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Ep. 122 Well, That Didn’t Work – Small Business Marketing Mistakes

by | Smart AF Show

Small Business Marketing Mistakes

Well, That Didn’t Work – Small Business Marketing Mistakes

There are many strategies you can use to grow your business; some will work better than others based on your type of business and the season of your business. And if a strategy, ad or campaign doesn’t work it’s okay.

In this episode, Torie Mathis and her cohost Sean reminisce about business building and marketing strategies they tried and failed at. Yeah, there was some money and time spent, but the experiences are priceless. 

Listen or watch the full episode below:


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(transcription is auto-generated)

SAF 122

[00:00:00] Sean: I think it was offered three months, three months. 

[00:00:05] Torie: You pay for that thing for three months. Good. 

[00:00:08] Sean: It was $500 for the three months. So it cost $500. 

[00:00:12] Torie: I thought it was a month for three months. 

[00:00:17] Sean: It was a minimum. It was, it was crazy.

[00:00:29] Torie: Hey What’s up its Torie Mathis I’m your host. And I am here with the one and only sean Mathis, Founder of Mile Through Time Automotive Museum.

[00:00:37] Sean: You had to look at me. 

[00:00:39] Torie: I was waiting for you to start singing some more, doing some rap, you know like you do. You know, I think a lot of people are really worried about screwing things up and that fear of messing things up, stops them from doing anything.

And so. To dispel some of, some of that. My question for you is what is something that you’ve tried a tactic that’s you tried that totally flopped. 

[00:01:12] Sean: With the museum. I paid for a billboard. 

[00:01:14] Torie: Okay. That’s very exciting. We got a picture of the billboard. There it was. 

[00:01:19] Sean: It was a digital billboard, so it wasn’t even like it was a billboard that was always going to be visible. I had to rotate through the cycle of everyone else that was paying for this billboard, but Tory designed it and it did, it looked awesome. It took me like three or four trips driving down the highway to, to catch it, you know, at the time that I was driving by to be able to take a picture of it. And it was neat to say that we had a billboard and all that kind of. And at the time when the billboard was up, I think it was up for three months, three months. 

[00:01:50] Torie: You pay for that thing for three months. Good. 

[00:01:53] Sean: It was $500 for the three months. It took us $500. 

[00:01:57] Torie: I thought it was a month. Three months. 

[00:02:02] Sean: Yeah. It was a minimum. It was, it was crazy. But at the time I was the one that was at the museum. So if anybody came to the museum, they were going to see me. And so I was asking every single person that walked through the door, how did they hear about the museum? That way I can know what was working and see if the billboard was working. And during that time, two people walked into the museum and said, they just saw this billboard. And those two people came together and that was it. 

[00:02:35] Torie: Were they worth all $500. 

[00:02:37] Sean: They were not. 

[00:02:37] Torie: You know, we talk about like that type of. Advertising is really hard. You see, what’s the guy, the mark Spain. So here, in the south, I thought it was just the Atlanta area, but we’ve taken some trips and this mark Spain guy gets around.

Like he, he’s got quite the big area, Mark Spain, billboards everywhere. Like everybody’s got to know who this guy is, faces. He must spend a bazillion dollars a year. Or he owns the builder. Like, I don’t know. Does he have a side billboard company? I dunno what it is, but that is a different type of advertising than a really small business.

Like even if it’s a high traffic area, I don’t know, like that is a rough one. Like that is definitely not something that I would suggest to somebody unless they just had money to like Mark Spain money. You got mark Spain money. Don’t get yourself a billboard or five. 

[00:03:37] Sean: $10 and I spent 500 to get 10. 

[00:03:41] Torie: And that’s a hard one too, because you, most people are not the one that’s always there. So you wouldn’t know if there was some residual or if that really paid off. Like Sean does a lot of marketing and spends money on Facebook. And he knows that that is, is working. Like when you have a way for you to tell if it’s working like that’s where you want to put your money unless you have mark Spain money, unless you have Pepsi money or at, and T money that you can do. Let’s just throw our logo on everything. Like most small businesses really can’t do that. 

