Let me tell you about New College, Oxford. Oxford University in England is one of the world’s leading universities and New College is perhaps their finest building. It was designed by master mason William Wynford at the end of the 14th Century.
Fast forward five hundred years and some bright spark figured it was time to check on the condition of the massive oak beams that supported the roof.
Sadly the news wasn’t good. The beams were riddled with termites and in need of replacement. So where do you go when you suddenly need a quantity of huge oak beams? Good question and one the maintenance team pondered.
Happily another bright spark (they’re clever those Oxford-types) figured it might be good to approach the forestry department who had responsibility for the grounds of Oxford University. And delightfully, five hundred years after the building was created remember, the renovation crew were met with a response along the lines of ‘we were wondering when you’d ask ’.
A member of the forestry department pulled out a drawer revealing the original 14th Century plans of New College, where a copse of oak was clearly annotated with a message to the effect of ‘Replacement beams for New College ’.
How wonderful is that? Five hundred years earlier someone had the foresight to sow the seeds to replace the oak trees that would one day be needed to maintain New College. This story is just so relevant for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
So often I see people buried in delivering their work without a thought to marketing. Or, conversely in a mad flurry of panic trying to find customers, and this is usually after a period of being buried in their work.
Funny that. I’ve long called this ‘binge marketing’ and it’s the opposite of sowing seeds.
So focused are they on the job at hand they lose sight of the importance of simply sowing seeds every day. Taking small actions that build in value over time and help ensure a steady flow of work. This is marketing at its simplest and arguably at its finest.
Sowing a seed translates to different things for different people. Here are a few examples:
● Coffee catch-up with acquaintances
● Comment on a blog or forum
● Follow up with past customers
● Drop in to client premises
● Run a simple competition
● Film and share a quick, relevant video
● Ask for testimonials and feedback
● Distribute promo postcards
● Pick up the phone!
It may be calling a contact out of the blue, just to maintain the connection. Having a coffee with a business acquaintance, dropping in to a past customer’s business. Adding a comment on a customer’s blog. Following up a long-completed project to see how things have evolved. Emailing a former customer with a link to an article you know they will find useful.
Far better to be the person who connects regularly through simple seed-sowing steps than to be the kind who sits at home, waiting for the phone to ring.
Successful entrepreneurs never sit idly. Sow seeds to ensure the roof over your head is nice and stable.
Robert Gerrish is the founder of Flying Solo, author of The 1 - Minute Commute and host of the Rekindle podcast. Read more of his work at www.robertgerrish.com