As I continue to work on my business plan and video (and, you know, paying work), here is what happened in Breaking Even Communications this week:
I tried my streetcorner market research.
A couple weeks ago, I vowed to stand on a street corner ask people the market research questions I needed the answers to in order to get my business plan done. Here is a moment by moment account of what happened when I actually did this on Tuesday:
9:00 am- Check my Facebook and see via a friend’s status update that today is a ‘boat day’, meaning there is a cruise ship docked in Bar Harbor. More foot traffic is good for me!
10-11 am- Make my sandwich board with my almost out of ink printer and a spare piece of particle board I have from a previous Too Cute Tuesday project. I put on a cute but professional blue dress and walk into town.
11:45 am- I set up my sandwich board on the Village Green in Bar Harbor. ‘Want to get more out of your website?” is the only text that fits. The words ‘free consultation’ do not. Oh well, I can tell people when I talk to them. I tweet what I’m up to and call my lady Anne at SCORE to let her know I’m doing it!
11:55 am- Board blown down by wind. I whip out my duct tape and to the amazement/amusement of a few nearby tourists, I duct tape the sign to the granite sidewalk. I try to make conversation with them, saying that between my duct tape, water bottle, and sunscreen, I am ready for anything. The woman is not amused but her son is. She clearly thinks this ‘saleswoman’ is too friendly!
12:01 pm- I give a tired looking woman directions to a fish and chips place. She seems on the ‘hangry’ side so I don’t ask her my survey questions.
12:03 pm- “I don’t have a website!” a well meaning stranger says while walking by. Oh, but sir, you could!
12:10 pm- “I don’t have a website!” from another passerby. Hmm…
12:12 pm- Realize I should have made a shirt that says “I’m not selling anything.” Most everyone walks by and averts their eyes because they must think I am. It is almost painful. I decide to keep cultivating my approachable look.
12:15 pm- I give directions to the whale watch. Have the brief idea that the town of Bar Harbor should pay me to be nice to people and give helpful directions on cruise ship days.
12:18 pm- People I realize are crossing the street right before they get to me. Is it to avoid me, or buy ice cream at the stand across the way? A tough call on this hot day.
12:30 pm- Japanese kids are taking lots of photos on the park near me. I am amused and wish I could talk Japanese. I’m sure they would take my brief survey!
12:45 pm- After being either ignored or addressed as a tour guide, I decide I can not spend the afternoon like this. It clearly isn’t working. I need people willing to talk to me and many of these people are on a fixed time schedule and therefor in a bit of a hurry. I tweet my failure and regroup.
I’ve since decided that renting a table at a business exposition or perhaps giving my survey when I do free presentations may give me a better response.
I made the alumni magazine.
“I read about you in the UMFK alumni magazine.” My mom told me on the phone. “I don’t know who wrote it, but it’s a really good paragraph. I was proud.”
Of course I wrote it. Now personally I haven’t been the best at working my alumni network but everytime I get a ‘send us your news email’, I let them know what’s going on. I figure it can’t hurt and my mom is proof that some people are reading it.
I dropped by and got a new client.
My web designer friend Matt was telling me that he had set up a blog for a local real estate agent for the last year and he hadn’t used it yet. “You should stop by, he works right on your street.”
So I did and he hired me on the spot. Knowing someone in common and knowing a specific task I could help him with no doubt made that possible.
It’s never a dull moment in the summertime in Bar Harbor, and even less so when you are attempting to run a small business! Too bad those tourists never knew they could have been famous on the blog…