Monday, December 1, 2008

Prospering in the Depression

Mike Rogers explains how he is growing his business through the use of barter:

Now, let me touch upon how we were able to take a terrible economic climate and turn it into another success story that allows us to gain new sponsors, retain them, and build up our fan base (the sponsors' customer base); as well as creating hard-core loyalty at the same time. In the west, free rock concerts happen in the summertime, all the time. This is unheard of in Japan, but we are doing it and aiming to make it a 10,000-person free rock festival by 2011.

In Japan, if a promoter wants to rent a club for a concert, it would usually cost at least $1,500 a night. The place we use should cost about $2,500. I get it for free. These clubs are seriously hurting for business. Recently they can't even make money on weekends. When people have to pay $25 dollars to get in to see a band, then they are not so willing to spend money on drinks (they’ll buy drinks at the convenience store and drink outside or sneak those drinks inside). The promoter gets to keep the door fee... The clubs are hurting because they have three or four staff and they cannot run a good business on, say, $6,000–8,000 dollars a month, when probably more than half that is rent and the rest is payroll.

I gave them a good proposition: "You give me the club for free, on a weeknight (when they are absolutely dead, or even closed), and I'll fill it. I will make the concert free entry. The club charges no more than $5.00 a drink and keeps that all as profit." The club accepted the deal on a one-time trial basis. I packed the place with 300 invitations only guests – from the Mixi community – and the club sold more than $3,000 in drinks... Not bad for a Monday night (actually more money than they've been making on Saturdays recently). People will gladly spend for two drinks, if they can get in for free. I got the bands to play for free also under a barter agreement: "You guys play for free and I'll play your CD at least once a day, everyday, when I promote the concert on the show." What up-and-coming Indie band wouldn't jump at the chance of getting free airplay on a radio show that averages 1 million listeners a day?

These concerts and events were a smash success. They've all been booked solid weeks before the events and they are on a weeknight when people have to go to work the next day. That is amazing! The listeners loved it and rushed to join our Mixi community. The Mixi community loved it because we gave all the tickets to their members exclusively. The club loves it and told me we can do it whenever we want to (we're about to do our 5th free concert on December 17th). In fact, several other clubs have found out about this and contacted me. They've offered their clubs for free too if I would do the same for them. The sponsors love it because it is a value-added part of their promotion too as we always announce the sponsors at the shows and tell people to "support the sponsors who support us and make these cool events possible."

Ed Hurst outlines the spiritual and temporal advantages of voluntary service:

Extending your services to those outside the community is an obvious means of expanding the community. Revealing Christ to the world means bearing His heart, and a servant's heart is His heart. This works to break dependency on the State, not least by showing there is a better way to handle human needs. The State raises all sorts of barriers for expertise, certification, licensing, insurance liabilities, etc. Ignore them when you can. Very often, simply refusing to charge a fee takes you outside regulatory controls. At the same time, you can always learn to accept gifts of gratitude, freely given. This is how the Kingdom does business, by allowing those you serve to contribute or not as they see fit, and allowing God to prosper you as He sees fit. No one will suggest this is easy, and it is most certainly radical, but the message to the world at large is unmistakable.

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