June 25, 2017
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – Richard Buckminster ‘Bucky’ Fuller, American architect, systems theorist, published author of more than 30 books, designer and inventor.
Two of the very first lessons in business I learned were: “If you take care of the pennies the dollars will take care of themselves” and “the easiest dollar you can earn is the one you do not spend.” While these two sayings might sound alike they are actually very much different.
In some of my previous columns I’ve discussed unnecessary waste when it comes to advertising, marketing and social media. For the most part the discussions concentrated on knowing and understanding your current and potential customers. But in digging deeper there may be a bigger problem that is causing financial stress on your company; obsolete business practices.
In today’s business world of smart phones, tablets and laptops, would you ever even consider using rotary telephones, typewriters, mimeograph machines or beepers? Of course not. Those items are obsolete. They are dinosaurs of eras past and you would be wasting valuable time and resources if you tried competing in today’s environment with such archaic technology.
Each year more and more common business practices become outdated and inefficient and unfortunately because there are usually companies that survive by offering goods and services related to those practices, they stick around longer than they should. So, here are a few business practices that you should avoid, pardon the pun, at all cost.
Advertising in the Yellow pages.
Do you still let your fingers do the walking? Unless you are specifically targeting customers who are over the age of 70, the best thing to do is save your money or redirect it to a method that works. The odds are you haven’t used the Yellow Pages in years and if you haven’t it’s a pretty safe bet that neither have your customers. These days when you want a phone number you probably Google it. Well if you do, they do. Depending on the industry you are in, the cost of acquiring a customer through the Yellow Pages (which includes their online version by the way) can range anywhere from four to ten times the cost of acquiring them through targeted email marketing, social media or Google AdWords advertising.
Within 3-to-5 years this will be a thing of the past. So if you’re still using it, why wait? With today’s computer printers and copy machines doing double duty as computer scanners, you can not only save money on a land line and paper, but you can get rid of that bulky apparatus from your desk. Think of the time it would take to print and fax a 20-page document you created. Now think how long it would take to save that document as a PDF file and attach it as an email. As we all say, time is money. You get the picture.
As Sarah Khogyani pointed out in an April 2013 article on nimble.com: “The reason cold-calling emerged as an effective sales technique, was because phoning people was the only way to reach them (except for snail mail). Somewhere along the way, it got out of hand, and cold-calling became the (annoying) industry standard.” Why pay an employee to make these calls? It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack and it often discourages your employee because of the constant rejection. More cost-effective ways to create leads today include using targeted email and social media campaigns that provide a call to action to a potential customer such as filling out a form so the customer knows someone from your firm will be contacting them about the goods or services you provide.
Auto Dialers with Pre-Recorded Sales Messages.
Aside from now being illegal in many states, nothing quite pisses off people more than getting an annoying sales call and you can multiply that by 10 if it’s an automated message. While there is nothing wrong with using this technology to offer reminders of appointments, late payments and other similar messages to your current customer base, using it to engage new customers does your business more harm than good. And if you were sold on the idea that it’s a cost effective way to build your business because the dialers are going to call every number in a specific area, think again. Would you do business with a company that solicited you through a pre-recorded message? Now, ask yourself, why would your customers do business with you?
Will you really buy Nespresso (the brand name of Nestlé espresso) because actors George Clooney and Danny DeVito drank it in a TV commercial? In 2014 Unruly Media surveyed the ad shares from the Superbowl and discovered that the TV commercials featuring celebrities – ranging from the Muppets to Ellen Degeneres – were not even close to having the impact on social media that the Budweiser commercial of showing a puppy finding its way home had. Companies are now shifting toward finding and building relationships with trusted industry influencers. Unless you are a celebrity yourself, don’t spend money on something that will not pay for itself. Even if you are thinking about using a local celebrity like a professional athlete, save your money UNLESS that person also happens to be an industry influencer and then ask yourself if you can get another industry influencer who is just as impactful for a lot less money.
While the examples above represent obsolete business practices that are directly related with hard dollar costs, there are many other outdated practices associated with effectiveness and productivity, which in the long run translate to hard dollars. Before going through your Rolodex today, ask yourself if there would be a quicker and more efficient way to find that phone number you are looking for, perhaps on a computer database or in your cell phone contact list? After you do that, take a step back and start thinking about all the other ways you can increase your effectiveness and productivity.