?”
He studies my simple card.
“Very apt business name,” he comments with a smile, while offering his own card to me again.
How can I refuse now? Expecting to see yet another consulting bureau I’m surprised to see he is a chartered accountant. Like mine his card is simple: business name, address and contact numbers but the catch phrase catches my eye: ‘Adding more than just the numbers’.
Hmm, I wonder what?
My card has vanished in one of his pockets, while I’m still holding his. He taps my arm again.
“Back there, your remark was spot on, his method doesn’t apply to all business types. But there are many ways to increase business for a product like yours.”
Sure there are.
“Of course, I know that. But the only thing Mr Guru back there had right was that repeat business is the most easiest and cheapest to find. I’ve been to numerous other workshops, read numerous books about marketing strategies, but all ‘instant’ other ideas seem to cost the Earth and Moon together. Advertising only works well if you are able to repeat the same ad almost every week. Do you have any idea what a reasonable size ad in the simplest and smallest local paper costs these days? A small business like mine can hardly afford one a month.
Then I’m told I have to have a prominent presence on the Internet where search engines are the masters of the Cyber Universe. But you can tackle them I’m told at yet another workshop by implementing clever web marketing strategies, preferably done by the company who is giving out free workshops as if it’s the last thing they’ll do.”
Even I can hear the frustration creeping into my voice.
My fellow-rebel just waits patiently for me to continue. I sigh; I need coffee not another reminder of how my young business is struggling.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to sound so glum. I think I’m in the wrong kind of business, I should hold workshops myself: how to waste most of your valuable time listing to overpaid consultants at Business Exhibitions.”
“There are better organised workshops around.” He says. “Ones that can really make a difference to your business.”
Why didn’t I see that one coming I wonder? Next thing he will invite me to one of his own and I’m betting it’s not a free one either.
He surprises me again.
“You have my card. Give me call any time; I would love to hear more about your business. No obligations.”
No invitation to a workshop, no invitation to visit the stand of his company at the Exhibition, just no obligations.
And that's exactly what happened. True to his word: no obligations when I did call my 'fellow rebel' in real life. Unconditional, always very generously giving his advice to help us establish our business. In truth he believed earlier in our success than we ever did. And he's still 'at it' - setting me challenges, helping out, keeping me sane in hectic and troubled times. And never ever any obligations in his generousity.
Over at the Kiss2 dynamic website (aka blog) I'm giving the E-version of my debut novel away when you subscribe to the blog-alerts there. I thought I just copy the webform here if you like to read the whole story.
Feel free to take me up on this offer: no obligations! And my generous friend even wrote the foreword in it - just like that!