Strictly Business: Don't Be a Quitter
Posted Apr 9, 2009

Spring is just around the corner here in Michigan, and it couldn’t come at a better time. Well, I suppose it could have come earlier for those of us who’ve suffered through an unbelievable amount of snow, ice, and gray this past winter.

The funny thing is, we keep plugging along, shoveling, plowing, slipping, and falling. Before we know it, the snow is gone, skies are blue, and the ground is green again after—what, 671 days? (Seems that long, anyhow.)

In the same manner, the businesses that survive and, yes, flourish are the ones that don’t quit even in the most challenging of times. One of my main themes in this column is that not only are we in the video production business, we are also—perhaps more importantly—in the business of marketing our video production business. And the real secret to successful marketing is to market with persistence.
Here are some interesting statistics I pulled from National Sales and Executive Association:

• 48% of people give up on making a sale after the first “no.”
• 20% of people give up after the second “no.”
• 7% of people give up after the third “no.”
• 5% of people give up after the fourth “no.”
• 4% of people give up after the fifth “no.”

And do you know when most sales are made? Seventy percent of all new business is gained after the fifth contact.

So how do you get to those 70% that others leave behind?

Simple: You don’t quit.

The traditional view of advertising is that the more you rain down messages, the more you push a person from being a prospect to being a client. This so-called “saturation advertising” works if you have an unlimited budget—think McDonald’s, Coke, Verizon, or Microsoft. These companies can afford to saturate the market because eventually enough people will see the message and buy the product to warrant the cost of advertising.

You and I, however, can’t afford to buy that kind of saturation, nor is it worthwhile for us to try. I think it makes far more sense (and costs less cents) to decide who your real prospects are and to target them directly.

Most of us already have a database of prospective targets and existing clients. If you don’t, start one using Excel, Access, or even 3"x5" note cards if that approach works for you.

The next step may sound a bit contradictory to making money: Develop an attitude of giving, not receiving. Instead of asking for something (or selling) in your marketing, consistently communicate customer-centered information and good advice. Don’t “bug” people for their business; instead, give them something they can use. It’s that kind of stuff that builds trust in you as a person and your company, products, and services.

I work every day to build rapport, empathy, and lasting relationships with my key audiences. That’s one of the reasons I’ve come to love social media—blogging, social networking, online forums, Twitter, and the like.
Of course, this doesn’t mean I neglect phone contact and face-to-face conversation. All of these options are useful tools for reaching a specific audience on a consistent basis.

Over the years, I’ve found that the effectiveness of marketing depends on these three variables:
• The relevance of the message to an individual’s wants and needs at that exact moment
• The quality of the message (or offer) includes the perceived value of the offer and the perceived quality of the product or service, as well as the quality of the user’s experience of the marketing message.
• The number of times (or frequency) the individual is exposed positively to the message

Surely, if someone is looking for exactly what you offer, and you connect with that person through a well-crafted message that touches all of his or her hot buttons, that person ought to be ready to buy on the first contact.

But if they’re not ready to buy right away, it doesn’t mean they won’t buy at all. Remember, a “no” right now often means “Give me a little more time to think about it.”

That’s where your groundwork pays off. You stay in touch. You provide information. You communicate. Research shows that familiarity and confidence are the primary factors in someone’s decision to buy what you’re selling or refer you to somebody else who’s buying what you’re selling.

Think about it—aren’t these factors in the purchases or referrals you make?

This is where persistence really does pay off. When the time comes for someone to buy what you’re selling, and you’re the one they know and the one who’s been in front of them on a consistent basis, what are the odds they’ll buy from you?

Have confidence. Be persistent. Focus on giving, not receiving. Join the dedicated few who don’t quit.

Steve Yankee (syankee at has more than 35 years of video production and marketing experience and is the founder of The Video Business Advisor in East Lansing, Mich.