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die hard

Back home in Canada, I finally successfully exhausted all my fliers by the midnight of July 13th, and contentedly waited for orders to come in. Amidst the wait, through God’s inspiration I came up with a couple more marketing strategies.

I started by making forwarded email messages with info on Pearl Creations, like other companies do. The first one wasn’t too cute so I made another that beat it hands down and made another about 3 weeks later that had some of my info and stuff. Hopefully, the friends and family I sent them to, read and forwarded them as well.

Next, I started reading a really good magazine- black enterprise. It’s a magazine that publishes the success stories of black executives, big & small time entrepreneurs. It also had tons of hints and advice for upcoming entrepreneurs. I followed their methods closely and it was super helpful. I learnt how to draft a good business proposal and how to make a good company information script- a document that had the information about my company in a clear, precise and attractive form.

I got a lot of help from black enterprise. I also read an article about what makes a good website and quickly updated mine. I actually got a lot of help on the improvement of the website though. I got a customer from West Africa who liked the idea, but just didn’t understand what exactly the buttons were. He thought they were like shirt buttons. I found that very amusing, but then I figured he might have not been the only one who wondered. So I first of all, I took the pains to explain to him in detail although, I got frustrated a couple of times. He eventually placed an order 🙂 so it was worth the trouble lol. That same night, I made a “product” page that explained what the products were especially the buttons; and then put in some extras as well. I read about an article about a good “about us” page. Got the proper format, applied it and modified mine…I also got some help with that from God and my uncle as well.

My uncle said nothing beats word of mouth, which I agree. So along with the lesson I learnt from my mistake at the Tiara festival, I decided to get business cards. I designed a business card and ordered a couple. At least with that, I could walk up to people, talk to them about my business and give them my card to contact me…it’s also kind of cool as well giving out cards….”here’s my card, you should give us a call sometime” lol.

The next strategy was probably the best suggestion I had gotten yet. An uncle of mine in the U.K. advised me to send emails out the organisations. I tried it earlier, but I kept my focus very low. I emailed literally hundreds of ethnic student groups and got about 3 replies. It was quite discouraging. I hadn’t look at the big picture or realised the business’ full potential. I visited the websites of various ethnic and multicultural groups, got their contacts and emailed them one after the other. I told them about myself, how I started, what I do, how I could be of service, sent pictures of buttons that would interest them, and also, just to prove my authenticity and I wasn’t a fraud, I added the link to the write-up on me in the news- the Hamilton Spectator.

Surprisingly, I got feedback from a lot of them. I’d say about 35% of the emails I sent were responded to. I began to see how much work working is as compared to school. You know you have to do it to survive, while with school, well it’s sort of negotiable.

After doing that, he also suggested I emailed international organisations such as Wimbledon, the Olympics and U.E.F.A. etc. and tell them I was seeking contacts with them…that way I sell in bulk, make more and get more publicity. This meant my emails were going to be contractual applications/emails. I thought it was a long shot and going to be a big leap, but I did it anyway. Since these were big organisations, I decided to email and write them. I sent my emails in the same format: introduction of myself and then of my company, my products, my services, usefulness to them, my plans, attached pictures of buttons that would interest them, and the news link. I also applied the same format in the letters except that I had to make them very formal (obviously), brief and precise. I couldn’t attach pictures or the news link. This is where the company information script came in useful. I was so happy everything fell into place. I addressed one to the Olympics Committee in Beijing, China; one to the 2010 winter Olympics committee in Vancouver, Canada; and several to several European organisations and groups. I gave the uncle I was staying with the finalised letters to proofread…lucky for me he’s an English language major. He made some minor corrections and I necessary adjustments. Next, prayed over them, I attached all of them in an email and sent them to my uncle in the U.K. He also proofread them and then mailed them for me.

All in all, I’m sure I emailed and/or wrote about 60 organisations and groups! My fingers were burned out! Within weeks, I was almost losing hope and contemplating re-sending emails and letters. Eventually, I got very positive feedbacks from the first two and the go! I was so excited and thankful to God! I think I even blacked out cuz I can’t remember what I did besides beaming all over the place lol. This was a good sign and a good beginning – the dawn of $$$ lol.

Less I forget, I also decided to make a survey. I read in an online business article that surveys help you better your company’s productivity, customer service and makes the customer feel important and like part of the company. After about 2 days of learning how to make one, planning questions and editing, it was ready. I emailed all my former customers, all my facebook groups’ (pearl creations, national buttons and all-me buttons) members and announced it in my status message…I’m presently still announcing it. I also continued with my emails to organisations, companies, groups and event organisers. I dwelled a lot on Canadian organisations especially those in Ontario. After all I discovered Ontario was one of the top 5 places to do business in Canada, so what did I have to lose?

