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My biggest marketing mistake – and my biggest fluke

One of the biggest advantages our consultants have is that they benefit from the mistakes I made when I started face2faceHR back in 2008. Most of these mistakes were marketing-related, and some of them were whoppers!

The biggest waste of time I spent marketing was cold-calling. I’d done cold calling before, as a student, selling double-glazing (I can still remember the script we had to follow!), but doing it for my own business was a whole new thing. Much scarier selling myself (and therefore risking personal rejection) than selling someone else’s windows.

I spent ages researching what to say, learning about getting past ‘gatekeepers’, drafting myself a script. I spent money on a prospect list. And then I spent ages making the calls as well. And then when I got fed up doing it myself and wasn’t getting anywhere, I outsourced it to someone else and paid for it to be done.

Of course, it was all a huge waste of time and money and effort, because small businesses don’t choose their HR consultant based on some random person they’ve never heard of phoning them out of the blue. They choose based on trust, based on confidence that you’ll do a good job and will be a good ‘fit’ for them, and based on timing as well – no point calling someone unless they need help at that exact moment!

However, my cold calling episode did in fact bring me a really good client. I did lots of work for them, they stayed with me on retainer for years and years, until they were so big they had plenty of internal HR resource. But it was a complete fluke – I just happened to cold call a very stressed business owner at exactly the right moment when he was having an employee disaster. I went to see him, spent a couple of hours hearing his woes, and that was a done deal.

But the chances of that happening again – calling someone at exactly the moment they desperately need HR support and a sympathetic ear – were infinitesimally small, so regardless of my one great client, cold calling was a huge waste of time, money and effort, all of which could have been spent much more productively on different marketing activities.

I ditched the cold calling very soon afterwards, as I learned more about marketing and honed the marketing model to ensure it contained only marketing activities that actually work with our target audience, and only done in the best, most effective way possible.

If you’re thinking about small business HR consultancy and you’d like to get a head start benefiting from my mistakes, do get in touch for a chat.