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The honeymoon phase. It refers to the early part of a relationship where there’s a blissful prelude – and this meaning has since expanded. It now can be referred to the early stages of business.

But what happens after this honeymoon phase is over?

What should you do when initial sales begin to grind to a halt?

That’s the topic of today’s episode and why a marketing agency cannot save your business.

The Show Highlights:

  • The role of honesty in today’s digital marketing landscape (3:25)
  • Why you need to stop trying to ‘catch lightning in a bottle’ when it comes to business (9:00)
  • What the most successful business owners and marketers focus on to practically guarantee their success (15:20)

If you enjoyed today’s show, make sure you head on over to www.tapsandtees.info and download your free report of ‘No BS,’ game-changing marketing tips and strategies that show you how to blow up your brand online.

Read Full Transcript

Intro: 00:04 You are listening to the taps and t show weekly conversations for people, passionate about marketing, golf and craft beer. Marty is the cofounder of Bad Rhino in award winning digital marketing agency, helping golfing craft beer brands get real results in social media marketing. Here is your host, Marty McDonald.

Marty: 00:24 Everybody. Welcome to another episode of Taps and Tees. This is Marty McDonald and today we're going to talk about something that is always interesting here in the agency world. Most of the topic that I, when people reach out there in the last throes of their business or they can't figure anything out to kind of get sales moving or get people into their restaurant. And this has happened a couple of times during your tenure career here at bad rhino and the title of this episode is I can save your business. And that's the truth. If you get to a certain point, we've had a few of them at this point, which is sad and they're not honest about it, which makes it even worse because they're not being honest with themselves about you know, where they're going to be or what they're gonna do. They are having a tough time driving sales. That's what they're trying to do.

Marty: 01:10 Obviously, you know they're there, they're stuck and they think, hey, we've never really done any marketing. So let's finally bring an agency in. And you know, sometimes they call give you a cup. I'm going to give you a couple of examples here and I'll talk through them. But the common thread is they're just not being honest with themselves. And I'm a big proponent of entrepreneurship. I love small businesses. I love working with small businesses. You know, everybody starts somewhere as well. And this is, you know, the fourth business I've started or been a part of a start and there's always some struggle, right? And when you get to a tail end of something, and luckily I've never knock on wood, been there where everything doesn't work and you're having to struggle, struggle paying the bills, you know, it wears on you. And sometimes within a business you hit what I call the beginning phase, the honeymoon phase, whatever you want to call it.

Marty: 02:11 And people are Gluck, you know, is what you probably boil it down to. People are getting customers by luck, they open a restaurant, it's in a great little spot. They start to get Roland, they have some regulars, everything keeps going, but they hit a point where it's the same people coming in. It's not enough people coming in to pay the bills or make any money. And they look back over things and you're like, you know what? The only thing we've never really done is marketing. And then they reach out to an agency or multiple agencies. So I want to give you three examples. The first example is that restaurant example, I'm gonna elaborate a little bit more. The second one is a tee shirt company. And that was kind of like a bummer to watch kind of fall off because the concepts and everything else for were going pretty well.

Marty: 03:03 And the third thing is, is just a brewery location, opening another location without really doing their due diligence of where they're at and then skimping on their marketing and they'll, you know, see what happens. You know, it's just kinda like one of those things. So each one of them has a little bit of lesson. We're going to keep these shorts, these are kind of mini rants or this little season that we're doing here. But let's get into it. So the first one was a restaurant, a, I think it was 2014 might have been 2013 we were contacted by a restaurant in two men owned it and you know, everything seemed perfect. They presented everything to us. They said this is what we're trying to do. We're trying to get more people on Monday and Tuesday nights. And that was a lot of fun because they had a focus.

Marty: 03:48 So when they came to us like that, it made you believe that hey, all the other four or five, six, seven nights, you know, going through, you know, a 10 day stretch, we're doing really well. And they had a handful of events through the month that happened to be on Monday and Tuesdays that they wanted to pull additional people in. And this one probably was the worst one just because we were making it work really, really well. And we were getting people in there on Monday and Tuesday. So there's slow nights. So they're immediately seeing immediately seeing results, right? They're like, this is awesome. We love this. We're getting people on Monday night and Tuesday night. They had um, you know, different theme nights and um, it was working really well. So rich and I, my business partner, rich were, were like, this is great there. We're doing good. This is all working out, you know, all they really did need with some tweaks and then, um, you know, the bottom started to fall out, right?

