Are You Begging for Business?

Are You Begging for Business?

Call me shallow, but I judge a book by its cover – and I judge who I buy from the same way.

When I’m thinking of giving a business my money, I pay attention to first impressions. Do they have a nice website? Do they have a “real” business or operate out of their bedroom? What does their About page photo look like? Is their name well known? Do they have staff or is it a one-man show?

Like I said, I’m shallow.

I’m swayed by swanky. I’m impressed by good looks. I love a credible appearance that makes me feel like I’m working with someone of status. I adore elite, and I hate low end.

So when it comes to spending money, I need to feel like you’re someone worth my cash – and someone who can make my spending become an investment. I don’t really care whether you can get me from point A to point B. I assume that if you’re a business expert of some sort, you can.

I care whether you’ll get me to point B in a Ferrari or a Lada.

But that’s just me.

That’s not how everyone thinks, though. I’ve noticed a lot of people adulate the underdog. A business owner writes a blog post admitting being nearly broke, facing bankruptcy, having no clients and basically going under…

And they support the person.

Self-proclaimed experts who struggle seem to continually dodge the misery-ending bullet because of it – and I don’t get it. They expose the nitty-gritty details of their struggles, like how they’re going through a divorce, seeking medical attention, losing their home or unable to afford flying somewhere posh, and then they pitch their services.

Incredibly, they get sales.

People buy from failing businesses and struggling “experts” all the time, every day. I don’t know whether they do so out of pity or to be a helping hand or simply because they feel guilty they have money and the poor business owner doesn’t, but when someone whines that times are tough, people dig in and fork out.

It makes no sense to me.

Personally, there’s no way in hell I’d give money to a failing business that’s falling apart or an expert publically announcing a lack of clients. I lose a lot of respect for people who exalt that sort of “transparency” and “humanism” so they can dodge hard work, marketing strategies, business planning and plain old professionalism.

Don’t tell me that you’re struggling. Make me think you’re a victorious winner who rocked your world – and that you can rock mine.

I get wanting to be nice to people, though. I’ve given money without question to a few friends who really need it. I help where I can. But when I’m thinking of hiring someone or buying a product, I want to give my money to someone successful who makes me feel confident I’m putting my money in the right place.

I guess I’m just special that way.

I’m beginning to wonder if “failing business” isn’t the new brand strategy. Promoting hard times seems to work well, after all. Just throw up a blog post about how you’re struggling hard to make ends meet, and offer a huge sale, discount your services, beg for clients, or post a donation button.

And you’ll be fine. In fact, you might even come out smelling like roses.

Like I said, I don’t get it. It’s like the internet is a best friend, the one people turn to for help when times are tough. But here’s the thing:

The internet isn’t your friend. Not when you’re in business.

What makes people think being desperate is an income strategy? Is this the fallback effect of successful, smarter people who don’t beg telling everyone to be genuine, real and “human”?

Or are people just blind to the boundaries that should exist between professional business and private life?

You don’t see Coke or Apple or Mercedes moaning over their fourth-quarter losses and begging you to buy from them to keep their company alive. Why? Because they understand the importance of reputation, credibility, and a respectable image.

They know these things build trust with their customers. They know that reputation means everything – and they work hard to maintain theirs.

But hey, why bother going to all that trouble, right? Begging works. Desperation gets sales. And your ‘community’ of blog readers? Well, just tell them how badly your business is doing, and they’ll save you.

Then again, maybe they won’t. Because maybe they’ll think this:

If you can’t succeed with your business, what makes you think you can help them with theirs?

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.