WHITE PAPER Doing Business in the “Quiet Corner”
Doing business anywhere can be difficult these days... but add in all the special issues with doing business in the rural section of Connecticut and it's downright tough.
There are several things about business and businesses in our region that drive us crazy.
On the one hand, we have the problems of any lightly-populated, semi-rural area. It's hard for businesses to get a good start and grow when customers have to be pulled from all over, against competition (especially that in the bigger towns) and with so few good advertising venues. Word of mouth spreads slowly, sometimes too slowly: customers hear about a great place and show up in time to find it shuttered.
Some of the problems are, if we can be blunt, self-inflicted. There's still a powerful streak of Yankee stubbornness here, guiding business owners down a rutted road that goes nowhere. Maybe there was a time when a business didn't have to advertise or market or promote itself; you opened your doors, hung out a sign, and the town's business came to you. Those days are gone, folks. For every resident who will faithfully give town businesses first priority, there are many more who think nothing of going to the next town, into Hartford (or even Worcester), or to good old Amazon.com. Sitting quietly and expecting trade to find you, as in the old days, is a path to bankruptcy.
We've watched businesses wither and die just like that — friends, even, who wouldn't take our advice and even a little free help. “I work hard,” one said. “I have great products. I go the extra mile and back for every one of my customers. I shouldn't have to do more. That should be enough!”
The sad thing is, this conversation came during our last meeting, as he was selling off his last stock and store fixtures. He had worked hard. He did have great products (and a good location, on a major road.) He was exceptional in finding and meeting his customer's needs. But in the end, all of that quality and effort went to naught because hardly anyone knew he was there. Only those who drove by and heard by word of mouth about him ever became customers. He would not do even the simple communication of making sure he was well-listed online so that new customers could find him and make a quick judgment about whether it was worth the drive up to his small town location, 10 miles from the highway. So he worked hard, old Yankee style... into oblivion.
He's not the only one on our list of local failures. No one who's on that list, should be. All had everything it took to succeed... except the idea that in 2016, even here, promotion — business communication with the customer base — is essential to success.
What might be sadder are those businesses that are a little bit successful — too successful to pack it in, but nowhere near the success they deserve or could have, were they open to using modern business communications just to let people know they're around!
What compounds the problem, even for businesses that try to be in step with the time and place, is that this corner of the U.S. is quirky as all hell. (Which you already knew, right?) So when they go looking for information and help to start using all of the powerful tools that business communications can bring, they get... generic ideas and approaches that might work fine in the general suburban landscape, or larger cities, or parts of the country where there aren't the self-isolating ideas and factors that crush businesses, as above. There's no shortage of boutique experts, and seminars, and books, and “webinars” that purport to teach business owners all the latest tricks.
...tricks that might work fine in more general areas. But not here. The Quiet Corner is a tough, tough place to do business even if you do everything right, and generic solutions to marketing and online presence and that essential communication with potential customers are somewhere between useless and a waste of money. It takes a special understanding of business here, of how the tools of business communication can be used to reach your fellow hard-headed Yankees, without pushing them away with inappropriate suburban heartland or big-city tactics.
We understand the problems of business here. We understand (and admire) the determination of business owners who want to stick with traditional approach. And we know how to bring the benefits of modern business communication to Quiet Corner businesses without bringing the parts that don't work, waste money and alienate potential customers here.
If you're a new or struggling business in the Quiet Corner, let us help... while you still have a business to help. We don't want to add your name to that dismal list of “could haves.”