Marty: 04:47 So the first month they paid, the second month they paid the third month, you know, check was late or payment was late and we were like, all right, it was kind of odd. So he called them, you know, it's about the 15th and we still haven't received payment. And they're like, oh yeah, that'll be coming to you. And then a week later, still nothing there. They set up, we just sent it out today. Apologize for lateness. And I mean sometimes in restaurants, much like other business, you have a mini mini cashflow crunch. I can totally understand that. I can totally relate. But at the same time, you know we're running a business as well. So after the 21st the checked income and I was like, all right, this is going to get a little uncomfortable here. Something's going on. And we went over there on a Friday and our, I went over there on Friday and was closed like restaurants closed on a Friday.

Marty: 05:38 So we made a phone call and find out there was some sort of family emergency and um, you know, that's why it was closed. So there crank back up Saturday, Sunday, Monday, everything's going along pretty well and we're just kinda like, hmm, wonder if we're going to get paid. Then the next thing you know, you get a frantic phone call, I can't pay you, we don't have any money anyway. You're like, all right, that's not what I was asking you. I'm just following up on payment. You know, what, what do we need to do here? Do you want us to stop whatever. And unfortunately, you know, the, the long and the short of it became they're going through bankruptcy both business wise and personal. They're selling belongings. They were selling everything just to keep everything open and running. And unfortunately they just couldn't keep up both personally and business wise and they were going under the bummer.

Marty: 06:25 The whole thing is they legitimately thought and they sold it to us as in if you guys can sell out Monday and Tuesday, you know, for the next eight weeks and we have really good days there. The rest of our stuff is carrying us. And unfortunately I wish they didn't lie to us. You know, I wish they would have said, look, we're in the last throes of, you know, a bigger issue here. We might go out of business. What we want to do is do a push because we need some extra cash. And we think the best thing is, is to really market our place for these events that we have Monday and Tuesday because we have a cover, we have some live events, you know, that we can milk out some more revenue. And, you know, that would have been nice. I mean, I know it's hard, you know, for people to just, you know, just kind of break out that ego and be able to tell that story because you pour your heart and soul into a restaurant just like any other business.

Marty: 07:19 But um, really they came to us though when, when we broke it down as the agency was going to be our lifeline, which we're okay with, hey, bring the pressure on, you know, that's what we're here is to provide results. But we didn't do our own due diligence and ask them the right questions either. So that's part of that falls on us. No, not naive to that. I'm not trying to sit there and say like, this is horrible. I'm talking about more the mindset of that business owner and his partner of going, well, if we can get these guys to do it, then everything will be okay for the short term. They were well, well underwater, you know, when they came to us. So that was a bummer because we were doing direct campaigns on Twitter. This is 2014. Mind you. So there's a little bit different that people would post or check ins on place on some of the apps like foursquare and that would go out to Twitter.

Marty: 08:15 And we were just going down those lists and targeting those people by location saying, Hey, have you gone into Xyz restaurant? You should come in Monday or Tuesday because this is the event. And we were driving literally almost like picking people out of the crowd on Twitter and driving them to the restaurant. Then once they would get there, a lot of their friends would see that they were there and it grew into these little neat little nights that they were having and it was, you know, very much on the upswing. And we were like, this is a great strategy. You know, we can leverage this for our other clients. And we did in a work brilliantly for them. Um, and again, it was a different time. Now it's 2019 certain things don't work anymore. But we were actually driving that in there and it was awesome. But the bummer videos is they came to us like, Hey, these guys can save our business. They didn't really think that way. They were trying to buy themselves another eight to 10 weeks of revenue that they could kind of keep the lights on and pay any bills that they could as they're going through a bankruptcy process. So that's number one. An example, number two we'll talk about is a tee shirt company. So this tee shirt,

Marty: 09:17 he you know, had a great brand, great logo, great idea and great concerts. Hey,

Speaker: 09:24 if you're enjoying what you're hearing on this show and want more head on over to taps and tees.info and get our free report with game changing tips and strategies straight to your inbox. Just enter your Info and stop being stuck with no marketing plan.

