This entry is mostly in response to what Jay Rivers, the guitar god, said in a comment on my Grassroots fund-raising entry.
Free advertising in exchange for free business cards
Yes, I do think of prospective sponsors as "trading partners" because they are trading partners. I need what they offer, just as they need what I offer. If they don't realize they need what I offer, then fine. Someone else does. Money, goods, labor, and services are all the same thing.
Remember how I said I would go about finding a printer if I intended to buy some business cards? I said "I'd probably go to the Columbus Metropolitan page on the Yahoo Directory and pick the first company I see, unless their web site sucks." Well, I just did that. And guess what. This site blows ass! Seriously, it is totally useless. Why would anyone even consider choosing this printing company? Someone please tell me.
Jay, I know you have put a lot of effort into helping me spread the word about Aimless. And by helping me spread the word, you are essentially doing exactly what I'm offering to do for printing companies and other prospective sponsors. The difference is that I understand the value of your voluntary contributions, and I will voluntarily compensate you whenever I am able.
Perhaps I am already "compensating" you by pointing out your assets, mentioning your web site, and linking to it, just like you're doing for me. I think you have drawn more attention to Aimless than I have drawn to docrivs.com, but there's no doubt that you and I are making a trade here that would involve a cash transaction in other circumstances. Time is money; it really is. You and I have each spent a lot of time the last several days creating new opportunities for each other to make money. You are investing in me while I am investing in you. Hopefully we'll both make our investments pay off. And we probably will because we're making smart investments.
Offering to add pizza to a restaurant's menu one night a week
Here are some reasons why the pizza thing is a good idea for both me and the restaurant:
1) Even if I do take away some of the restaurant's regular business (like if a regular Monday-nighter buys my pizza instead of his usual cheeseburger), the restaurant will still get their share because I'll pay them a percentage of my sales.
Let's float a number like 25% for now. If I sell a pizza for $8 to the regular cheeseburger man, the restaurant will make $2 just for letting me sell it. That's about the same amount they'd make on the sale of a cheeseburger (if not more). They're not losing anything because I don't create any extra expenses and they don't have to pay me an hourly wage. Plus the restaurant still gets all the revenue from apps, side orders, beverages, desserts, and other stuff people may order with their pizza. So the restaurant won't be losing anything by accepting my offer.
2) I will attract new customers to the restaurant. Normally it costs a lot of money to attract new customers because the people you're trying to attract already have a favorite (or regular) restaurant. "They" say it takes 7 times more effort to attract new customers than it takes to attract existing customers. And every time I manage to attract a new customer to my "host" restaurant, I'll be giving the restaurant a free opportunity to provide that new customer a dining experience that will convert him or her into a lifetime customer. I may even end up doing that part for them, too. That's worth a lot more money than you can imagine, and I'll be the one paying for it.
I could go on and on about how a restaurant most certainly would benefit by agreeing to my proposal, but I'll save it for a future entry. In reality, I'm the one who has a lot to lose by setting up such an arrangement, and I've already thought of some ways I'll protect myself.
First of all, I'll sell vouchers/gift certificates to interested parties, which will ultimately provide a reasonably clear picture of how much new business I'm generating for the restaurant. Whenever a customer pays for their pizza with a voucher, the restaurant's 25% take will be either 5% or 0% because my voucher is proof that I've generated new revenue for the restaurant. The "Aimless Pizza" customer isn't just going to buy a pizza; they're also going to buy a coke, a beer, chicken wings, etc. The restaurant gets 25% of my sales when I take their customers because that is fair. But I won't agree to let them take 25% and the new revenue I busted my ass to generate for them.
If they can't handle that, I walk. It's that simple. I play fair. I can find someone else to work with; they can't.
(Notice I didn't say "work for." I don't work for anyone anymore; we work together.)