I went to a bunch of local neighborhood businesses today, introducing myself and passing out my business card and showing them my portfolio. It was really interesting for a few reasons.
- Most of these particular businesses I’ve never been in before so I got to check them out: dentist, vet, insurance, pharmacy, taxidermy, tanning and fitness, hardware, hair salon…
- It built confidence in me a little bit and got me to try different ways of advertising myself. This is not something I’ve ever done before, although in a way it’s similar to when I was young and used to sell candy bars or “Tom Wat” door-to-door.
- I got to meet the owners and see what sort of people they are and how they operate. A lot of the businesses seemed to be in a state of denial. Looking around their shops, completely DEVOID of customers, they would tell me they “don’t do” advertising or marketing, and I had to wonder how much longer they’ll be in business if they don’t let people know what they have to offer! (I obviously need to come up with a better sales pitch so they see how useful I can be to them without them brushing me off so easily.)
- The varied response to ME. Some people were very friendly, happy to listen and (hopefully!) support a local freelancer. They wished me luck in this venture. Others barely wanted to say hi. They told me no almost before I opened my mouth, then made it clear they wanted me to leave!
One man said he doesn’t do any marketing, then proceeded to tell me about the newsletter he sends out a few times a year and how he’s thinking about switching it to an email newsletter and might need to send out a postcard to let his customers know about the switch. HELLO!!!!! MARKETING!!! I tried to get him to see that I can help him out, but he sort of tuned out and proceeded to complain about the city’s strict sign ordinances and permit requirements.
A few other responses to my opening query:
“I don’t have time for that right now; it’s deer season.” -Taxidermist, wiping his hands with a dirty rag
“We already have everything we need.”
“Here, take my husband’s business card. He just started a new business and might need something.”
“We go by word of mouth only, but good luck.”
“The owner is in our other branch, but he just took over the practice so he might be interested.”
So I tried today. And I can only wait and see if anything comes out of it. I left each business either feeling elated or let-down, depending on their response. There was no happy medium. Overall, though, I’m glad I did it.
More of the same tomorrow, I imagine. I can only take so much in one day…
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