Don’t Send a Raven. Use Modern Methods For Communicating With Customers.
It happened again today.
I opened my box in the mailroom, hoping for something interesting, but finding nothing but ads and coupons. Grocery stores, weekend sales, and the ever-present envelope filled with local businesses and their coupon-of-the-week.
Did I need $50 off tree stump removal? $200 off new gutters? Not today, thanks.
What boggles my mind though is that businesses continue to invest so much money into these kinds of advertising mechanisms. To me, it’s seems like they’re sending ravens.
In Game of Thrones, author George R. R. Martin has crafted a fantasy world that somewhat resembles medieval Europe. There are castles and knights, pageantry and peasants… and no organized communication system. The only ways to communicate are to send a written message by carrier on horseback, or to use a trained raven.
Ravens are intelligent birds and cared for by a highly trained group of individuals called maesters. The maesters keep a roost of ravens, and each has been conditioned to fly specifically from one location to another.
When a maester wants to send a message from Winterfell to King’s Landing, he just selects the right raven, attaches his message, and releases the bird. (Of course, there are no more ravens in Winterfell, but that’s a topic for another day.)
If you think about it, I’m sure you can see how unreliable it is to use a raven to deliver a message. A raven could get lost, hurt, captured, or even killed by another predator. The message itself could come loose and fall while in flight, or simply fail to communicate due to the brevity needed.
To say nothing of the cost and mess that keeping a few dozen ravens in your attic creates.
Yet now, in the “modern” world, small businesses are still sending ravens.
I looked up the company that puts together these local packs of coupons and direct mail messages where I’m at in St. Louis. To reach just 10,000 local households with a single coupon, a business would likely have to cough up $400!
But of course we know that 10,000 households aren’t going to actually see this coupon, or even be interested in it. The only thing the business owner knows about these households is that they’re in a specific geographic area, and that they have a mailing address.
There’s no targeting, and no guarantee that anyone will open the envelope and pay attention to their coupon.
They’re just sending out flocks of ravens, hoping that some of the messages get through. (Is it ironic then that the old term for a flock of ravens was an unkindness?)
Instead, businesses should be leveraging the incredible options, efficiency and affordability of modern communication methods. Websites. Email. Social Media. These platforms have the incredible benefit of being relatively low-cost, highly targetable, and re-usable.
An SBI! website, for instance, costs less than $1 a day, and can be used to reach thousands and thousands of targeted, interested customers.
Couple that with an advertising campaign on Facebook, and you can begin to put your business directly in front of the people who are most likely to be interested in you and your business. $400 on Facebook might get your ad in front of tens of thousands of prospects. And the beauty of a Facebook ad campaign is that you only pay when someone clicks your ad, resulting in hundreds of actual leads, all attributable to that campaign.
Now, I’m not saying that all direct mail or even all traditional advertising and marketing is bad. It’s not. Many businesses can find tremendous success using those platforms and techniques.
But for most startups and solopreneurs, money is tight. You may only have a total of $500 in your marketing budget. How you spend each dollar needs to be scrutinized and bring back significant returns. Therefore, you need to make sure that you’re investing in the most efficient marketing methods available.
With $500, you can build a website, start sharing your knowledge, create relationships on social media, and invite interested people to sign up for your mailing list. Certainly, the more time and effort (and money) you’re able to invest in your marketing, the faster your brand and business will grow. But even a meager budget will go a long way if you’re using modern methods for communicating with customers.
So leave the ravens in Westeros, and start using all that the Internet has to offer small businesses today.
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