I think we can all agree on one thing. Popularity is addicting. It feels great being the most popular vendor, having the most Facebook friends and being invited to every networking event in town. But do all of those things equal a positive balance sheet and money in your bank? I’m not quite so sure.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past 5 years of business, it’s that popularity does not equal cash. And, in business cash is king. While being popular might fill your emotional love tank, it does not always fill your bank account.
During the last 12 months I have completely re-evaluated my business systems and workflow because I’m always on the hunt for way to be more efficient. I’m married to an Air Traffic Controller after all. We reviewed with a magnifying glass where we were spending a majority of our time compared to what was driving us the most revenue. And networking (both at our company events and other organization events in the industry) was a BIG time suck and not a big money maker. Gasp! Yup, I said it. Sorry.
Our Company Networking Events
We began hosting monthly networking events nearly 4 years ago . They were intended to be a way to meet more people, invite the companies we were trying to sell to be around us each month, build buzz for our magazine, and build a personal connection with our clients. But… this past year we analyzed the attendees of the past 12 months events and determined that only about 30% of our attendees were actually regular advertisers and the remaining 70% who attended were not advertisers… nor were they good leads. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that in a bad way. Some businesses either don’t believe in advertising or aren’t big enough to have the money to invest in the advertising products we offer. Because our networking events were priced at a rate that was designed to not break the break, after we paid the caterer and staff to manage them… we were losing at least $1,000 a month on them. Zero profit = zero point.
So, I put our popularity emotions aside (believe me that was HARD) and decided to cut back on the events we hosted… and we have become a healthier company because of it. What I learned is that while people enjoy networking with us… they don’t make people want to buy advertising, nor do the events make current advertisers keep on advertising with us. People simply like great food, good drinks and new friendships. And I’m okay with that on someone else’s watch. 😉 In the future, we’ll be doing a few specialty events here and there instead of monthly events.
Attending Other Networking Events
Outside of our company events there are at least 4 other networking organizations in our industry we can attend monthly…. and that’s just in Atlanta where we’re based. Because popularity causes us to want to be everywhere and anywhere, we had budgeted about $500 a month to send between 1 and 3 of our employees to these events. That’s a car payment people! When I evaluated how productive each event was in meeting new leads or closing more deals, I realized that deals are closed by great, persistent sales people over productive sales calls and we can find leads in a myriad of other, more time saving ways…… not over 2 or 3 glasses of wine at 7pm at night. So, it made me sad to not see my “friendors” as much anymore, but we decided to cut it. And we’re better for it.
Now, not only do our employees have more personal time with their families, they focus their time and energy on what does make us money and that’s our advertisers. We’ve spent all this time we’ve gained growing our distribution network, growing the traffic to our website, making our website more SEO friendly, writing more articles about our advertises, promoting our clients events and gaining the attention of MORE READERS. I want to be popular, but more than that I want to be successful. And I measure success by being able to make payroll for myself and my entire team this week, next week and for the rest of our careers. Happy advertisers who are booking businesses from their ads because Occasions Magazine has the best distribution, the most traffic to their website and the most readers is what makes that possible. Period.
So, what does fill your bank account?
I have found that a great product and a happy team that delivers our clients unparalleled customer service and a sales team that clearly communicates how our products (that we make money on) will help our advertisers and new prospects grow their business… thus increasing sales is what works for Occasions. When we focus on what matters most, we suddenly didn’t have time for the secondary things that consumed too much time and produced less-than-ideal results. It’s all about focusing on what matters and making the right choices for your company.
But what about your business? What fills your bank account? How do you measure success and are you making the money you want to?
P.S. I borrowed a portion of this post title from my dear friend Marley Majcher’s book But Are You Making Any Money? which I highly recommend for all business owners to read. You can buy it here.