[00:04:13] Sean: What I think that’s what people wind up getting caught up in the, I dunno if it’s glamorous the word I want to say, but they’re like, Ooh, billboard, my logos on coffee cup there. Yeah. I got my own Miles Through Time shirts and hats and all that, but it kind of makes sense for the museum, but if you’re a pest company, nobody wants your damn shirt.

I have most likely, you know unless it becomes a brand that everyone’s like, you know, that pest company, but odds are that it really. But they get caught up on like, hi, it’s so cool because it’s, you know, I get it. It’s your business and you, you’re proud of it. And you want it, all these kinds of things, but it’s so easy to just blow the money on all this stuff. I mean, Yeah, you can get your name on pins, and really it’s not that expensive, but do you need 300 pins and drop 150 bucks on them?

Yeah, probably not. If koozies, how many damn koozies do we have? You don’t need that either. Now, if you’ve got money burning holes in your pockets and you’re wanting to do that. 

[00:05:32] Torie: State farm, like you, have your state farm agent at some type of event. And they have like all this shit. And you’re like, ah, I want all that shit too. Like they didn’t buy that state farm is giving them a budget to get the chotchkies shit. That’s not their money. Do you know what I mean? Right. That they’re using, they have this allowance that, that corporate is giving them. That’s Pepsi money. That’s Mark Spain money. That’s not like the regular business.

And like, you don’t need that shit. No. We did, like, we did a couple of little business venture things and the partner that we were working with, they let’s do chotchkies shit and we bought pens and, you know, we do marketing. We have lots of different. Yes. We have lots of different accounts that are What’s the word for that where we get vendor pricing.

Right? So we’re like now where the, like, we do it for printing, what’s the word they’re like, we’re the distributor. So we’re getting it at costs that kind of whole. We have a lot of companies that we work for because of the marketing type stuff that we do, that we have like wholesale accounts with them.

So we weren’t paying like what a lot of people would pay. We got them at a really great price. But we still wasted all of our money on pens and koozies that I guarantee you are still sitting in her house. 

[00:06:59] Sean: Oh yeah. 

[00:06:59] Torie: Wish I had those pens sometimes, but I don’t. And so all that, like chotchkies shit like, Ooh, I think it’s easy to see it. I agree. I think people see that other people have it and they want their baby to be on a billboard. And you know what? 

[00:07:14] Sean: I spent money for ads and magazines and various. Other places. And it always came down to, I felt like I needed to do something that you gotta, you gotta advertise. And then some of it was, you know, local ish things.

So I was trying to do stuff that was local and all that, but ultimately it, it, it all wasn’t worth it. And really I was when I was there every day at the museum, I think. I could have people come in every single day, wanting me to spend money with them and I’d have I have no. Yeah to spend, I mean, at $5 a 

pop for somebody to come in and that’s the only money, real money that the museum’s generating. Like it doesn’t add up that quick. 

[00:08:03] Torie: Okay. I can tell you that. When I first started and you know, I’ve talked about this before, I have a degree in advertising, like I have a really fancy degree, right? When I started my business like I had no idea how to get clients. That was not something that we were taught.

You. Weren’t taught how to market and run a business and grow a business. Like I was taught how to do ads, ad campaigns. So when I ended up starting my business, like I did like hustle and ask a lot of people and, and like that really did work. What didn’t work is I bought a list of new businesses from the county.

And not a damn thing happened to that. Like I had this list and we still to this day get clients that want us to do like email campaigns for them. Like, we are great at setting up email campaigns and emailing for our clients. So, you know, they stay consistent on that and they come. With these purchased lists, these spammy Bourges list.

So people are still doing this. So, you know, you can get a list of email clients that you grow yourself that are prospects buying a list of businesses and spamming them is not the way it did not work. It does not work for these other people. You are so much better to do it just a little bit slower and get people that are actually interested.

[00:09:26] Sean: She dealt the old school way of doing that. And then snail mailing. ’em something, the odds of that. I think he really had to capture their interest with something, but odds are like, you did get it in front of their eyes one way or another. And then whether it was good enough for them to actually look at it a little bit more, just toss in the garbage. 

