We were very excited to be offering a seminar for tax professionals through the Employee Stock Option Advisors Association, LLC. We thought we had a good list from email newsletter subscriptions. The sales letter seemed compelling.
After a week, you could hear the grasshoppers chirping. There was no response.
I consulted with direct marketing expert Dan Kennedy. "There is obviously something wrong. You have built a relationship with these people, so they should be receptive to you. You are going to have to do some unpleasant spadework. You have to call these people and ask them what they didn't like about your offer." (Visit Dan Kennedy's web site at www.dankennedy.com.)
After calling several people on the "professional tax advisors" list, I found that people were confused about our newsletter signup procedure. Almost all of the people on the list were not professional tax advisors. I wasn't talking to the audience I thought I was. We have since asked the newsletter readers to identify themselves by category and have changed the signup procedure. Hopefully this will help for future offers.
At one of Dan Kennedy's conferences, I met Rory Fatt. Rory became successful selling gourmet "take out" food with his "Simple Salmon" business in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He sold that business and has another successful business helping independent restaurant owners with marketing. Rory said some significant things. "With the take out business, I thought my market was single working people. It turned out they were mostly retired people. For the restaurant marketing systems business, I thought I would be teaching restaurant owners how to use the take out business to improve their profits. It turned out that was too complicated for them. They simply wanted more customers." (Restaurant owners can write to Rory at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
So it turns out we get back to basics. We have to identify a responsive market and find a way to communicate with them (media). It doesn't really matter what we want to sell. We need to find out what they want to buy.
We can try to guess these things, but we will save time and money by actually listening to our customers.
For new articles about how to improve your business, subscribe to our newsletter, Michael Gray, CPA's Tax & Business Insight!