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Blue Balls, Anecdotes, and the Meaning of Most

Rachel runs a corporate training company.

She’s just hired me to help her with her marketing and to prepare her online presence to broaden her geographical reach. She wants to work for people outside her immediate region – and why not? Negotiation and Leadership (her areas of expertise) travel extremely well.

She’s aspiring to take her business “semi-local”, as we’ll call it.

So we’ve got it all down. I’m showing her the strategic plan and the rollout schedule, and she’s getting excited. Then, she lays down the question I hate hearing even more than when my wife asks if she looks “fat in this?”

“So what can I expect from all this? How much more business should I expect and how long will it take before I see it?”

*Blank*

Erm… Is “Idaknow” a good “experty-consultanty” response?

Cause that’s sure what I feel like saying.

The Truth Is, I Have No Idea What to Tell Her

Sure, I have previous projects that I can tap into, and Danny and I compare notes all the time.

That, and the whole yadda-yadda about how there are many variables in marketing, etc.. ought to make me sound like I know what I’m talking about.

But darn, I’d love to be able to pull out something like this:

60% of businesses with between one to five employees who hired a coach to help them go semi-local report an increase in revenues from all sources and on average achieved a ROI within the first 3 months (19 times out of 20).

But I can’t do that.

Because no such data exists.

We only hear stories…

And unfortunately for the most part, the stories we hear about taking your business online are just that: stories. Unconfirmed, rounded off, aggrandized to create an impression (a.k.a. “bragging”), or just innocently inaccurate because no measures were even taken.

It’s not anybody’s fault – people can’t describe in exact terms what has never been measured. Here’s an example. If you were to ask 10 people to define how many “most” represent in this phrase: “most of the twenty balls were blue and the rest were red”, you’d actually get a wide range of answers. For some people, “most” is anything even a hair over 50%. For others it’s more like 90%.

That’s the problem with anecdotal accounts (stories). It’s like describing “most”. My most ain’t necessarily your most. The mostest of the most is still most and the leastest of the most is still most… (ok, I’ll stop now).

But there is one way to remove all doubt right? Just count the blue balls.

Well, folks, it’s time to count the blue balls.

(quit smiling – this is serious stuff…) 😉

I’d love to hear about your experiences going semi-local. Was it planned, or did you just “stumble in”, so to speak? Was it worth it. Share in the comments!

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