[00:09:46] Torie: Kennedy people they, we have like a bunch of coaches that we’re in some groups with. And so some of them are these Dan Kennedy marketers. And so they actually teach them to like, send lumpy mail. Like you purposely make it lumpy and you stick something in there to force P like, it gets interesting. It’s a way to get people to get in yet.

But to me, like you’re still ugly. They do ugly stuff, but you’re still spamming people and yeah, you got them to open it. But man, the the cost involved and the materials involved to do that like there’s away. 

[00:10:18] Sean: It’s there in front of them. So. You’ve got a better opportunity to, from that, where this email address that’s coming from some random place like that shit is getting deleted. 

[00:10:30] Torie: Not as good as when somebody calls, Sean picks up cars for the museum. I don’t pick up the phone. I take messages, you know, and I call people back and things. But Sean has to answer the museum calls. Cause most people are calling to see if they’re open or maybe they want to donate something. And so how many times a day to Sean pick up the phone? And hang right up, like, and they say, don’t hang up. Like that’s as good as it’s spam emailing people. Like if you’re just going to call people and say, don’t hang up, cause I’m going to try to sell you something. 

[00:10:58] Sean: I prefer that a lot more because then I know to hang up on him versus, Hey, what’s going on? What’s going on? And so I’m calling you today, you know, I don’t have time for this man.

[00:11:11] Torie: Yeah. So anything else? What about business wise? Have you tried things? There’s a few things that you tried that just didn’t work out. 

[00:11:19] Sean: So initially when, when we started Miles Through Time, it was based on the storage need that I needed specifically for our 59 Cadillac coupe, Deville and needed a place to put that car.

[00:11:31] Torie: And it’s a big ass car. It is really big. 

[00:11:34] Sean: And so, and the whole concept was to display this car while it’s in storage. And then I could still play with it when I want it to, but while it was. And it was just in storage. It was actually going to be displayed as a museum exhibit. So people could see it in a climate controlled environment and learn about it and all that.

And that’s pretty much the gist of what Miles Through Time started as. To get the cars and have enough of them on display. We had to branch out a little bit. And so my idea was offering consignment. So we’d have some cars for sale and it provided inventory for the museum. And then I really wanted to, I was like, if I need storage, I there’s gotta be other people that need storage.

So I really tried to push the store. I later found out relatively quickly. We were in a rural area where people didn’t need storage. The people that had these extra cars had shops in all kinds of places to put them because we weren’t in a in a place that was, you know, mostly neighborhoods and places where people might have money in these extra cars and nowhere to park them like that, that wasn’t the case. So nobody needed this story. 

[00:12:39] Torie: Once Sean started the museum, like the people that came out were like, oh yeah, so-and-so has like, they, they build these like little warehouse buildings, these gigantic shed what would you call them? Like, it’s more of a shed, but they have all their cars in like, Tons of cars, but because they have the land, they’re able to just do that.

Oh yeah. So-and-so has a warehouse full of cars and so-and-so, and so-and-so like all these different. 

[00:13:04] Sean: The purpose chicken coops, the cars, I mean, shops that were larger than the museum. I’m trying to tell them about that didn’t work out. No. And so then, you know, it was, it was consignment, right? And then there was, there’s no shortage of people wanting to sell their stuff.

The problem I came, I encountered was. Costs initially of being able to legally sell these cars. So the license itself, no big deal, but the requirements to hold the license, as far as a bond and a building and the phone and all of these other business aspects of it that make it legitimate, which are great, they serve their purpose for anybody trying to sell a car. But the selling aspect was so secondary to what my interest was. It really could I just kind of putting a damper on what I was trying to do. 

[00:13:53] Torie: Well, it really, it did kind of dumb down the museum and kind of not give it the value that we really wanted it to have. But it also, and you stuff like this sucks because it was the thing that had the potential to make the most money yet.

It was the most time sucky. Aspect people were shitty. People would try to bargain with you after you already said that there was no bargaining in there. And so it sucks that it ended up being the thing that could have made lots of money, but what’s the worst aspect of everything. 

