“You can check out anytime you like but you can never leave”. What an awesome song, and would you believe it was recorded by The Eagles 40 years ago? Like hello you can go to any bar anywhere in the world and once the karaoke is on you can be guaranteed you will hear some Chinese, Indian, African, German, Italian you name it nationality belting that song out and playing Air Guitar when the lead break arrives.
Is this blog about international singing and drinking? No, but the theme behind this month’s blog is that one line in that awesome song, “You can check out anytime you like but you can never leave” Yes that one line sums it up and an issue in the business world of today, something that has become almost an addiction to all those that have hung up a shingle and printed business cards.
Yes, if a new song was written maybe the verse would relate to the Hotel Google, and once you check in, once you get addicted to the holy grail called "Front Page" and the never-ending quest to find it, you can never leave.
Yep, you’re stuck in that Hotel and you will never visit another as that quest for Front Page, the belief that has been driven by the 'You need that Front page, it’s all that matters' of many an enticing SEO Email from some obscure place in India or some place that ends in STAN, tells you no way can check out baby. Yes, it doesn’t matter what else you do it’s that front page that is going to make you a gold card holding success story ready to sign up for the corporate jet!
But you know what? I think there is another song we need to start playing, we need to start humming the tune to another Eagles song when opening those emails, we need to sing along to “Lying Eyes”
Yes, folks, I think we have been sold the biggest lemon story of all time, there is more to life than just spending all our hard-earned cash chasing that front-page position, there are other ways to get those customers pounding on the front door, getting that phone to ring off the hook, get those tables reserved, sell those awesome clothes, get people dancing in those new shoes, it’s an age-old system that was around way before Larry Page and Sergey Bin went through puberty (Google Founders).
That system? Promotion driven by another lost art called Imagination all wrapped up in good old fashioned hard work.
But let me make it simple, Promotion? Tell people you’re in business. Yep, hand out business cards, blast it on Facebook, use your website, change it often. Tell people you have great offers, write them on the back of business cards, post them on Facebook have them as popups on your website and get them to tell others and reward them for doing so. Yes, repeat business, referral business will do awesome things for your business and it’s a lot cheaper than what the friendly Indian or Uzbekistan SEO hero is going to charge.
So, consider those “Lying Eyes” and “Check out of that Hotel”, get creative with your website and your promotions and I guarantee you that soon you will be drinking those “Tequila Sunrise” as you enjoy “Life in the fast Lane” (Wow I got four eagles Songs into the ending LOL)
If you are a motor mechanic and a customer walked in to ask for a tune and an oil change, would you offer them a seat on a nice cozy couch, make them a coffee, escort their family to send them into a service bay, work away with tender loving care for a few hours, present the keys back to the customer, say "Hey it's on us" and smile as they drove off?
I could ask the same question to a pub owner, a butcher, a baker, even a candlestick maker saying, "would you provide any service at all and just take a smile as payment?"
Okay, in between you saying to yourself, "Has TheCamel lost it, is he crazy?" Let me ask why. As in, why would you not do all that work for free?
Well, you have bills to pay, employees to consider, you must make a living as the old saying goes "Money doesn't buy happiness," well, let me say that your life would be miserable without money, fast.
The only problem? There is a lot going on in this world for free! FREE websites, FREE Software, FREE Social Media, FREE all sorts of things and people are clamoring for free stuff. This now leads us to the topic of this blog, "There is no such thing as a free lunch!"
Somewhere along the line, somebody must make money out of something, so they'd avoid the miserable category.
Free Website Builder? Of course, it's free but the hosting is not, and if you want the site to look great, we hope and pray that your technical ability is above left and right click of a mouse and also, beyond drag 'n drop. Then, if you need any of the sexy features, oops! Sorry, they are not free but seeing as you're halfway done might as well pay for those, too hard? Well, we can give you online help but that will cost you $X.
Free applications and software, wow great idea! You can really make the site shine now, but that is just the standard. You can't do anything free version with ads (as we need to pay for stuff you know). So hope you don't mind if your customers get the occasional pop-up video of Dolores Bath, House and Spa weekly specials. But, you need the app or software now you're in, so best to drag out the trusty Visa card.
All a bit much? Well, what about Facebook? Hey, you can make a free business web presence on that, no need at all for a website. You will even save yourself the hosting fees.
Great idea! But hang on, do you really think they will share with all your likes for free all those sexy posts about exclusive offers you're making? Be fair, they have multi-zillion on dollar salaries to pay, so sorry if you want all your customers to see what you're offering? That will cost you money each time and if they don't like your posts, sorry, that's all subject to the automated customer (read Robotic) service department of Facebook. So maybe you will have to adjust it to some zillion times to make it more of a picture than an offer, but hey, it's free!
Let's not also forget they are not just your customers, they belong to Facebook and they can also use the information to send competitor ads as well.
