Why Money Can Drive You Crazy (Or, How To Stop Saying No To Paying Customers)

So I’m on the phone yesterday with a client (let’s call him John) who runs a medium-sized business on the internet, and he’s telling me how desperately afraid he is about money. He’s up at night, wondering where it’s going to come from this month, and where it’s going to come from in the months after that.

John’s getting about as much sleep as he is new money – not much. The fear of where “new money” is going to come from is driving him crazy. His business isn’t in outright free-fall – it’s a good business, it’s bringing in decent money – it’s just not bringing in enough. And the stress is killing him.  He needs something to change, and change fast.

And that’s what we’re going to talk about today.

The fastest way to bring in more money via your business is to stop leaving it on the table.

Yes, we’re going to talk about “the table.”  The one that everybody and their mother is leaving money on.

This table is full of customers who want to buy something – and are ready to buy right now – but they can’t find what they need.  This table is full of clients who got good service from a business, still need a little bit more, but keep forgetting to get around to it.  This table is full of people who read your website regularly, find your content interesting, but don’t see something compelling enough to merit joining your list for.

These customers, clients and people have money to spend. (If you need confirmation of this, please get in your car, go to the mall, and stand outside the AT&T store for a while. Notice how few of the people whipping out their Visas for brand new iPhones to replace their perfectly good existing iPhones appear to be starving to death.)

  • When they open their mail and find a coupon for that restaurant they like, they say “Oh, I’ve been meaning to go there again.  I think I’ll do that tonight since it’s 10% off.”  (They’re not being “hit over the head” by the ad.  They’ve been thinking about that 12-ounce ribeye.)
  • When they get an email from their coach or service provider asking if they want to purchase more services, they say “Dude, I’ve been meaning to get around to that – I’ll do it now.” (They’re not feeling harassed by the provider, they’re happy for the reminder.)
  • When they visit a website regularly and see a clearly compelling reason to get on a list they say “Yes, that’s what I’m looking for.”  (Sometimes they didn’t even know they were looking for it, either, but it looks like the content could solve one of their persistent problems.)

The point here is that “new money” doesn’t have to come from new people.

When you need to start making more money, you have two options:

  • Do a bunch of stuff – probably resource prohibitive stuff – to get new people in the door, or
  • Start making the most of the people and resources you already have.

 Time for a tasty example!

You run an ittybiz.  But imagine for a moment you didn’t.  Imagine you ran a decent-sized retail location, smack in the middle of a lively little suburban mall. Let’s say you run a shoe store.

Despite the considerable amount of retail space you have at your disposal, your store contains three small tables full of shoes in the back left corner and a six-inch by six-inch sign on the window. Occasionally people buy your shoes, but you and I both know you’re selling them in spite of yourself.

Now, if you would like to increase revenue, do you think the most resource efficient way to do that is spend six months answering shoe related questions on Twitter?

To buy ads?

To pay an SEO consultant?

To work really hard on getting your Google Places page just right?

To tweak your Facebook fan page? (Too bad you haven’t gotten around to putting that Facebook fan page on your six-inch sign yet.)

Or do you think maybe you should just put some goddamn shoes in the window and buy a big sign that says “We Sell Shoes”?

After you did that, you could write – (Personally! Stop relying on Aweber to do your dirty work! There is much to be learned about your customers by copy-and-pasting by hand!) – to your 86 newsletter subscribers and invite each one, and up to two guests each, to a Cupcakes and Stilettos party where there will be music and confections and the opportunity to hang out with your fellow shoe lovers.

And when they and their charming guests were at your Cupcakes and Stilettos party, you could have something wonderful to send the guests by email, and you could have a Real Live Human Being use a Real Pen With Actual Ink to write down their email address on Honest To God Paper That Was At One Time A Tree.

Congratulations, you now have 124 people on your newsletter, and within 24 hours, they’re all going to have some darling incentive in their inbox to come back and buy shoes.

In the meantime, when other people wander down to your neck of the mall, they will see your new sign, as well as indicators that you actually have shoes for sale. They will, perhaps, purchase shoes. You will, at that time, invite them – actually invite them, not have a clipboard with a chewed-on pen attached hanging around the checkout area – to join your newsletter to find out about events like your Cupcakes and Stilettos parties.

Then you will email your list of now 209 people to stop by your Facebook page to see your compilation of the top 10 music videos with stilettos in them. While they’re there, they can Like your page and get exclusive Facebook fan offers.

Some of them WILL click Like, and their friends will see it. Some of their friends will stop by, where they, too, will be given the opportunity to get on your newsletter.

And the cycle continues.

To make money in a turnaround situation, there are only four activities you can afford to be engaged in at any given time.

  1. You can be selling something.
  2. You can be providing the things that you have already sold.
  3. You can be promoting things that you have for sale.
  4. You can be creating something that will soon be available for sale.

Given that your business sucks right now, you’re unlikely to be engaged in the first or second categories for any prolonged period of time.

It’s time to work on the other two.

Money makes you crazy? This is how you stop the crazy.

In turnaround, the only thing that matters is money. More money, less crazy, more happy, less working at Starbucks.

You now have two choices.

Option one: Go figure out how to make some money.

Option two: If you can’t figure that out right now, register for our Emergency Turnaround Clinic. We will teach you. We will also let you set your own price in case the money situation is very dire indeed.

Now. Go do one of those things.

About the author: Naomi Dunford started IttyBiz in 2006. In her free time, she likes to… ha! Free time. You’re adorable. Learn more about her here and catch up with her on Twitter or Facebook.