The hard sell

The easy bit about starting a business is over. That’s the bit where you come up with the idea, think of a name, then tell the taxman what you’re doing.

The hard bit is now. Finding customers. Selling yourself. Marketing your business. Promoting your services.

I realise this is not news to people. Hell, it’s not even news to me. I’ve seen The Apprentice. Relentless self-promotion on laughably limited ability. Thankfully I am lovably self-deprecating with limitless ability …

The hard sell

But my experience to date of marketing is not actually the kind that will win me any custom, limited as it is to the giveaways beloved of red-top newspapers.

A FREE pie – for every reader!

A week in a caravan park for £2.78 – for EVERY reader!

Every single episode of Love Thy Neighbour ABSOLUTELY FREE – for every reader!

You’re getting the picture, right? Not exactly the best grounding for pushing Lead On, Lancing and district’s newest and bestest dog walking service (with apologies to the fab marketing teams I’ve worked with over the years, especially the Daily Record girls who made veritable silk purses out of many a sow’s ear).

Sensibly, I’ve decided not to try and reinvent the wheel. So my first foray into marketing was the time-honoured technique of wearing out the shoe leather putting flyers on car windscreens.

I’ll be honest – to date, there has not been so much as a sniff of interest from anyone whose wheels were adorned by a shiny postcard. And I was a little surprised at the fairly hostile reaction Debbie and I got when handing the cards out at a recent fun day – you’d have thought we were accusing the dog owners we approached of abuse going by the furious refusals even to look at the cards.

Local papers are not the force they once were, either, but once I’ve penned my own press release, plus pics, for Lead On’s launch, I’m sure the Lancing Gazette will be holding the front page. Bet if I take a 4 x 1 in classifieds, I can demand some free editorial too …

The old techniques might have some merit but thank the lords of cyberspace then for t’internet. Cos now just about everyone who wants anything starts their search online (this is probably a ridiculously sweeping generalisation, assuming that everyone has a computer and the inclination/ability to use it to find stuff). I’ve registered on a few free websites – Gumtree, Tendea, FreeIndex – and also paid to have a listing on another from which I’ve actually had the most responses and enquiries.

But I can’t stop thinking about how folks can refuse a card from an actual person but then happily look that same person up online and sent a message enquiring about services. I reckon it’s about anonymity – lots of us are much more comfortable now communicating without ever actually speaking to another person. And I can’t complain cos I’m just as guilty of doing exactly that myself.

Still, at least some brave souls have managed to pick up the phone and call me, meaning Lead On is ratcheting up new customers at the whirlwind rate of … er … 1 a week. It’s a start and a welcome one.

We spent a long weekend in Glasgow for the second leg of our civil partnership celebrations. And what a night Saturday was at the People’s Palace. More than 120 friends and family packed into the Winter Gardens for an almighty hoolie – the ceilidh was a shambolic hoot (kudos to our DJ Robert for at least trying to herd us into some kind of order) and while my planned showstopper of the Barry White dance from Ally McBeal had all the synchronicity of a herd of baby elephants, it was a brilliant laugh to do.

The Dashing White Sergeant proved a challenge for everyone - particularly the snapper

Now the celebrations are over and it’s back to ‘auld claes an’ porridge’ for Debbie and me. Well, at least until our cruise next month …

Blethering idiots

Mockit adj: dirty, filthy. Eg: I’ve only just cleaned up this hoose but it’s mockit again already

Beelin’ v: to be angry, to be in a rage. Eg: I’m pyoor beelin’ that I’ve been let down by so-called customers

Oxter n: armpit. Eg: Debbie and I are up to our oxters in gifts thanks to our wonderfully generous friends and family

Shindig n: a party, celebration, dance. Eg: I can’t wait til tonight’s shindig and a catch-up with all my fave people

Peely-wally adj: pale, fair-skinned, wan. Eg: As soon as the sun comes out, Glasgow folk cannae wait to show aff their peely-wally bodies

Thrawn adj: stubborn, obstinate. Eg: Caveman is a right thrawn wee so-and-so when he wants to be

Simmit n: vest, undergarment. Eg: Away and put yer shirt on, you cannae answer the door in yer simmit

A piece at any door  someone who endears him or herself to everyone they meet. Eg: He’s a right charmer him, he’d get a piece at any door

Skelly n: squinty, askew. Eg: The wean’s eyes were so skelly one was away to the shops and the other was coming back with the change

Breenge v: to dive in or rush in recklessly. Eg: The big yin got an earful from those lassies when he breenged into the middle of their hen party

Birlin’ v: to spin, turn quickly. Eg: My heid’s birlin’ with all the stuff I have to do today

Stoatir n: a person or thing that’s fantastic or fabulous; adj: fabulous, attractive, brilliant. Eg: Yon Michelle Obama is a big stoatir but I wouldnae take a broken pay packet home to her

Laldy n: gusto. v: to do something with great gusto or enthusiasm. Eg: She’s not much of a chanter but she always gives it laldy at the karaoke

Stramash n: a disturbance, a racket, a state of noise and confusion. Frequently applied to incidents in (Scottish) football where every player is trying to kick the ball at the same time. Eg: He lashed wan into the onion bag after an almighty stramash in the penalty box

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