The Business Owner: Pete Walter, Deal With The Media
The entrepreneur talks about the importance of realism and why sometimes you have to go against instinct
Company: Deal With The Media
Founders: Pete Walter
Proposition: The best support and training for small businesses, start-ups and causes to flawlessly engage with the media.
Size: 1 full time plus associates
How is your business different from what’s already out there?
There are a few sites which teach people how to get media attention. But none of them teach the tricks of the trade to become a great media performer too. It’s great media performers that get asked to comment or appear on the media time and again, unlocking a torrent of free advertising for their brands.
How did you finance your business?
I self-financed completely. I collaborated with some top media trainers on my training products, but we worked together on a future profit share basis. I have a media training agency (first take) which has allowed me to keep afloat.
What is the most important thing to keep track of in business and why?
Realism. I’ve read that millennials, like me, are as a rule hugely over-ambitious and optimistic about their prospects in business. I definitely fell into that trap when I started, and still find myself being too ambitious about targets and expect things will take days when they end up taking weeks or months to complete.
What is the biggest day-to-day challenge you face?
As a naturally introverted person I don’t enjoy selling. So overcoming the instinct to not pick up the phone is a daily struggle. But it’s like going to the gym. Getting off your backside in the first place is by far the hardest bit.
What marketing techniques do you use to attract new customers?
I used Facebook ads a lot at first. But then I had a real ‘d’oh!’ moment and realised I should be using media outreach as much as possible, to prove that I walk the walk as well as talk the talk. So now alongside a much smaller amount of advertising I successfully create stories around my business and pitch journalists to write about them, I appear as a guest on podcasts, I write as an expert contributor for high traffic blogs, and I’m about to start my own podcast too.
Do you think it’s important for small businesses to export, any tips?
If you’ve got a product that works for an international audience then you’d be stupid not to try. Especially now we live in a digitally connected world it’s much easier to get good feedback from other territories on the likelihood that your product will succeed.
What’s the business app you couldn’t do without?
It’s not an app – but I’ve used google consumer surveys to test quite a lot of aspects of my business. It’s been very useful.
Describe your company’s culture in three words:
Friendly, dedicated, fair.
What would you like the government to do for small business?
Making it less expensive to hire your first employees would help, as would making sure that big business pay their fair share of tax so we can all compete in a fair market.
Who’s your biggest small and medium enterprise hero?
Brian Eastman – founder of Carnival Film and TV. He grew the business from scratch in the 80s to the point where it now produces huge shows like Downtown Abbey
Where do you want the business to be in three years?
10,000 paying customers is the dream.
What’s your top tip for keeping it lean and making profit?
Don’t let the boring stuff get brushed under the carpet (anyone can do any unappealing task for 15 minutes) and make sure you broadcast your message as well as narrowcast.