Marty: 09:37 By the time they got dressed they had been to like, I think at least one other yeah.

Marty: 09:41 Agency perhaps to one other web designer perhaps too as well. And they were looking for an all inclusive platform. You know, they wanted to do a couple of different things. One was print tee shirts on demand. So that they invested in machinery and everything else that could do that. They invested in, okay. Some artists and some artwork and they were working in the different niches, niches that they were in. I go niches or niches depends on the day. So they were really driving local stuff here in Philadelphia as well as national things. And you know, we told them upfront like, Hey, I know you're kind of looking at this as a, you know, 12 to 14 month deal, trying to, you know, inject life into a company that you think could take off and the brand could take off. And quite honestly, we all sat around and we all agreed to that and we all thought we had something, but we also knew it was going to be a bit of a process.

Marty: 10:34 Selling tee shirts online isn't very difficult, but it's also crowded, right? You have to really hit people with the sentiment of the moment. If you're dealing with certain things, you really have to hit them with things that really connect with that community. And you have to test a ton of different designs. I mean, even the best places that sell shirts online. And I'm not going to list them here, but you know, I think anybody listening to this knows a bunch of them. You know, a lot of those shirts, you know, definitely don't sell. You know, they'll test them and once they get one or two that I work, they're going to advertise the heck out of them and try and get as many buyers as possible. So there's a lot of testing that goes into it. And the, the one that thing that like really just bumps me is, you know, there's some private conversations going on and we were talking about different things as we got into the project.

Marty: 11:26 And then we found out the, the main investor was basically saying like, you know, this has to work in 10 months. And we were tracking right beautifully into that 10 month range. I mean we started making different changes in month one, in month two and we started to see some changes in website traffic and social media traffic started to get some things that really started to catch on. Not like crazy, you know, it wasn't like we were selling a mule million tee shirts, but we're starting to get traction. We're starting to get regular orders where we could start to scale the ad spend. We were starting to get different inquiries about different designs. We had people reach out that wanted to design shirts. It was really neat. But the thing is, is the mentality coming into it. What was we need to catch lightning in a bottle.

Marty: 12:13 And that's what I mean by, you know, I can't save your business as the title of this little episode here is that if you're coming out to the point where you don't have enough money for a run rate to test all these things online for a commodity like a tee shirt, unless you have some giant influencers and some other things going for you, it's going to be a bit of a slog. So you're going to have to do that. And then the worst part about this is as we started going through a month four and month five, we started hearing more and more that the investors were completely unhappy with other things. Within the business and they just lumped us into the same thing and I'll still never forget, we're sitting in our old office and it was like August and I'm presenting these numbers and I'm x, I'm excited as well as my business partner and a couple other people around the table and I'm like, we are finally at the point after the seven months where we're now heading into the home stretch, we have two or three different shirts that we're selling pretty regularly.

Marty: 13:12 We're getting regular sales. We finally had everything clicking on the website. We finally started to really connect with the community and audience where we're getting social media engagement now. It was just a test more and more designs and you know, we were right there, you know, literally right there. We were just about to break even on ads band as well as you know, different costs, you know, we're really doing well and the next thing you know the investors just like I'm out, like just like that. And it was interesting and it was a bummer because they came into it, can you save it? And we got right to the use of football analogy. You were just about to get to the end zone. I would say we were on the six yard line, not quite the five. We're on the six about to be on the five and just drive this thing home.

Marty: 13:53 And as an agency owner and my team, we put a lot of work into it. We put a ton of work into it because we wanted to be on a revenue share after the fact, but we have to test some things and it takes a lot of time. And the Bummer, that whole thing was was like we were right there. You asked us to come in to save this and just because it didn't happen in 15 minutes, but it's tracking, but you don't care about that and there's some other stuff to go. I'm just putting this in here without the mentality. They just pulled the plug and all the work was for not, they would have been better off just keeping the seven months of money that they had spent and pocket it, you know? But they just wasted it at the tail end of a a four year endeavor.

