Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Non-Marketing of a small business

I have recently come into a slow patch with my business.  Which I attribute to non-marketing or basically doing nothing to promote my business.  It has led me down the path to "shameless self promotion".

 I have spent countless hours in my shop perfecting the art of imperfect concrete.  Not imperfect in the sense of "shoddy" work but more in the way of allowing concrete to be just that -concrete. Small pinholes and natural movement in the pieces are a desired effect.  As well, concrete generates a beautiful patina over time and also shows signs of use.  Along the lines of an old leather jacket or butcher block.   Not like a plastic countertop from everybody's favorite mega impersonal box chain store.

I am a 4th generation craftsman and have a very good eye for detail.  Details are what separate the men from the boys.  But without any clients what does attention to detail get you?  A wallet with moths in it and a bank account that is laughing at me!

All this time in the shop has allowed me to embrace concrete and all its nuances, but it has not led to my phone ringing off the hook.  I have managed to stay consistently busy for the last year and beyond with  basic word of mouth.  I am now making the switch to a more aggressive self promotion.  My promotional postcards are in press, expected in 7 days.  I plan on "attacking" the market like a caged animal let loose on architects, designers, and builders.  In the next few weeks I will be bombarding all of the previously mentioned.  I realize that I should have been doing this the whole time.  I guess (actually I know) that I lack the confidence to sell myself.  Well screw it, what do I have to lose?  I don't have much work right now so the only thing to come will be more work I guess.  Whats the worst they could say?  NO!  I can take that.  I've been told no a lot in my life and i'm still alive and kicking.  No worse for the wear either.

  So if you are an architect/designer in or around Santa Cruz ca, be on the lookout for a blond hair,blue eyed, mohawked and fully sleeved concrete designer knocking on your door.  I mean business, and am taking no prisoners.  A great friend of mine told me "you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince".  Well pucker up all you architects and designers cause I just put some chapstick on and I like tongue!

I pose a question to the handful of readers of this, what do you recommend on attracting clients?  I am young, hungry and looking to blow some socks off with my concrete!  What has worked for you?
I would love some feedback on what has worked and what has been a waste of time or money.

Paul Neall


  1. Your current position is a familiar one for me and I suspect many other small business owners starting out on a shoestring. When one wears many hats, such as marketer, builder, designer, accountant, making templates, installing, cleaning shop, gathering supplies, repeat, how does one find the time to also bring in new business? We rely on word of mouth at first, but there comes a tipping point at which we need to take it to the next level. In this age, your web presence must be top notch and established. I get a good deal of leads from my website, which I designed and made myself in addition to the aforementioned tasks. Also, I might recommend home and garden shows, as it allows people to touch and see what makes your concrete so unique, something a postcard cannot totally convey.

    Your time spent perfecting the imperfect concrete won't be spent in vain. It is this initial time without a lot of business that allows guys like us to hone our craft and prepare us for the next level, which will surely come if we mind our cashflow and keep pressing forward. Let me know how the postcard campaign goes, and good luck Paul.

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