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Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
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Friday, October 06, 2006

Marketing Will Be the Death of Me

Last night’s attempt to enlist some marketing help sputtered to a bad end. Anne and I thought that our friend’s startup was a public relations firm. It isn’t. Muddy Dog Media is actually a video production company – and a damned fine one, I’m sure. Maybe I’d have known that if I’d checked their website instead of glomming onto a PR buzzword that I saw in their press kit. Oh well, it was genuinely nice to see Elaine again, even if she was a little bemused by our misguided appeal for help.

I’ve always known that marketing is my blind spot. See “If You Build It, Will They Come?” for my previous thought on this. Corporate types in suits and haircuts always did the marketing while I ran operations. I thought of them as overpaid parasites. Little did I know.

Nothing has changed since I first posted about marketing back in August. I have made no progress on improving it. My now-defunct eBay store, my almost-monthly newsletter, this blog, my tentative and clumsy efforts at understanding SEO…none of it has made any discernable difference. My small marketing startup budget continues to dribble away, month after month, subsidizing PPC ads. They remain the only thing that works.

The moral of this post is simple: Never try to start a business without working out promotion first. You can't just trust it to work out.

This post would undoubtedly make a professional marketer blanch; expressing doubts must be a huge PR sin. But I said that this blog would not be a happy-talk marketing tool, and I am resolved to keep it honest.

Forthcoming Topics:

  • The Royal We
  • Where the Money Came From
  • Long-term Prospects
  • Planned features
  • O, Canada


  1. Brian W5:58 PM

    I can't even imagine starting a business like this. More to the debt question, what is your cheapest payment method? Perhaps you could find a way to push that and save a percent on that angle?

    Another thing to consider is if friends and family will put up banners on their sites. I would avoid affiliate deals since they will bleed you at this point.

    I wish I had more ideas to help you out. I'll keep it in the back of my mind.

  2. The cheapest payment method would be cash or personal checks, which I happily accept from my friends and family, but which is obviously problematic for a web-based retailer. Money orders/cashiers checks are the next-best thing. Unfortunately, I have to wait for customer to mail them in. I'd say about half of the people who order something and choose Money Order payment never actually pay. Meanwhile, I've got to set aside the merchandise while I await their nonexistent check.

    Purchase Orders are the only other option. Typically, the time from invoice to payment is considerable, and tracking such accounts is nontrivial. Furthermore, the kind of institutions that use POs tend to want discounts and other special considerations. I'm a little reluctant to pursue that business, although certainly open to it when they approach me.

    Credit cards and PayPal cost over 4% of my gross sales -- which is huge, as you know from "The Neverlate Dilemma." Anything that reduces bank processing fees is a very good thing indeed. This may be fodder for a post all its own.

    Thanks for your interest, and for taking the time to comment!


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