[00:14:28] Sean: I mean, it was only consignment, so we’re not talking. Dealer cars that I own trying to sell. I’m trying to sell somebody else’s car while it’s on display in a museum. And so I only know what they told me and I can only sell it for what they’re willing to let me sell it for, you know, so if a car is worth, you know, let’s say 20 grand and they want 19 for it.

I’ve only got a thousand dollar profit range in there that I could potentially make because they won’t take any less. Well, I go and I find out, you know, there’s better cars for $15,000 and they won’t take any less. Or, you know, there, there was instances where that $20,000 car I can, I could list it for 30, but you know, it, it, it still won’t sell. And then, you know, there’s, there’s too much. Put on the price of cars and the lack of control I had over it. 

[00:15:28] Torie: Well, I think part two, like Sean took these videos and photos and was like incredibly detailed at making sure that all parts of the cars, like with the car running, opening, everything, and people would contact you.

And you’d say, did you watch the video? Did you look at all the things? And they’re like, yep, yep, yep. Do you know about this? You good with this? Good with this? Yep. I just want to see it in person. And then they would get like, Sean’s like, okay, we’ll make it. Cause he’s got to make a special trip to go out there.

And then they, they obviously did not watch the video or look at the photos because they would waste your time over and over and over again. 

[00:16:07] Sean: It wasn’t from you know, it’s not what they expected kind of a thing. It was the price of the car is X and they know that. And I tell them, you know, this is the price of it. I don’t have any, you know, bargaining power. Cause I’m trying to, to make the, the, the price of the car, you know, just enough of what the owner of the car has set the price at. And so, yeah, like I’ll come and, you know, so I drive my hour, there they drive however far they’re there. And and next thing you know, they, they don’t even hit me with a thousand or $2,000 less it’s like $10,000. Like. Close to the asking price. And we just, I wasted my time. I wasted their time and that’s to say if it was a day off in the museum and I went all the way there. Now, if I was already there operating the museum, now I’ve got a whole nother set of challenges.

Cause I’m still the only one there trying to operate the museum for visitors to come by answering the phone and keeping the door secure and all this kind of stuff. Now I’ve got maneuver cars potentially in and out to make room for this one that needs to come out that may be, or may not need to be test drove.

[00:17:16] Torie: And I could see that why people get stock in their business, because like we said, like it was an ability to make a lot of money yet. So much hassle and stuff, but that lure of like, but I could make so much that people would get stuck and stuff that is just not we’ll see. 

[00:17:34] Sean: And if I, if I didn’t have your help on organizing the books, he could easily have been, you could have assumed or thought that you were making the you’re making a lot of money, but because of how we were organizing everything.

It was very clear that it was not profitable, even though, I mean, I, we, at one point we had how much money you had. We had tons of money coming in, but then a bank, it was money. It was money in and out. And it, it wasn’t a good business model. It alone, as far as consigning cars and the storage, and then.

The main focus, it just kept getting muddier and muddier. I mean, the museum. Was what I wanted to do. I want, I wanted people to be able to come in to a museum and enjoy the history that we had on display and learn something new. I didn’t really care about selling cars or even having storage because the storage comes into a whole nother challenge of, Hey, I want my car out.

So now I’ve got to go and make it so that they can get their car out in and out. And there’s headaches to that. And you know, is it worth my time when ultimately again, all I want is the museum. So I, I mean, I totally learned the hard way. 

[00:18:56] Torie: I think sometimes you have to learn the hard way. At least you are willing to do it. Like, I think people are not willing to trust. Or you figure out that you’re in something that you’re like, Ooh, I don’t like this. Like, you can work yourself out of it. Like it might take some time and it took you time to get out of it. And now the museum is a museum. It is not a storage facility though.

There might be a couple of cars on storage. Like it just, it just, it’s not a main state, but, but there is a use for it here and there. When people move and stuff like that, are there remodeling or things like that. So there is a small portion to it, but the sales, like it didn’t work. And so I think that’s good that you were able to let that go.

And yeah. Being organized with the money is super important because I’ve worked for businesses in the management side, you know, in the office side where you could see that like at the end of the day, There was not a lot of money in money out, but there was not a lot of money to be kept. And just because you are doing business or doing even a lot of business doesn’t mean that you’re making any money, you know, and that’s, that’s a scary thing.

