A bit of straight talking, if you please

I’m a great proponent of more straight-talking in business so, in the spirit of practising what I preach, can I ask your comments on something? And this is aimed primarily, though not exclusively, at smaller businesses.

Eighteen months ago, I launched in BusinessTime in Essex, The Supply Line Directory. It was introduced with the idea of ensuring even the smallest business with the most modest marketing budget could afford to advertise and have a presence in the magazine. For £150 a year or £15 a month if paying monthly made it easier, you could have your company details and a 30-word description of what you do included under a category heading of your choosing.

I had a vision of it becoming ‘the’ Essex business directory, stretching over many pages, as smaller businesses fell over themselves to be part of the adventure and mix with the big boys at a fairly nominal cost.

Alas, I was to be disappointed. Despite my best efforts to promote the directory – and despite the magazine generally going from strength to strength – take-up remained stubbornly lukewarm. In fact, I lie. Take-up remained decidedly cold!

I kept asking myself with growing frustration, why, Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms (if I’ve offended anyone by omitting their chosen gender, sorry) Small Business with the Modest Marketing Budget, do you not see the value of placing yourself in front of 20,000 potential customers for just £15 a month. As my frustration grew, I took to contacting people I knew were paying four times that a month to belong to a networking group where they were putting themselves in front of 25 potential customers, but still my message fell on stony ground.

Therefore, the autumn issue will be The Supply Line Directory’s swansong. It will go to the great ‘tried that but didn’t work’ graveyard in the sky.

So, my question to all you small business owners out there is this: what can I do to ensure BusinessTime in Essex is all-inclusive and not just the domain of the medium and bigger boys and girls? What would float your boat and what would you be prepared to pay for it?

It’s a serious and sincere question (but please bear in mind the magazine does have to earn me, a small business at that, a modest living so I can’t offer pages and pages of free coverage).

Do drop me a line with any thoughts: peter@pjrcomms.co.uk