Happy new year to all!
Who was nice and who was naughty over the Christmas holidays? Either way, I hope you made the most of the festive season, both personally and commercially.
Just as you should be raising a glass to the health of you and your loved ones, you should be doing the same with regard to your company.
More often than not, when Dec. 31 arrives, a sense of rueful reflection descends upon me. I invariably think about the preceding 360-odd days. What went right? What went awry? What could I learn?
In other words, I’d been performing my own marketing audit of sorts. And later as the bells duly brought in the new year, a toast would be made to everyone’s good health.
As it transpires, there’s more than a fleeting similarity between a marketing audit and the not insignificant matter of one’s health … and your own erotic retail business.
We’re all aware of public health campaigns telling us to get checked out for various potential things. Men are urged to check their dangly bits for unusual lumps and bumps; women are urged to go for breast and cervical screening.
But where’s the due diligence or preventative care when it comes to your own pleasure product business? Does it — especially if you have employees to consider — not matter that if the business is not going well, then this itself will soon enough become a bona fide health issue (probably increased blood pressure and stress levels) as well as a business one?
Obviously, you’ve still got the Valentine’s Day build up. You’re forgiven for not dropping everything and launching into a marketing health check when working flat out keeping stock levels up, running various promotions, responding timely and informatively to customer enquiries, and many other associated tasks.
But before too long, you’d be well advised to see to it. And if you already have a feeling that your season wasn’t up to par, then it’s time to take action sooner rather than later.
How you react will probably depend on two things: your time and your money. How’s your cash flow, revenue and profits? How does your current ratio (current assets divided by current liabilities) stack up?
If you’re in pretty good shape then treat your audit as the sensible thing to do, like your regular medical check-up and tests. And if — perish the thought — something not quite normal appears in the results that’s not quite right, then you’ve got options for moving forward. The sooner you know where you stand the better, n’est-ce pas?
And, not to put too fine a point on it, if your financials are in decent order, you can bring in some expert outside help — or hire additional in-house resource — to help you get back in shape. Time and money gives you options. Clichéd, yes, but true nonetheless. Or, do it yourself: there’s a plethora of online marketing resources to help you perform your own marketing audit.
I guess it comes down to one’s own individual attitude; whether you’re the kind that likes knowing the facts and which way the wind blows versus the ignorance-is-bliss approach. That said, I don’t think for a moment that whoever you have overseeing the company accounts will be in favour of the latter (and if they are, hot tip: find somebody else).
Unfortunately, though, there’s another scenario which as a marketing consultant, I see all too often. It’s the business owner who needs help immediately because the business is not going well and is now in a precarious financial state. They either ignored the danger as it progressively increased, or presumed that when things got sufficiently bad it could be rectified overnight. No such luck.
Let’s continue with the medical motif. The company has been rushed to hospital by its distraught owner and is now beside it as it’s quickly pushed into the emergency room where the consultant is waiting.
Consultant: What’s wrong with it?
Owner: It’s not making money any more, in fact it’s losing it. It’s losing it bad.
Consultant: OK, I need to ask you some questions.
Owner: But we don’t have time. Look, it’s dying!
Consultant: So, what do you want me to do? I’ve got nothing to go on. You’ve not given me any background information, any details of underlying problems or issues.
Owner: Just do something! Anything!
Consultant: What do you fancy? Some open surgery? Or how about I amputate something? Or I could swathe it in iodine then draw some fancy lines on it with a big black marker pen?
Owner: Will it help?
Consultant: Of course not.
Owner: Are you crazy?
Consultant: Hey, you started it.
And if you think I’ve employed too much dramatic flourish, be mindful that there is such a thing in marketing-land as a ‘survival matrix’; a 2x2 grid comprised of either inefficient or efficient marketing tactics coupled with effective or ineffective marketing strategy. If you’ve got an ineffective (or non-existent) marketing strategy, and your tactics are also inefficient, then your company will, as the matrix literally highlights, die quickly.
In more practical terms, if you’re already juggling excessive plates in order to save your business, how on earth are you going to allocate time to collate the necessary data a consultant or advisor needs so they can provide sound counsel and identify what’s to be done? Also, let’s assume some customer analysis is required, including some primary research, to get to the bottom of things. Think this can be done overnight?
And finally, don’t fall for any snake-oil sales talk from anyone professing to be able to turnaround a business before the next morning. How can such a charlatan recommend a course of action when they’ve not even had the time to diagnose the problem?
So, in conclusion, just as you should be raising a glass to the health of you and your loved ones, you should be doing the same with regard to your company. Just as you go to your doctors and dentists for your check-ups, or take the car for its service, make a commitment — call it a new year’s resolution if you want — to treating your erotic retailing business in the same way.
After all, isn’t this the best industry to be in where you can genuinely say you’re in “rude health”? Make it happen!
Brian Gray — founder and head consultant at Lascivious Marketing, based in Glasgow — helps manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers in the adult industry improve their marketing performance through strong brand creation, better customer understanding and insight, tailored marketing planning and communications through focused effort. He can be contacted at lasciviousmarketing.com, found on Instagram @LasciviousMarketing or phoned on +44 (0)141 255 0769.