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It was freezing, ****ing freezing (January 2012). Demoralising. Miles out my comfort zone.

Me and my buddy Craig had an “amazing” idea over 4 years ago. We were going to sell advertising space on an A4 leaflet. This leaflet would:

  • Go out to 10,000 homes in radius of the businesses we were speaking to. Potential customers could cut out a coupon and present it to the business.
  • Have a custom QR Code that linked to a section of a website I designed, dedicated to the area where all the businesses were located. They would have their own mobile responsive landing page that collected the customer data for list building (bearing in mind this was 4 years ago, so very up to date stuff). Meaning the old school could cut out the coupon, but the more tech savvy could use the QR Code.
  • I’d also rank said website to be number one on Google for the area we were targeting.

So I went to Royal Mail… far too expensive. One of my contacts put me in touch with a company that specialised in this sort of thing. I met with them and they could do it for half what Royal Mail were charging. Not only was it half, it included the printing also!

We picked one of the most famous streets in Glasgow, awash with businesses, popular with students and the middle class. It was searched for over 20,000 times a month on Google, so good for ranking. The street was also over half a mile long, so would take some time walking the full length, stopping at virtually every business on the way down on both sides of the road to ask if they were interested.

I designed an example landing page of what the business would get, loaded it up on my phone and we hit the street!

It took us over 3 hours. Going into each shop, asking to speak to the owner / manager, showing them the product and explaining it to them in detail. That we were local business owners and that this was going to reach tens of thousands of people.

…I thought it was a no-brainer

We spoke to only one business OWNER the whole time.


(admittedly, he said he was very interested)

…I guessed business owners weren’t that involved in the direct running of high end shops.

Every manager we spoke to was able to give us the details of the owner in some shape or form. If I remember right we got around 18 personal email addresses.

Next, we borrowed an office to record a personalised video for each of those emails. 18 videos, all explaining that we were in their shop that day, who I spoke to, what the product was and how much exposure / reach they would get.

To summarise:

  • At least 2 meetings with me and Craig discussing and planning the idea.
  • Designed a mock-up leaflet.
  • Designed the website with a separate mock up mobile landing page and QR Code.
  • Had a meeting with the leaflet distributer / printer.
  • Spent over 3 hours, not including travel, to walk the length of the half mile street, in a typical Scottish January.
  • Borrowed an office to film 18 different videos, edit them and upload them to YouTube and then send it out to those 18 email addresses.

Can you tell how many sign ups we had?

One… and that was a “possibly interested”

If I continued to hope and dream about starting my own business (took me 6 years of dreaming before I pulled the trigger)…

If I listened to my boss at the time who told me to “start looking at climbing the ladder within the company and stop all this ‘going to run my own business’ carry on”…

If I listened to well-meaning friends that told me quitting my well paid job in a recession was a bad idea…

If I just read books on how to run my business instead of making hilarious **** ups like the story above…

I wouldn’t have taken on Rolls Royce / Aston Martin as a client this week

I’ve worked with many big companies and projects on my business journey but none of them would’ve happened if I didn’t accept that we succeed through trial and error, not hopes and dreams. It’s important to hope and dream, but it’s worthless if you don’t step into the arena, willing to try and fail.

“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life…and that’s why I succeed” – Michael Jordan



Copywriting, Internet Marketing and Coaching

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