In his monthly column, Brian Gray from Glasgow-based erotic marketing agency Lascivious Marketing offers his thoughts on all things marketing. This month he’s pondering the survival options for sole traders and micro-businesses short of time and marketing budget.
I’m hoping for a lot from you as we head towards Christmas. Namely that your tills have been ringing continuously for the past few weeks in the run up to Christmas. I’m hoping this carries on well into the New Year and into Valentine’s Day too. I’m hoping you’re reaping the rewards commercially. I’m also hoping that you’re able to enjoy some down time as well, with your feet up beside the fireplace and perhaps clutching a well-earned (and generously sized) glass of brandy to warm your proverbial cockles this winter.
But I also hope that while you have some time away – even if just a day or two – that you give some thought concerning the time and effort you put into this industry and what you’re getting from it in return. I certainly don’t want to be casting a dour shadow on things: especially when there should be an abundance of festive cheer! That said, I do sympathise with the struggles facing sole-traders or micro-business owners working flat out to make something of their business, and in turn, themselves.
It gives me no joy highlighting the fact that of the vast majority of emails I receive from new or established micro businesses reaching out to me, their knowledge of marketing is next to non-existent. Furthermore, it becomes obvious there’s little to no marketing budget to speak of and very little evidence even of a marketing plan. It’s a depressing state of affairs.
Virgin founder Richard Branson famously said that the best way to become a millionaire was to start with a billion dollars and launch an airline. I often wonder whether this maxim also holds true in our industry.
The typical erotic entrepreneur has got a plethora of plates to spin: one minute you’re neck deep in finance and accounts, the next you’re responding to customer enquiries, then you’re liaising with suppliers, and so on.
Oh yes, and then there’s the marketing.
Content marketing and social media is a full time job in itself. How the hell are sole traders or two-person micro-businesses or partnerships meant to be constantly thinking, conceiving, designing, and creating and then distributing valuable and engaging content to their key audiences while also getting on with running the company, doing all the more boring admin, the company accounts, and so on?
If you’re in this situation, you generally recruit someone in-house, outsource it to an agency or freelancer, or muddle along upholding the status quo, and consequently not see stellar improvements to your business or your life.
And let’s get one thing straight. Without adequate marketing, your business is not going to survive. And if you don’t have either the time or sufficient money to allocate, things aren’t going to end well. At least, not on your own.
But with all these competing demands for the one thing that can’t be reclaimed – time – maybe it’s the right moment to evaluate some other options – radical though they may be – in order that you can actually be properly rewarded AND have some semblance of a life away from the grind? Be warned however: it may inflict a degree of ego-bruising. C’est la vie.
It’s perhaps time you found a partner. Or two, or even a handful. Similar companies or erotic entrepreneurs that together can offer huge potential and create something that can genuinely create an impression within the industry, and be exposed to new opportunities that could only have been mere pipe dreams previously.
If you’re all in the same boat, pool together what resources you have. This may take the form of tactical fusion marketing. Or perhaps a deeper strategic partnership. Getting even more serious are the options surrounding the creation of a new umbrella brand that also still maintains your original brand and those of your new cohorts. Consider an erotic equivalent to fmcg giant Procter & Gamble, where the overall identity (P&G) is of miniscule importance to consumers than the individual product brands dominating their respective product categories.
Or, perhaps it’s time to say farewell to your old identity and with your new partners, forge a completely new entity, and with it a new brand identity and accompanying values.
And when I mention values, let’s highlight Virgin once again, whose name throughout the years has appeared in myriad sectors, from airlines to insurance to condoms to cola. When it comes to ‘brand elasticity’, here’s your case study. But what makes them able to compete in such diverse business sectors isn’t accrued technical knowhow or brilliance. Instead, it’s the shared values possessed.
What things do you share with potential partners that could result in a carnal coming together, or if you prefer, a sexy synergy where 2+2=5 ? It could be shared geographic territory, shared product materials used (such as wood, glass or metal), shared product or customer niche, shared cause or desire to change something (i.e. body-safe products) or a number of other things that could be the catalyst for a tempting tie-up.
It’s about time now for my customary disclaimer. I’m not for one moment suggesting any of these potential options will be a walk in the park. For instance, who’s going to be boss? What’s the new corporate structure? Who do you trust most to guide the ship and deliver the profits so eagerly sought?
There may be some ego bruising and heart-tugging moments if deciding to ditch all the individual brands. But what’s more important: your ego or your bank balance? Which one determines if your mortgage is paid? If you can’t market your brand effectively through either lack of time or money or both, then something has to give. And pooling together to free up some vital marketing resources which can move things along has got to be something at the very least to consider.
However you choose to end 2018 and begin 2019 don’t forget one thing. You’re in the business of love and lust; helping to provide your customers with smiles and other wonderful sensations. Wouldn’t it be a crying shame if you can’t enjoy such things (not to mention a family and social life) yourself due to a lack of marketing clout – and time?
Brian can be contacted at lasciviousmarketing.com, found on Instagram @lasciviousmarketing or phoned on +44 (0)141 255 0769.