Pounding the pavement

When I told a friend what I was planning to do with Grow Camas (which I’m now calling either “Grow” or “Grow Camas Washougal”, to be more explicit and inclusive), his first observation was “you’ll have to be pounding the pavement.” That stuck with me because, 1) it’s a turn of phrase I haven’t heard for a while, and 2) most everything I’ve done HASN’T involved pounding the pavement.

Pounding the pavement doesn’t scale. Pounding the pavement is hard. And finite. And, well, pounding… which is rarely good. Coming from a world of digital customer acquisition—install my app, visit my website, etc.—this manual way of finding customers seems anachronistic and tiresome. And it is.

Grow is not a global concern. We’re not trying to capture the US market. Grow isn’t a regional player, or trying to be the biggest agency in Washington. Even the “local market”, meaning Portland is too broad. We’re hyper focused, so our outreach methodology matches this focus. Pounding the pavement makes sense.

Unfortunately, pounding the pavement sucks.

Like most people, I’d rather build a business based on referrals. Referrals reduce risk, and therefore the defensiveness of the new client; the recommendation makes them more comfortable and open to communication. We never want to “sell”, we want to “solve”, and before we can solve, we need to understand. Wary people often don’t share, even with those trying to help them. Referrals make this whole process so much easier.

But referrals don’t come from thin air. They’re earned by doing good work and being responsive and doing what you promise. Referrals are the product of a well run business. You don’t have them on Day 1.

So, pounding the pavement. Literally going door-to-door. Meet and greet. Mixers and networking. Introduce, smile, shake hands. Give business card. Follow up. Get those first couple projects upon which momentum builds. Go from zero to one. It’s a slog, but there’s no other way.

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