Monday before last, in the midst of a self-created media frenzy, I sat down for a 30-minute, long-form interview with Mike King, host of ESPN Richmond’s “On the Mic With Mike.” Mike’s a great guy, and he’s interviewed me several times in the past.
I was ready and waiting to answer questions about the Super Bowl, but then he threw me a curve ball.
“After you started Madison+Main, when did you realize you’re going to make it?” he asked. I gave an answer on his program, but just like many questions you get in life, this one stuck with me. How many times have you reflected on something and wished you had answered differently? We rarely get do-overs, so here’s mine:
Like any start-up, I was motivated when I started Madison+Main in 2005. I hustled and bustled. I took out a second mortgage and maxed out my credit cards. I shook hands and networked morning, noon, and night until I ran out of my first set of business cards in less than a month. I dropped by Wythken Printing and placed another order for 500. (Ric and his team are absolutely wonderful to work with, by the way.)
I talked about Madison+Main with anyone who would listen. I hit every networking meeting I could find. I took every card and added them to an email database. I called, texted, and emailed everyone I could think of. I sent out press releases to the Richmond Times-Dispatch and every reporter I could get contact info for. I used new online platforms like LinkedIn (2003), Facebook (2004), and Twitter (2005) from dawn until dusk.
At a Richmond Chamber event, I met a rather well-established business person, whose family owned a legendary grocery store chain. I told him where I worked and he said, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard good things about Madison+Main.”
That was the moment.
When you start a business, you have to be a relentless, consistent 24/7 marketer in order to create AWARENESS for your company, not just yourself. The key was leveraging my personal brand into awareness for the company.
In early 2006, my total contacts (phone, email, and online) reached over 10,000 people. I had read that the average person will meet 10,000 people in a lifetime. My goal was to get 10,000 people to know the name Madison+Main in my first year of business. I did it in five months.
Thanks, Mike, for the question and the trip down memory lane.