Marty: 14:37 And um, it was, you know, it was a bummer, but they looked at it like, can you get this online thing working? And we told them like, here's the timeframe. We're going to have some success early, but to make this a longterm play with email and remarketing, everything else, we're going to have a high volume of, you know, split testing, but we're also going to need some time to kind of get this in here. And a, it was a bummer because, um, you know, they came in with it and we did it and we were tracking in the right direction and we were just about there and they pulled the plug. So the lesson there is, you know, when everybody's not communicating and not being honest with where they want to be, it's a, it's tough to save somebody's business like that. The last one which will be really quick is, um, you know, a brewery and they open a new spot and they really just didn't do their due diligence on the spot.

Marty: 15:30 Is it going to be successful spot? I believe it will be. It's just taking a little bit more time because of where it's at in the town and where they're located. But it's another thing where they come in and I brunch this on a previous podcast. You come in and you're like, let's do everything. You know, let's do FCO, let's do paperclick, let's do geo-fencing. Let's do social ads. Let's do, let's do, let's do, let's do. Then all of a sudden they just have a change of heart and they're like, Huh, you know, we're going a different direction and they're not following any sort of best practices going forward. They're not taking any of our advice. And we've given it enough of it. And I'm not saying that we could come in, you know, doing it and saying like, this is going to be perfect, but they're in a spot where notoriously just over years in this town, people don't go down to that edge of town.

Marty: 16:25 So you have to use paid strategies to pull them in there and they weren't willing to do it. So then now it's like, all right, we're going to pull it in house and the rumors on the street that the, the whole place is going to shut down after roughly, you know, a little less than a year. That's, you know, bums you out. You know, because at the very beginning of it, they had the right idea. They pulled in everybody I think in the town to kind of get buy in on putting the place there and also changing some of the things, but they just didn't go that one extra mile. So that's a little bit different if I can, you know, can you save my business? Hey, I'm going to open a new location here. We have multiple other successful locations, but we're not looking for what it is.

Marty: 17:06 And it really is one of those things where you're just like, Huh, what are we doing here? So with that, you know, there's certain things when people have that mentality that we're going to hire an agency for a specific location or to save a business. And they don't put everything together, but they're not also not honest with why that marketing may or may not work. They're also not honest with where their financials are and things like that. So I tell everybody where you're hiring bad Reiner, you're hiring another agency, tell them as much as possible, even though some of the things might hurt. And the reason is you come at it with a Nolan fit, you know, a different thing. Like going back to the restaurant one, they were talking about, you know, stuff that they wanted to do later in the year, six, eight months, nine months down the road.

Marty: 17:51 I mean, they just flat out lied, you know, that's just bummed you out. But they gave a false impression. Right. But then us as a, as an agency, you know, people start to see all those things online. They may or may not know it's us, but at the same time, we want to be successful. You know, we don't want to enter into something that is disingenuous. The beginning, the t shirt example, it's just not being on the same page with your investors. They've, I think they made the right move and hiring us and our website design team. But what it was was their main investor was just not on the same page and you couldn't talk to them about anything that we were doing because they didn't care to understand. But meanwhile we're spending their money. Makes no sense. Right. But they were looking at us for a lifeline.

Marty: 18:39 So I, you know, it just doesn't add up. And then the last one is just not really recognizing the area in and just not listening to us as an agency of what you would need to do to do that. Since it isn't a town we're located in, then we do know it and you know, a couple of us have lived here for 20 plus years and we know how long you takes. We've worked with other restaurants in town, you know, that we still work with that we've been very successful with and we've been able to get them over that Hump when they first opened all the way to year three, year four, year five. And the thing is is, you know where we're located here is you have to build a community and the fastest way you can build it is through paid advertising. They set up front that they wanted to do it and then they backed out of it. So I can't save your business, no agency, you can save your business. But if you're entering into an agency relationship, just be as honest as possible. Help both sides. And with that,

Marty: 19:34 you know, we'll move on. So a little bit longer. We're trying to keep these really short. We'll have another episode coming up next week. Not really sure what the topics gonna be, but I think we're going to do a surprise. It's still going to be along these like little rants and a, we'll keep the next one a little bit shorter. So thank you for listening and see you on the next episode of absentees.

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