Thursday, August 07, 2014

Learning from a costly mistake

I was recently interviewed and asked about the top three mistakes I’d made in my business.  Only three I thought, that should be easy.

But one came to mind immediately.  It was in the early days of Company of Women, and we’d decided in our infinite wisdom to run a May Play Day on a Saturday for women in the community.  We booked a hotel, lined up presenters, vendors and designed a neat passport, etc… It all looked pretty.. and fun.

We also decided to advertise in the local paper, and that was the big mistake.  We shelled out $6,000 to be on the back page of the paper – yes, the entire page.  It looked beautiful but we neglected to find out if the women we wanted to attract to the event, ever had time to sit down and read that paper.  Clearly they didn’t, because the turnout was low.

Those that came had a wonderful time, but the end result was disappointing.  We learned several important lessons from this mistake –

1.              Stick to what you do and know best.  We did a relatively good job of reaching women business owners, but with members of the community – we had a ways to go.

2.              Do your homework before making a big advertising spend. Check whether your target audience read or get the advertising format you are using. Now today it would be easier with social media, but not back them.

3.              Women don’t always want to play on Saturdays. Women business owners tend to be protective of their weekends. They want to spend them with their families, and Saturdays are usually the day for chores, not coming out to play.

4.              Don’t run before you can walk.   We leapt from evening dinners once a month to this all day, Saturday event.  No one really knew us. We had no history of putting on this type of event. No track record.

5.              It’s a lot of work.  The actual event itself was labour intensive.  We were exhausted at the end of the day, and when we barely covered our costs, we learned the hard way, that it wasn’t worth all the effort.

6.              The first time is always the hardest.  That’s how you learn and certainly with other events we have put on, the second year was way better.  But we were burned, and didn’t go there again.

The key with mistakes is to learn from them and move on.


Imie said...

Thanks for sharing. Knowing your target market and their "pain" and "desire" is definitely one of the things that I've learned the hard way as well.

Silver Compass said...

Yes. Thanks for sharing Anne. There is comfort in knowing that others have made costly mistakes on their way to success. I wish I had the money I spent on the marketing & the setup of my first website for Silver Compass. If only. But yes...I've learned.