Before we speed dive into the lessons, it’s only right I first tell you the proposal story right? Right. So here it goes. Story story…
Once upon a lovely Sunday afternoon, 27th January, 2013 to be precise, I went to hang out with my darling. In my pocket was a pack of 13 cards neatly tucked into a glass case (and the beautiful ring of course). I had designed, printed and trimmed them myself the day before.
On one side of the first card was written ’12 reasons I’d stay forever…’ The other side had ‘…with my darling Iris. (She’s my radiant and tender flower so I call her Iris). On each of the 12 other cards, I had one reason on one side and a picture of ours that related to the reason on the other side.
As we drove around and visited various places including the amusement park, I gave her one card at a time. As night fell, I gave her the card with the 10th reason and suggested that we visit the cake and ice cream place where we had our first date. Our first date was on the 27th of August. I knew we we’re in January but it was also 27th so I thought it won’t be a bad time to relive the first time.
On our way to the place, I gave her the card with the 11th reason. So we got there, made our orders and sat down to enjoy the evening. Then I gave her the last card.
It read ‘You teach me to have faith; because (prayerfully) your answer to the question formed by the words in blue in my previous reasons will always be positive.’
So she arranged all the cards together and looked for the words in blue starting from the first card. The sentence formed by the words in blue was, will you marry me?
Did she say yes? Let’s first address the reason why we’re here then I’ll return to answer that. So, what lessons can you possibly learn from all the romance?
1. Offer only what you are good at
Too many people jump into a business they know little or nothing about. Their only reason for entering into it is because they know or heard of someone else who is very successful at it.
I could have chosen the popular ‘ring in the dessert after a fancy dinner’ style or ‘marry me on a large screen at the cinema’ approach but I’m not an outgoing person so asking her to dress up for a fancy dinner would definitely leave her smelling a fish all evening and I’m a very shy person so for the loud cinema approach, I would have spent the evening fighting my nervousness rather than making it a memorable one for her. However, I’m good with design and poetry so I stuck to what I can do right even in my sleep.
For something you have little or no skill/expertise, it will be very difficult to exhibit professionalism and it’s really not that hard for your target market to see that you really have no idea what you’re doing.
2. Know who you are offering it to
Skill or expertise is not enough for business. There has to be a demand for what you offer. For there to be demand, what you offer has to be beneficial to someone.
Yes I’m good with design and poetry but it wouldn’t have made sense to just design and write anything that made no meaning to my sweetheart. Iris lovessssss pictures (the beautiful lady can take hundreds in a day) so it just made sense that the design must involve pictures. Again I could have googled fallacious reasons and put them in (which she would immediately have found out) but I chose to tie the reasons to real events that had happened between us.
You need to research the market to find out if there are people who want your product/service and what it is that they are looking to benefit from it. Those benefits that your product/services offer is what you must constantly communicate in your marketing materials in order to be able to attract and emotionally connect with your target market.
3. Be different with your offerings
No one is going to leave one business to patronize another if they offer exactly the same thing the exact same way. You have to offer a unique experience either by way of a new product/service or a difference in an already existing one.
I’m not the first to design with pictures; maybe I’m not the first to write just 12 reasons; it’s probable I’m not the first to stuff cards in a glass box; I’m definitely not the first to propose at the venue of a first date. But when you add in the relevance of the design and message, the suspense created by giving the cards out one at a time over hours, the puzzle that had to be solved on the last card and secretly having it all photographed and on video, I’ve differentiated from what others have done before.
It’s called unique selling proposition (USP) but that’s unnecessary big English. All it means is, offer something no one else is offering the way you do. There’s almost nothing new under the sun anymore but you can still take the available and make it different. The fastest way about this is to find out what your competitors aren’t doing well enough and improve on it.
4. Offer an after service
Yes you’ve done your job and collected your money but it shouldn’t end there. You should provide complimentary after sales service for your clients. It could be free installation, free help with trouble shooting, 1 month free maintenance, etcetera.
Some weeks after the proposal, Iris returned the cards to me and asked if I could frame them in glass so she can hang them in her husband’s house when she’s married. I should have said the proposal service was over or I should have asked for what I get for doing this little extra stuff right? Wrong. I’m getting it done in expectation of nothing.
A complimentary after sale service might not bring instant cash but it fuels your bragging rights. The interesting thing is that you don’t even have to do any of the bragging; the client will be doing all of it. That will definitely get you more clients.
So, back to the question of ‘did she say yes?’ From the above image taken 2 years later, tell me what you think.