Marketing is always a topic that comes up over lunch when out on sales calls these days, particularly for those not as busy as they hoped to be. Except, there are very few surprises for those seasoned which execute a marketing plan. They understand their costs to acquire a new lead, response rates for their direct mail and digital ad campaigns, and even revenue per lead.
So, when I had a recent conversation with a contractor obviously struggling in an otherwise booming market, and they have no leads the hottest week of the year right after a holiday, I expected to hear a list of failed attempts that need to be tweaked, right? No, when I asked what they have done for marketing since January, I heard the most astonishing answer: Nothing! I wish I could tell you how their latest and greatest twist resulted in hundreds of leads, but they tried NOTHING! At first, I felt very bad for the contractor. I thought just through conversation that they would ‘see the light’ and ask for some suggestions, but instead resulted in a defensive conversation about how the phone not ringing wasn’t their fault! Then, the rest of the speech reminded me of a newspaper article that I cut out from an author unknown about 10 years ago - which I happen to keep on the cover of my collection of business cards as a reminder: “Buy a Hot Dog Mister?”. Of course, this should teach a lesson, but I will not state the obvious as I have learned that depending on your current perspective, this short story can spur even the most dedicated to try something new.
Buy a Hot Dog Mister?, Author: Unknown
A man lived on the side of the road and sold hot dogs.
He was hard of hearing, so he had no radio.
He had trouble with his eyes, so he read no newspapers.
But, he sold good hot dogs.
He put up a sign on the highway telling how good they were.
He stood by the side of the road and cried: “Buy a hot dog, Mister?”
And people bought.
He increased his meat and roll orders. He bought a bigger stove to take care of his trade. He got his son from college to help him.
But then something happened…
His son said, “Father, haven’t you been listening to the radio?” If money stays ‘tight', we are bound to have bad business. There may be a depression coming on.
You had better prepare for bad trade.
Whereupon the father thought, “Well, my son has been to college. He reads the papers and he listens to the radio and he ought to know.”
So the father cut down on his meat and roll orders, took down his advertising sign, and no longer bothered to stand on the highway to sell hot dogs.
And his hot dog sales fell overnight.
“You’re right son,” the father said to the boy.
“We are certainly headed for a depression.”