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What if you threw a party and nobody came?


It’s summertime in Chicago. A time for festivals, outdoor events and backyard barbeques. We only get a few months of “outdoor activities” weather here, so we really know how to make the most of it. And that includes attending parties, and maybe even hosting one ourselves.

A few weeks ago, a couple that my beautiful wife Michele and I know decided to throw a big summer bash. They made sure that there was just about everything needed for the perfect occasion: a wide variety of great food, plenty to drink and a top DJ pumping out fun, upbeat tunes. There was really just one thing missing: people.

Back when I was just out of college, I remember being in the same disappointing position. I had set everything up, made all the arrangements, bought all the food and drink and cranked up the music in plenty of time before my guests were expected to arrive.

And then I waited. And waited. And waited some more.

Eventually, a few people trickled in, hung around a few minutes just to be courteous, and then left. Soon enough, I came to the sad realization that it just wasn’t going to be the party I had hoped for.

“How could that be?” I wondered. I had put so much into it, I did my best, I did everything right. Right?
Wrong. I concentrated all of my time, money and effort on the actual “party” itself, but I did a horribly inept job of “getting people to show up.”

In business, we call that “marketing.” And it makes all the difference between a smashing success and a frustrating failure – for parties and businesses alike.

So what about your business? Do you provide a great product or service that solves a problem for people? Do you put a lot into it and give it everything you have, but still struggle to make ends meet?

If so, here’s the good news:

Your business has the solid basis necessary for tremendous success. All you need to do now is give 100% towards learning and implementing successful marketing, and stop expecting that just because you offer a top-notch product or service, that alone somehow magically entitles you to have lots of customers and make big profits.

For a perfect example of ineffective marketing, let’s go back to “the party where nobody came” from earlier in this article.

When the host couple finally accepted the fact that basically no one was going to show up to their party, they decided to call some of the people they had invited. The first person they called said, “Oh, I didn’t know you were having a party.”

“But I sent you an email,” came the quick, curt reply.


One email? Really? I told them that’s what I would do if I wanted someone not to show up: send them just one single email, and nothing else.

I asked the host couple if that’s how they had invited their family members to their wedding. Of course they admitted that they used a multi-step campaign to get people to attend their wedding, including mailing “Save The Date” cards and engraved invitations. And if someone they really wanted at their wedding hadn’t yet RSVP’d, say a month before the big day, would they maybe have picked up the phone and given them a call?

“Of course we would have,” was the immediate response.

So would I, so would you and so would anyone.

So why do so many small business owners think that they can attract all the good, loyal, high-paying clients they could possibly want by sending people only emails and ignoring other media, such as direct mail and the all-powerful telephone?

Take a cue from our party hosts and every engaged couple: Treat your prospects and customers as if you actually care if they show up. Do that, and I believe you’ll be very happy with the results.

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