It’s football season again, and nothing gets us more animated than cheering for our favorite team. Its 15 seconds to go in the fourth quarter and the opposing team is up by 4. A field goal does no good. Facing 4th and 12, you have to go for the touchdown, no question. The quarterback steps back out of the pocket, his favorite target is open for the touchdown… we are all on our feet! To…to — touchdown? Nope, an interception. Sigh!
Isn’t that how we feel sometimes in our business? We prepare all week long, we get our best defense and offense together, and on game day we get in the huddle so we can execute the game winning play and bam… no touchdown! What a letdown!
For months, my team and I prepared for the bridal show. We were excited and motivated because we finally had the opportunity to interact with brides, build our list, and book some honeymoons or destination weddings. We had our game face on, we had a plan together, and went in feeling confident – we were going to walk away with a good amount of appointments that would lead to bookings. We walked away with about 25 appointments and at the end of the week we got a list of leads of less than 200 brides. What? All that money, all that effort for 150 leads?
Not to be beaten, the following week, I head to the venue for another event that I had planned months ago – a Sandals Romance Night. I had rented a space for 50 people and had so many affirmative responses that I had to put people on a waitlist. I arrive and I am totally pumped. It’s 7:00pm and only 1 couple has arrived. It’s 7:30pm and I am now really nervous, the event was scheduled to begin at 7pm… I am calling people to see if they are coming, I am looking at my watch and I am looking at all this food and think OMG.
Where are all these people that said they were coming? I had sent so many reminders the day before, and the day of; yet here I am sitting and waiting with tons of food, liquor and a full lineup of featured speakers and entertainers but only 2 attendees. Around 7:45pm, a few people trickled in and by the end of the night, we had around 8 couples and the evening turned out to be fun. But despite all the fun, I had a check that I had to cut at the end of the night to the venue. I also realized that I had no potential bookings. My mind couldn’t help but think what an expensive evening with little or no hope of bookings. What an expensive month – a failed bridal show and now a failed Sandals Romance Night. This was not in the playbook, our play was intercepted and we had no touchdown and there is no time on the clock.
As I look back over many other marketing initiatives, I sighed. It’s the kind of thing that happens a lot. You have to market but there is absolutely no guarantee of the ROI. Everyone talks about a marketing plan and budget. As a small business owner, who has a marketing budget? What do you do when it seems like your marketing efforts and dollars are not anywhere close to the end zone, no touchdown? Just like a quarterback who just threw an interception and wants to get back on the field to redeem himself, so it was with me. There has to be something else that will work.
Whether or not there is a marketing budget or a great return on the investment we make, one thing can be certain: there are lessons to be learned. Maybe the list with fewer than expected brides or the low attendance were not failures after all. As I sat down and looked at everything, I made a decision to take a different approach. Instead of looking at the events as failed event, I started to see the benefits and improvements that I can make. My first thought — you have 150 leads, so what are you going to do with them? I crafted a series of 7 emails and set those up to go out every 7 days. Not only that, I monitored the first email that was sent, studied the results and used that to modify the headlines in successive broadcasts to increase my open rate.
Regardless what obstacles we face, we can learn how to use those obstacles to fine-tune our process. My biggest defensive line is “don’t quit.” There has to be some marketing approach that will work, some event that will yield a great audience, somewhere out there is an audience ready to purchase our services.
If you didn’t win this week’s game, start planning for the game next week. Go over your plays, see what holes you have in your offense or defense, study your opponent, and come back with your game face on for next week. Quitting is just not an option!
Judith White is the owner at White Sand Travel in Stone Mountain, Georgia. The full service agency specializes in destination weddings, honeymoon, and romance travel planning for busy couples that want an incredible vacation experience without the stress of planning it. You can find Judith online at whitesandtravel.net