I can grow your business; but how can I be so confident?
How can I truly say what works and what doesn’t?
Because, unlike most marketing managers who work for agencies; they have never had to truly grind and drag themselves up from the bottom.
Marketing is easy when you have large budgets to work with.
But what about when the bottom line needs to be increased?
Not marketing for the sake of "brand awareness' but marketing to truly increase sales!
I know and can relate to how hard it is to build a business from nothing.
How do I know?
Here is my story, and why you can trust your business in my hands.
My first house in Cork in 2009. A €45 per week attic that I did up myself.
I moved to cork in 2009. I had a laptop on its last legs and €400 from my brother. I rented a house for €45 a week on church street.
I remember being constantly cold in the house as the landlord insisted the back window be left open so the cat could come and go. This also meant I could never sit anywhere in the house as every table, chair and counter top was covered in hair.
It was here where I began my first business.
A print company with a difference. I wanted to offer businesses the perfect blend of professional design work with high quality print. I wanted to grow businesses, not simply make leaflets and brochures look pretty.
With no money my first attempt at marketing were business cards.
I spent days designing them. When they finally arrived I headed into Cork introducing myself to as many businesses as I could.
I went from door to door asking to speak to owners and managers, explaining my services and what I could do.
That day I got my first job. Loyalty cards for Mexicano Restaurant. The owner ordered 1000 cards and I managed to charge €20 for artwork.
My first job as Corkprinting.com. Questionnaire / business card for Mexicana Restaurant. They still use my design to this day
The business cards had cost me €53. In one order I had recouped my investment, made a sale and I had hoped got my first client.
Over the coming days I received a few phone call for other small jobs.
The following week I received an order from an Indian restaurant ‘The Eastern Tandoori’ for 30,000 take aways menus. With no over heads I was able to cut my prices to the bone. I had to taxi the order from my office to his restaurant. I even carried the pallet of boxes up his 3 flights of stairs myself. I was eager to please to say the least.
Within 2 weeks I had got rid of my 500 business cards.
I had made enough money to cover my rent and food for a month or two.
If 500 regular business cards could get me some work, what could more do?
This is when I began flyering Cork city.
My first order was for 5000 flyers which outlined more of my services.
I would usually head out on a Saturday night and afterwards come home, grab my backpack of flyers and head back out again. I would walk the streets of Cork placing the flyers into the letterboxes of all the businesses for Monday morning.
I did not receive too many orders in the following weeks. However, the one or two jobs I did receive were larger and more professional orders.
This excited me.
I realised that without the face to face contact, business owners needed many more interactions before ordering. I began reading about this.
It turns out approximately 7. 7 interactions are needed (without meeting) to turn a cold customer into a warm prospect.
So I began studying how best to interact with business owners all the time?
I was always working on my website in my spare time but still hadn’t fully grasped how to utilise it.
It was after a few months that I had formed the habit of collecting business cards from everywhere and asking every business owner I came in contact with for theirs. I had become quite good at exchanging business cards having read, practised and prepared what I would say and how I would say it depending on who I was speaking too. I began ending every meeting with ‘Okay, I will email you with regards .. A, B and C of what we had discussed and what I had proposed.
I began following up all my contacts with emails. As my list grew I began researching and studying how to increase their impact, monitor their impact and close sales through follow up action.
It was around this time I had met with Clive Aherne of Tax Assist Accountants on Washington Street. He was one of the business owners I had walked in and introduced myself too.
My system of meeting business owners, exchanging business cards and following up with email marketing and sales calls was working for me.
I wanted a way to expand this.
From researching online I had read that networking groups were a great way to expand ones network.
Discussing this with different business owners I had met, the idea gained some traction.
Together with local businessmen Clive Aherne, Daniel Johnson of Johnson Solicitors, Jim Landy of Acorn Insurance and Eamon Ryan of Munster Green Energy Cork Connect was founded. Our first meeting was held in Daniel Johnson's office.
This is how it went for most of my first year. The Cork Connect network group grew from Daniel Johnsons office to the Silversprings hotel; from 5 members to 30.
I continued to grow my network of potential clients through print marketing (leaflet distribution, flyering and business cards).
