(We’re excited to welcome Ryan Patrick as a contributing editor to The Daily Blur in 2013. He’s not only handsome but a mighty fine writer. You’re going to like him. A lot.)
You decided to throw a dinner party.
You picked a date. Cleaned the house. Set out the good dishes. Cooked the food. Uncorked the wine. By golly, you were ready to entertain!
But nobody showed up.
Because you forgot to send out invitations.
Silly, right? I mean, c’mon, that would NEVER happen.
I live about thirteen miles from Carbondale, Illinois – home of Southern Illinois University (Go Salukis!). Over the last three weeks, the residents of Carbondale have seen four local restaurants close their doors.
Four. Not one. Not two. Four. That’s quite a blow. Not just for the owners, their employees, and faithful customers, but for the community as well.
Mind you, these weren’t just any run of the mill restaurants. Three of the four had been staples of the community for more than twenty years.
Now, I hate to see one local business close, let alone four. But something has been gnawing at me ever since the news broke. I began to see a trend on social media that was slightly disturbing. Faithful followers were taking to Twitter and Facebook complaining about the lack of support the community had shown these esteemed eateries.
But, as I reviewed the list of restaurants, I came to a realization: Aside from an occasional postage-stamp-sized print ad in the college newspaper, I can’t recall ever seeing or hearing any recent advertising or marketing messages inviting me to visit these restaurants.
Yup. They forgot to send out invitations.
Keep in mind, this is a big college town. Half of the city’s population changes every two-to-four years. Old customers die or move away. New families move into town every month. Being in business for twenty-plus years means NOTHING to these newbies if they don’t know you at all. And they’ll never get to know you unless you introduce yourself.
Now, obviously, I don’t know the real story behind these closings. In some cases, a lack of customers may have been the least of their troubles. And I’m not saying that advertising is a magic pill that make all businesses thrive. Advertising only accelerates what is going to happen anyway. A solid marketing campaign will make a good business succeed that much faster. Consequently, good advertising for a bad company will quickly put it out of business.
But these weren’t necessarily bad businesses. People liked them. They had been around for a long time.
The community wasn’t consciously or maliciously turning its collective back on these restaurants. It simply forgot they were there.
Are you inviting people to your party?