I love Westerns. Yes, that’s a photo of a bottle on a beach up there, but bear with me. In the early 1990s, a television miniseries based on a novel by Louis L’Amour debuted on Turner Network Television. It starred real-life married folk Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross.
Ross’ character is left alone to care for her husband’s children from a previous marriage when the man rides off one day on business and never rides back. She and her stepchildren make do by opening their home as a stagecoach stop, but Evie’s is a lonely life until the lanky Conagher lopes in on his horse and quietly changes everything.
But Evie and Conn Conagher actually meet long before he ever shows up at her door. In her determination to care for her stepchildren and put on a brave face, Evie doesn’t show them her own loneliness and anxiety for their future. (The stage line is changing the route and won’t need their home as a stop anymore.) She takes her tears to the desert, writing poems on scraps of paper and tying them around the thick stems of tumbleweeds and releasing them to the wind. Conagher finds one of them, reads the poem, and then looks for more every chance he gets. When they first meet, he has no idea Evie is his tumbleweed poet.
Evie also had no idea that her messages would get through to anyone, and of course, finding a reader wasn’t as important to her as getting her sadness and fear down on paper, but there’s a practical, non-romantic side to this illustration.
Do you know for sure if the message of your business, service or non-profit is finding its audience? Has relying on word of mouth, direct mail and newspaper advertising maintained sales and donors, or are you struggling?
Is your message lost on the beach … or in the desert?
Don’t do the same old thing in 2016 and expect better than last year. It just won’t happen. Here are some ideas:
If you haven’t dipped a toe into social media yet, pull off those socks. Create a Facebook page for your business/non-profit. Invite your personal Facebook friends to like your page and ask them to share the page on their newsfeeds. Don’t be too wordy. Start with brief posts about who you are personally. What is your product, service or mission? How long have you been doing this? Where are you located? Who do you serve? Invite questions, and if you don’t get takers, post common questions you receive from customers/donors and answer them yourself. Visit the page three or four times daily to respond to questions/comments. Post SOMETHING at least daily.
If you already have an active presence on social media, congratulations. How active are you with other merchants in your community? Do you participate in Small Business Week in May or Small Business Saturday in November?
If you are a non-profit, when was the last time you contacted the local radio station to ask them to produce a public service announcement about your issue? Are you sending press releases to the local paper on a regular basis? Are you posting your releases on free news websites? Has your executive director started a blog yet? What about letters to the editor on the issue important to your organization?
Doing something new is often nerve-wracking. And sometimes it’s even hard to come up with ideas on something new to do. That’s when a set of fresh eyes can be useful. Give me a call. I’d love to help and the initial consultation is free of charge.
Happy New Year!