According to extensive research that I have been conducting for nearly five minutes, celebrated author Stephen King has a net worth of 500 million dollars.
Just to give you a sense of how big a number that is, it’s more than the combined net worth of Taylor Swift ($400 Million) and me.
All in all, not bad for a guy who’s earned a living by making things up.
Not only that, but it’s a terrific business model since his costs consist of nothing more than a desk, a computer, and (I’m guessing) a coffee mug made out of a partially decomposed human head.
So, here’s my question for you: If this business model is so lucrative, so simple, and available to anyone, why don’t big companies do it?
Why doesn’t Ford, or FedEx, or Facebook hire a bunch of people to write bestselling novels?
After all, there are only 26 letters in the alphabet; how hard can it be? Certainly a lot simpler than building cars, guaranteeing overnight delivery, or ending democracy once and for all.
The answer, of course, is that good writing doesn’t scale. It’s not a function of time, effort, horsepower, or budget.
Writing is an activity about which the old adage applies: It takes nine months to make a baby, no matter how many women you put on the job.
You’re Missing a Big Opportunity
There are plenty of things big companies can do that people like you and I (small professional service firms and solos) can not.
We can’t offer live, 7/24 service.
We can’t hire famous actors, athletes, or British lizards to represent our brand.
We can’t buy enough advertising to have strangers remember our tagline, recognize our logo or, in many cases, even remember our company name.
But, like Stephen King, there are things we can do that the big guys can’t – things that don’t scale and, in fact, get worse with attempts to automate them.
Which means that if you are not doing these kinds of things to market yourself and your business, you are leaving a big advantage (and money) on the table.
Here are three that I live by:
#1. Handwritten Notes
They cost money, they can’t be automated, and they take advantage of a nearly forgotten channel (snail mail).
All of which means that when you send one – to say congrats, thank you, thinking of you, happy birthday, or whatever – you stand out. Hardly anyone does this anymore and the “open rate” on these notes is approaching 100%.
I send one of these each week.
#2. “Hello Emails”
Not to sell anything, not to talk about yourself, not to ask for a favor. Just a non-automated “How are you?” to the people on your house list (you do have a house list, right?).
What do you say? The same kinds of thing you would say if you ran into one of these people in the supermarket. How’s the family? How about all this rain? Your shopping cart is on my foot.
The one and only purpose is to keep your relationships alive.
I send 10 of these each week.
#3. One-on-One Meetings
Depending on where your contacts live and your comfort level with face-to-face get-togethers, you may have to do some or all of these on Zoom. When possible, I prefer in person over coffee or lunch.
Here, too, the point is relationship maintenance. You don’t need a plan or an agenda. You are simply trying to get to know people better and stay top of mind with them.
I do one of these each week.
Here’s the bottom line.
Online tools and automated stay-in-touch processes are fine. If you are a small firm or solo, you cannot survive without them.
But, don’t miss the opportunity to do things that can’t be automated – and that the big boys and girls, therefore, won’t touch.
Do these things and you’ll stand out, be remembered, and generate the kind of word-of-mouth buzz we all rely on. It’s either that or get yourself a really creepy coffee mug.
- Have you ever drunk coffee out of a human head? Explain.
- Who is your favorite celebrity spokesperson?
- What’s your go-to, non-scalable marketing activity?
Share your answers below…