Lessons for Small Business Owners from MLB’s Historic Baltimore Orioles/Chicago White Sox Game

orioles-empty-stadium-hed-2015Yesterday, in the wake of the riots in Baltimore, Major League Baseball made history – playing the first-ever baseball game without a crowd. Official attendance: 0. Was this the right decision to show support to Baltimore? We’re not so sure, but we’ll leave that discussion to the sociologists and pundits.

Sports Illustrated’s Emma Span tweeted that this answered the age-old question – If a tree falls in the forest, but no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? No fans at the game, nine innings played, Orioles win. Question answered: Yes.

For small business owners, however, it’s not quite that simple. What can small business owners learn from this? NOTHING. You are not Major League Baseball. Not yet anyway. Whether you’re just starting out or an established business, if you want to make history, you need fans.

The fact is, if you launch the most awesome new product ever, open your doors on the hottest new spot in town, or begin to offer the most empowering service around, but no one’s around to know it, can you really be awesome, hot, or empowering? No. Not hardly. You need to make a sound. A loud one. You need to tell your existing customers, your neighbors, and your friends. And you need to shout it from the rooftops to those who don’t yet know you.

To draw on a more modern baseball-oriented quip, “If you build it, they will come.” Again, no. No they won’t. Much as we’d love famous ballplayers to simply come out of the cornfields to draw attention to our businesses, this isn’t Iowa. Would-be customers need to know (and be reminded again and again) that you exist and they need a compelling reason to come and come back for more.

So invest in marketing. Communicate to your would-be customers where they are and where they’re seeking information about your business. Drive customers to the retailers that carry your products. Engage the media to tell your story and give you additional credibility. Offer discounts or incentives. Let would-be customers try you out and experience your value.

Bottom line: While your product, service, or store might be fabulous, if would-be customers don’t know you exist, you won’t exist for long.

Want to learn more about how to build a customer-centric marketing program for your business?  Register for one of our upcoming workshops just for small business owners!