I put my printer to a second good use and printed out my 2 fliers/sheet posters. I made about 50 color and b/w copies. I made a few adjustments too. For example, the Canadian fliers have the national buttons of the major ethnicities in Canada, like China, India and Italy; and also included the company’s telephone number. I did that so people could call instead of waiting till they got home before they could order. And I bet by then, most people would be tired and would have forgotten about the flier, talk less of the website or ordering.

The first day, I began by pasting my fliers between the hours of 3.00am and 5.00am in apartment buildings, shopping complexes and light posts. Later that morning, I woke up to a message on the answering machine. I was like wow, an order already? I got my order booklet, a pen and pressed play. It definitely wasn’t an order. It was the superintendent of my own building saying he didn’t like the fact that we posted fliers all over the place, he had taken all of them off early in the morning and we shouldn’t do it again. Thank goodness he didn’t know it was me lol. I figured no one got a chance to see them. I didn’t get calls from all the others, but I guessed it might have been the same case cuz not one order came in 😦

I decided to take a different approach. I emailed my friends in different colleges across Ontario asking if they knew of places in their schools where students could put posters/fliers without hassle. They all replied positively. I asked if they wouldn’t mind printing out the fliers for themselves and pasting them for me, and they all agreed. So now I have the fliers in some colleges across Ontario :). Plan to contact some friends in the states soon. Next, I decided go to places and ask for permission to post the fliers in their offices, apartment buildings etc before doing so. I’m yet to begin that though lol.

My most recent endeavour and leap of faith was my approach to the Nigeria High Commission, Ottawa, Canada. I sent an email in the usual format: my name, company name, products, services and contract permission. I made a letter in the usual formal format and attached the company info script. I was extra nervous because I was going to send this one out myself. This was the embassy I was sending this to, not just anyone, and I addressed it to the High Commissioner for that matter. I proofread my email and letter about four times, and sent both email & letter out the same day. I sent the letter by XpressPost so it could get there the next day and so I could also track it. To my greatest delight, I got a call from him in the “flesh” about 10 days later. When I heard my cell phone ring, I picked it and saw the caller ID – Nigerian High Commissioner. I was shocked, cleared my throat and sat up straight lol. I guess I was more surprised cuz I thought he’d tell his P.A. to call or something. I was respectful and tried to sound as calm and business-like as possible. He asked me to explain the types of buttons and how much they were. He was particularly interested in the Canada/Nigeria blend. After my explanation, he said he’ll keep in touch, but one of his colleagues would contact me soon. He also said he was going to keep the company information script in his files. I was so happy, I was like thank you sir and have a lovely day lol and he said you too :D. See how I’m all psyched about the call lol. It took a while, but true to his word about 2 days ago (Tuesday), a minister contacted me via email. She said she was requested to ask me to send a sample of a Nigerian button and a Nigeria/Canada Button. I replied that I would immediately. I got 2 samples, packaged them and headed for the post office. I emailed her when I got back home that I had sent them and thanked her. She got back to me and said she’d get back to me when she received the package at the embassy. I also sent it by XpressPost. I hope to keep you posted.

Based on the feedback from the survey, I had to be more explicit in my information, improve the color and size of the buttons in the slides, send reminders of independence days, increase shipping costs, change the free delivery criteria, improve delivery time, make the website more colorful and interactive. I basically had a lot to do. I spent 7 hours (8am to 3pm) straight in front of my laptop editing the website- general info, changing pictures, altering shipping prices, contacting Canada Post and a lot of stuff I can’t remember right now. I also had to improve and edit the company information script. It was then I realized why the Ambassador had questions about the buttons, I talked about everything except explain what the two (2) buttons I was blabbing about were! I added a concept subheading and explained what buttons were and the concepts behind mine. After I did all that, I had to back up all the information as I usually do. When I thought I could finally rest, it dawned on me that I had better send a new copy of the company information script to the ambassador. Since he was going to save it in his files, he might as well have the new proper information. So I drafted a new letter. I also used it as an opportunity to thank him or his call, and that I appreciated his interest. I also added that as he had said, a colleague of his did contact me. I contemplated calling his mobile, but I figured that might be too forward and it might seem like I’m trying to be familiar. I printed out the letter & new script, and headed for the post office again.

All that was yesterday! I spent today chilling, uploading pictures of new buttons, taking down new orders, packaging buttons, making calls to the customers and of course, blogging. I contemplated putting all this info on my blog, but one faithful blogger told me, in her own words, “Everything is bloggable”. I decided it could help encourage other young entrepreneurs as myself, but I blotted out names and financial figures for security purposes. That’s all (for now) folks! It’s the end of the month, so I’ve got to go do my accounts!

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  1. Mz.Dee
    February 20, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    congratz on the ambassador!
    get around to postin those fliers soon o!

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