You know, one of the things that I tried, because everybody always says, you need to niche down niche down niche down. Like you need to be very specific on who you serve. And so we had several clients that were And so I decided like, okay, I’ll make up a little program for preschools that have been like what I’ve already done.

And I was able to actually work out a deal to be like a, a, a, what would you call that? Not a sponsor, but like a vendor for a, a full California organization. 

[00:20:33] Sean: Preferred vendor. 

[00:20:34] Torie: Yeah. Preferred vendor for like this entire, the California preschool, whatever association, whatever the hell it was. And I really thought that that was going to be really great. And I spent all this time and money traveling and going to their conference and found that the people they sent a conference or not the owner. I met so many people. They were so nice. They were not the decision-makers like it. So then when I was able to actually like, make a little bit more contact, like they didn’t want to spend the money that like, they were definitely not the right fit for where I was and like how all that was going to work out.

I wasted a lot of time. I wasted a lot of money. Got a handful of websites through it, but it definitely didn’t end up being something that ended up being long-term. I was willing to try, I tried to do that and it definitely did not work. And a couple of the clients that we did have were probably not like the greatest clients either.

No, that sucks too. Like I think part of that, like defining who you want for your clients is part of it is like, you have to make sure like that those are your people. And not that like preschool people, aren’t my people. Right. Like, they were just a few of those people. Like, we’re not like my, my dreamy clients that I would love to work with.

They had no money, they were very, very busy. They had lots of turnover and so I felt like a lot of them like didn’t have somebody to trust. They were always like going through a number too. And yeah, it was just not something that, that ended up working out, but, you know, Yeah, it didn’t really work out.

[00:22:17] Sean: It happens. 

[00:22:17] Torie: It happens, but that’s okay. And I think the more you can test out these things and see if they’re going to happen. I mean, you try not to waste money on it. But sometimes it happens. 

[00:22:27] Sean: Yeah. You just pivot and keep moving forward. I mean, that’s really all you can do unless you’re prepared to fold up and quit. And I mean, sometimes that’s the option, but a lot of times it’s not necessary. 

[00:22:40] Torie: Yeah. And you know, I think people say that like you need to market and you need to spend all this money. So I thought I had to do that. And I thought I had two people said, oh, you, you should, you’re a veteran. You should get the certification to be a veteran business.

And then people will come to you. Like those were the worst clients that I, it was horrible people payed late. They didn’t want, so I was in the beginning, so worried about like what I was supposed to do, because I wasn’t sure that I tried a bunch of stuff that didn’t feel good that. And I stuck with it a little bit longer than I probably should have, because I felt like that was what I was supposed to do.

It would be like you in the cars, if you did it for, you know, years and years, because you felt you were supposed to sell cars, like you can’t get wrapped up in stuff because somebody else told you you’re supposed to, or because it has the possibility to make you money, but it makes you miserable. Like some things don’t work, some things flop and some things you find are just not for you. And I think that that’s okay. 

[00:23:40] Sean: Yeah. I mean, really that’s like the museum right now. There’s still people that ask about buying cars and like, I could probably make extra money right now. The way things are. If I implemented it somehow to sell cars, it’s not what I want to do. And it’s, it’s not worth my time to go down that route to sell cars.

So I’m not going. I’ve already, I’ve already pivoted away from it. And I, that’s not the direction I want to go. And it’s not, it’s not just about money, you know, because yeah. I could make money, but then if I really break it down and start to think about the amount of time that I’d have invested in that, like, is it worth it? And the answer for me is no. 

[00:24:22] Torie: Everybody’s got to look at that for themselves and see if that is worth it for them.

We have new shows every Tuesday and Thursday, and we would love it if you would come and join us and we will see you on the next one. Thanks.

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hi im torie
I help entrepreneurs  learn digital marketing.
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Hi! I'm Torie!

Torie Mathis HeadshotI help entrepreneurs (like you) use digital marketing to get more clients + make more money. And I make it easy!

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