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The Passing Parade of Interest

I have worked with a number of start up entrepreneurs who - depending on their field of expertise - bemoan the marketing and social media aspects of getting their venture off the ground. Whilst in the long run it's imperative this work is outsourced ASAP, the early days of an start up can be a little cost sensitive - with the marketing and promotion still needing to be done regardless.

It can be challenging to find fresh marketing ideas and social media content to offer your clients, which is precisely why it's best to outsource to professionals as soon as you can, but how do you keep your morale high and your focus fixed when your own results are less than spectacular to begin with? Oh dear god, what happens if you start to lose Followers, isn't that a fate worse than death? Short answer: nope.


Think of a traditional shop window on a busy high street. Imagine yourself inside the shop watching hundreds of people walking past your window every day. Now I'm saying imagine, because there are so few high streets with hundreds of people walking past shop windows, but it's merely an example I'm trying to give you here, not a treatise on the socio-economics of the retail industry. So... back to standing inside your shop, looking out of the window at people passing by.

Now let's say you sell Widgets, the best Widgets in the world, beloved by children from 4 to 104. Even though you have an internationally beloved product, expertly promoted with dynamic and innovative marketing, you will still experience broad swathes of empty shop time, because not everyone will want your product all of the time. But you can't possibly know when they will want it, so you keep your shop open for as many hours as is practicable for when they do. And yes, you can apply my little theory to online sales too, because your Google analytics aren't breaking new records every hour of every day, are they? [Jeff Bezos please shush, I'm trying to make a broader point].


So why must you press on when results are poor? Because what's the alternative? The alternative to pressing on is packing up. If that's what you want to do then who am I to stop you, have a nice life. But for those who don't want to pack up and go home, you have to press on. Of course if something's not working, then you need to change it, because nothing changes if nothing changes. Bin, bomb or simply refine what you have until it starts bringing in the results you want, but don't quit because you haven't hit the sweet spot yet. Treat it as a puzzle, find the fun and enjoy the challenge of finding the solution. If you tell yourself that solution hunting is going to be a giant ball-ache, it's going to be a giant ball-ache, so flip the script.

You may have been targeting a particular demographic with your marketing message, which has so far failed to pay for itself. Well, the message clearly needs a tweak so you change the message, you don't stop sending a message out. Why? Because even if your messaging hasn't yet resonated with your target audience enough to buy what you're selling, they are still aware of you - even if it is in the dark recesses of their unconscious mind. There's a rule of thumb which states that a marketing message needs seven passes before it reaches the conscious awareness of the audience, so why in the hell would you quit beforehand? Here's a real life story my mentor told me a good few years ago.


One of my mentors, Gavin, had been receiving direct mail marketing from a company selling and hiring wheelchairs for a number of months. He found the persistent deals and offers landing on his doormat a little exasperating and bothersome, before depositing them straight into the recycling bin. That is until his 4 year-old son, Callum, broke his leg. At 4 years of age, Callum was too heavy to lift and carry everywhere, so the family now needed to hire a wheelchair for 6 weeks whilst the leg healed. Guess who Gavin called to hire a wheelchair from.

Gavin's story perfectly illustrates why persistence pays, you must press on. By all means experiment, refine and improve as you go, but you must never pack up. Always be mindful of the Passing Parade of Interest. The Passing Parade of Interest is made of the people who will walk past, ignore or choose not to engage with you this time, but might need what you have to offer in the future - and you have to be there for that. You have to be in it to win it, as they say.


You can't possibly predict who is going to want what you have to offer and when, but you can tailor your marketing messages to appeal to who might, when and why by creating Avatars. Have you created a Bitmoji version of yourself for SnapChat and Facebook etc? You know, the little caricatures of yourself, where you can choose your hairstyle, clothes and make up etc.

What you can do to help each marketing message reach a desired demographic - because one size fits all marketing won't work across all demographics - is to create an Avatar for each group. You can go so far as to play with Bitmoji if it helps, but otherwise write and/or draw who your Avatar for each group, i.e.: 14 - 18 year old boys, 25 - 35 year-old career women, 65 - 75 year-old retirees would be. Give them a name, an identity (i.e.: race, gender, sexual orientation) a backstory, hobbies, interests, careers, families, ability/disability levels, health status, what music they listen to, which movies they watch, how they spend their disposable income etc. You can go into as much forensic detail as you like, because it's only going to help you identify and communicate with your actual, real life audience or clientele. Once you've done this you can tailor your marketing and social media messaging to appeal to and attract them more effectively.

If you have a better idea of who your target market is, it becomes so much easier to message them in ways that'll attract them to you - especially when their Passing Parade of Interest kicks in, i.e.: when they want to purchase one of your Widgets for their nephew's birthday etc. The secret to success in many cases is to outwork and out last your competitors. If you're "the last man standing" the spoils of victory are yours, so it's more than worth the effort creating some Avatars will cost.

Just because there are no nibbles on your line right now, there's always another fish downstream. If you're still on the riverbank, if your line is still in the water and suitably baited, you're still in with a chance of catching the fish. If you've packed up and gone home, you will won't catch that fish... not today at least. Remember, the Passing Parade of Interest!


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