So, it's time folks, what's the point of all this today, am I anti-free stuff? No, I'm not. What I am trying to say is not all things for your business growth should be put in the FREE basket. The things that are super important, those first customer impressions - your website, those customer grabbing needs like SEO, booking services, etc. Maybe they are important enough to invest a little, to maybe look at experts to help you.
Then, your business can move towards the success path you want and deserve, and you can buy people lunch!
Elton John had a famous song, “Sorry seems to be the hardest word”. Elton John and Bernie Taupin wrote the song about a romantic relationship which is falling apart. The song has a chorus that pretty much explains the heartache, “So sad, so sad, why can’t we just talk it over, sorry seems to be the hardest word”.
Oh, the tears are falling on my keyboard as I type those words.
Must be honest, I really disagree with Elton and Bernie, I really don’t think “Sorry” is the hardest word, I think NO is.
Think about it for a minute, if we said “NO” more often we would not have to say sorry, would we? Most relationships get into trouble as one or the other didn’t say NO to a mistake so ended up in a so sad, so sad SORRY conversation. Many people have lost their license as they didn’t say, “NO” to the last drink and end up so sad.
So sad your honor and I am truly “Sorry” for what I did as they get their license taken away.
You could look at most, “Sorry” conversations and it would be a good bet that if you or somebody else had said, “NO” there would not be a conversation and nobody would be getting into trouble or feeling sad sad situation.
So, what has this song got to do with websites and SEO and other business-related stuff? Well I’m glad you asked that question. Let me share my thoughts.
A lot of issues with non-performing websites those being ones that don’t convert lookers into buyers, and SEO work that does not convert to good rankings that allow people to find your website, both of which usually have a “Sorry” it’s not working conversation attached either with a designer or you with your customers or business partners could have been different if somebody said NO.
No to what, you might be asking? Well, in the case of the website, NO to way too much insignificant content, NO to lots of bells, whistles and moving objects that really have no impact, NO to a major focus on the desktop and not enough on the mobile. NO, to features and fixtures that have no focus on getting people to book and buy. NO to way too much reading and not enough clicking to action.
With SEO? NO to key words or phrases that will not narrow down the search to you, your business, where you are and what you sell or supply. NO to wanting to win a global search when you’re making hamburgers in downtown suburbia.
The good news? Unlike the song, the relationship can be fixed, a little bit of good SEO work, informative website design, will set the right music and have your business singing a love song to your customers and Google and then? No need for “Sorry”, you can move onto another song like “Happy Days are here again”.
I live in a fantastic city, it’s alive, it’s vibrant, shopping centers are busy, super market checkouts are long and the trolleys are full. I see more and more new cars on the road. It’s super exciting! A sign that all is doing well and prosperity is happening.
With all this success you start to see newer commercial buildings sprouting up to occupy the skyline and even old ones going through renovations. These commercial spaces need people to fill them and I imagine some people, young and old getting the old entrepreneurial juices running once they see a little spare cash in the bank account or maybe other family members have and they are the ones to take down the for-rent sign.
Yes, suddenly, these new cashed up wanna-be-successful business people get a flash in the head, fireworks start going off, a potential million-dollar idea is in process, dream of Porsches and Yachts stream through their brains as they tell the boss goodbye and start dumping that bank balance or a close family member on a deposit for one of those fresh new office lots or just renovated street front shop.
Yes, it all seemed like a good idea at the time.
I say good idea at the time for a reason. The reason is?
Well, I see all these new buildings and renovated ones having a lot of the for-lease signs being replaced with work in progress. I see a lot of new furniture, new clothing racks and people and stock arriving, but pretty soon I also see the removals’ coming, closing down sale signs falling and being replaced with “For Lease”.
You see, the problem is that 80% of those that get that overdose of entrepreneurial juice running? Fail and run out of money juice within the first 12 months of operating.
So, what are the major causes of failure?
Not Seeking Professional Advice
Lack of Good Customer Care
Lack of Experience
Lack of Personal Growth
Lack of Focus
Quitting Too Soon
So why am I writing about this today when I normally discuss websites, SEO and stuff like that. Well, we need the new business to be around, as we want to build websites, and do SEO work. I also know that a lot of other business need them to service as well so we can all help each other.
So, let me give you a little advice, something I have used to build a successful business that has grown but most importantly made it past that first one year and was not part of the 80%.
When you have one of those, “Seems Like a Good Idea” moments? Stop and listen to a great quote from Abraham Lincoln. A quote that I use every day to press the pause button when my mind starts to run faster than common sense.
When asked what he would do if he has six hours to cut down a tree? Abraham Lincoln replied, “I would spend four hours sharpening my axe”
So, folks, before committing your cash (or others) putting the deposit on a Porsche or a Yacht, grab the idea, a few sheets of paper and start thinking through a good business plan.
Spend a little time sharpening that axe before you attack the tree.