Most weekends would be spent busing to different areas outside of Cork City. I would also continually try to introduce myself to as many business owners as I could always following up to grow my email marketing list.
At the end of my first year in business the weekly meetings of Cork Connect were proving a great asset to my business with regular orders from the other members.
My email list would also bring in steady orders and all in all my business was going in the right direction.
I will skip through the next 2 years of my business.
Everything I had put in place in my first year of business was working and so I attempted to make everything that was working – bigger.
I got a bigger office.
I hired my first 2 members of staff, a receptionist and a graphic designer.
The graphic designer could handle the smaller orders while the receptionist could answer the phones and respond to emails faster as I was struggling to keep up the workload.
Also, because I was struggling with my workload I felt the business had become stagnant.
I no longer had time to market the business like I had in year 1 and in truth I was becoming tired.
By the middle of year 2 I was running a business I had not set out to create. I was meant to be a design agency that helped businesses grow.
Instead, I had become a print company churning out cheap and cheerful, mediocre work.
Money was good, but I had completely lost the personal brand image I had spent so long building in year 1 diligently introducing myself to business owners around Cork.
The cheap prices I had used to build my business were now stifling my growth. I desperately wanted to work for larger companies but why would they work with me?
What work could I show them which proved to them I was a good graphic designer?
I had none.
Cheap leaflets for barbers and butchers does not inspire confidence in larger SMEs.
They don’t want a designer who can make a leaflet look good, they want a designer who will grow their business.
I was lost.
I had lost my brand image. The services I offered did not align with the skills I possessed. The most frustrating aspect – business was good.
Everything was going in the right direction. By year 4 I could probably hire a professional graphic designer and second sales person.
Year 5 or 6 was on track for the move to the bigger office and by perhaps year 7 or 8, I would run a big profitable print house.
It was all mapped out – I had done it and I hated it.
Looking down over Beijing as Chinese New Year kicked off I decided I wanted to build a business I was proud of
I travelled to China in February to celebrate Chinese New Year. I wanted a new start, so where better to begin. I travelled with fellow business entrepreneur Tim Petch. On the 80th floor of the Atmosphere Bar in Beijing, I watched as a city explode into colour. I decided there and then I wanted to build a business I could be proud of with a brand that represented what I stood for as a designer.
My passion was in growing businesses and that was what I was going to do.
I went back to the drawing board. I began reading more than ever and studying how to build a brand, not a business. I studied guys like Pat Flynn, Ryan Deiss and Neil Patel. I read every book and guide on how to build a brand and manage it.
A common denominator in what all the greats were teaching was the power of blogging and my where they not kidding. Myself and Tim founded Virtually Nomadic. A platform for us to test, implement and write blog posts on travel, to see how they faired.
Within months we had developed a following and traffic to the site Virtuallynomadic.com was rising fast.
Along the way, we experimented with all Social media channels adding posts to our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts researching on how to improve all in all areas and maximise conversion rates.
I worked, studied and learned everything I could with regards online marketing, email marketing, blogging and social media management.
With trial and error we were able to see how best to approach each marketing strategy via Virtually Nomadic.
Using everything I was learning I was able to, not only continue to keep my business CorkPrinting going, but help it grow. I continued to travel the world using blogging and email marketing as my income streams for 3 years.
Years later I returned home to Ireland from Russia for a Wedding. I returned to Cork to visit friends. A lot had changed.
What was meant to be a flying visit turned into a Summer long stay. I had grown a custom to living in the moment and making money from wherever I was.
After a Summer in Cork the final piece fell into place. I missed Ireland.
I missed helping businesses and this time I knew how.
I was starting a business in Cork for a second time, but this time I was ready.
Near the end of 2015, I founded Businessman to the Rescue. A brand management agency for small businesses.
The premise was to remain small.
Having travelled the world money is no longer my main objective. Once I reach what I want I will be happy.
In order to achieve this I am searching for 20 to 30 ambitious business owners who are thinking big.
Get in touch today to work with someone who truly knows how hard it is to grow a business and what it truly takes.
Businessman to the Rescue combines web development, print marketing, email marketing, SEO, blogging and social media management into affordable brand management packages for small businesses
I look forward to hearing from you and best of luck in your business endeavours.