Guest Post by Richard Harmer Brady Media Group
Over the past 7-8 years I’ve worked in marketing and brand development for myself and currently I’m a partner and Brand Strategist for Brady Media Group. It all “started” when I was 20 years old.
A close friend of mine and business owner in Atlanta, GA wanted to speak with me about how to get him more business with those in my demographic. He’s been in business over 35 years and is over 60 years old. Much of his business comes from the younger generation…me. So, basically he needed some expert advice from a 20 year old!
He asked me a ton of questions and just listened to me blab on about my life. I look back now and realize exactly what he was doing. He wanted to pick my brain. I’m not an idiot, so I sort of picked up on what he was doing during our conversations. What seemed the obvious to me was not at all the obvious to him. Even at times during some of our conversations, I thought why wouldn’t you do that? Neither he, nor his staff could see what I could.
I had to explain why we younger people do some of the things we do. I realized during this time that he may not be the only business owner that needed such incredible knowledge (ha). I was sure that others needed the assistance, from a 20 year old, with little business experience. I was right! Others did! Real business owners were calling me, asking me questions! They were asking me all kinds of stuff! Now, I’m pretty savvy, but more than savvy I have some common sense. I see things as they are, without all the “fluff” and BS. Needless to say I didn’t charge them a penny, I didn’t know I could. Seems obvious I would charge, right? That’s the whole point of this article! What may be apparent to some, may not be apparent to others, even the guys who seem to have ALL the answers.
Many times business owners get so caught up “running” the business they neglect to evolve, stay up to date with current trends and strategically positioning their company for future success. This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Starting the company from the very beginning to handle growth and opportunities will keep the business from imploding or exploding later. It’s common sense. It is a bit of a balancing act however, but using some common sense will go along way.
Whatever demographic your business relies on, “become” it! If your demographic is kids, follow your own kids around, listen to them, or listen to other family members kids. Compile the information you’ve come up with by “becoming” your key demographic or key buyer. Be one of them… it’s common sense. Understand your buyer! Take the time to listen; don’t try to sell them on your stuff or your company, just listen. They will tell you exactly what to do next.
For example: Blockbuster is in a huge transition period with their business. They’re between the digital world and the “going to the store to rent a movie world”. This is a hard time for them. This could have been their chance to pull way ahead and positions themselves better for the future. All they had to do was UNDERSTAND who the buyers, or renters in this case were, what they were doing for fun and how they were watching movies!!
They had ALL the resources, the name, the demographics and the reach. Blockbuster had one hell of an opportunity, but failed to use common sense and acknowledge what was happening. Common sense seems nonexistent when these types of companies become nothing but a complex bureaucracy. This is or was a multibillion dollar company that thinks they have all the answers. Well, they don’t! The industry they’re in, as of today, is an industry they could’ve led, they chose not to. They settled into a complex, no use of common sense, soon to be bankrupt company with little chance to succeed. It didn’t have to be that way.
So all business owners and executives, ATTENTION! Crawl out from your mahogany desk, get in the trenches and LISTEN to the people that want to buy your product. Look around on the internet and find out what’s going on. Join the conversation…it’s already going on without you. Chances are, there are blogs on the internet that say why your company sucks. Use common sense and it won’t be like trying to look into a crystal ball to see where to go or what to do next.
Common sense tells me the internet and your “following” will tell you a lot about what you could do next. They, the consumers, are in control now…not you. Sometimes you have a rare opportunity to lead your entire industry into the direction you want it to go. Sometimes using a little bit of common sense instead of business sense will be the very thing that opens opportunities that could lead your business in the direction the industry is going! Think about it.
Richard Harmer, Brand Strategist — Brady Media Group