Watching people react to a storm is telling. In fact, it’s fun envisioning strategic marketing approaches the people you witness might take running a small business.
Driving styles provide some interesting strategic marketing insights
I live in the country. Pickup trucks can be seen in almost every driveway (or lawn). With the mud and snow around here, four-wheel-drive is almost a must. So, when a storm hits, it doesn’t stop the locals from hitting the roads. Most don’t have the budget (or insurance) for collision repairs, so they adjust their speed to handle conditions. Actually, I’ve found time doesn’t seem to concern most rural folk. Admittedly, it took me by surprise at first . . . ‘yyyyep, I can do that’ . . . ‘When?’ . . . ‘oh, I’ll be over there sometime’ . . . ‘This week?’ . . . ‘probably so . . .’. You get used to it. Anyway, it’s probably no surprise the Podunk residents plod along in bad weather, figuring they’ll get to their destination eventually. Not a bad strategy for business success if you’re a patient sort.
The pickups don’t worry me – it’s the SUVs. Why is it that those who drive SUVs (usually ‘city folk’ as they like to say in the sticks) think they can turn, stop and get traction on ice traveling 60 mph? These pilots tailgate, pass on bends and can usually be seen stuck in a ditch ‘up the road a bit.’ Reminds me of the dot com boon to bust and today, spammers. Their strategic thinking is probably along the lines of, ‘Trampling and conning on my way up is the fastest way to ensure I’m not coming down.’ Right. Used to be direct mail campaigns that netted a 1% – 3% conversation rate were deemed wildly successful. I imagine the majority of bandwagon ‘social media’ hawkers don’t see number near there. Small business can’t afford a shotgun approach (time is your most precious asset) – nor the bad will it creates with the other 99%.
You see marketing concepts watching people shovel
Shovelers amuse me. Some take pride in brooming every speck of snow or plowing an inch or two of accumulation. The next day they land on their bum or are spinning wheels up an impassable driveway after daytime sun has melted snow to water and nighttime cold provided a slick, smooth layer of ice. Sometimes, you can spend too much time on appearances while disregarding function or interest. No matter what you say, show or invent, if it doesn’t do what people need – or pitches a product or service to an audience that isn’t buying, you’ll fail. That’s not to say appearance and message doesn’t matter. It’s critical with good strategic marketing. What it does mean, though, is no amount of elegant fluff is going to help you if you’ve created a business that doesn’t help people get where they want to go.
Of course, there are always those who wait for nature to take its course. They spend extra daily hours climbing across deep snow they didn’t shovel, digging their car out of the driveway traps, drying out clothes soaked from treks across the yard and cursing the weather for their troubles. These guys wonder why providence didn’t come knocking on their small business door. It’s the build it and they will come mentality. There’s more competition for limited time and money today than ever before. If you don’t make outreach a priority, it’ll be tough creating a viable small business.
Delegators get small business success – or not
Delegators are probably the biggest crowd. Hiring quality providers can mean the difference between delight and frustration. Often, people don’t notice so much when someone provides outstanding service, but curse the soul (that they figured was a find for the fee) who shows up late or not at all, stacks snow along access paths and comes to clear an inch to grab that quick buck. Hiring the wrong people will make you miserable – no matter how cheap the fees (although high-priced doesn’t necessarily mean good). Outsourcing to high integrity people aligned with your priorities can make your day. Smart small business owners understand how much more effective they can be when given time to handle the tasks they do best. Finding a great support team to help run and represent your company can be one of the most powerful strategic marketing decisions you make as a small business owner.
Honestly, it took me time to learn how to delegate effectively (this can be a challenge for entrepreneurs, who tend to be Type As). Identifying the right people and engaging them to help support company activities – and coffers – was not only liberating but also improved my quality of life (on so many levels).
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10 responses to “Storms provide insight into strategic marketing bents”
Love the post. Very good analogy! I live in the “sticks” as well so I really understand where you are coming from.
It’s too funny how perspectives change when you go rural, isn’t it, Cheryl? I’m convinced no matter what happens relative to disasters, attacks or other unimaginable terrors, the country folk will survive. They take care of each other, barter, stay pretty self sufficient and understand the importance of a strong community. Of course, some of the stuff you witness is laughable, but that adds spice to life too.
Love the analogy. We live in western NY in a small suburb and prefer to take the back roads because there are less SUV city folk on them racing around. His truck, and my car both have 4WD but we respect the snow and ice. We keep extra sweatshirt, hat and gloves in our car just in case we ever get stuck. Sometimes we even travel with kitty litter in the back if it is really bad – 1. it helps weigh down the back end of the car/truck and 2. It gives pretty good traction should you ever get stuck!
Guess I should have figured you were in the Buffalo area with the Bills regalia, Diane :-). Good strategy taking the back roads – I’ll have to keep this in mind. I’ve added a good shovel to my car winter kit after the last storm we had. Should have thought of a change of clothes (after being knee deep digging out).
I like your analogies. Thank you for stopping by and reminding about cc skiing.
Thank you for stopping by here too, Debbie.
As always, I appreciate your sense of humor and I can see all the people you describe in this post. I am one of those city slickers who is terrified to drive in the snow so I just stay home! As for delegating, the biggest lesson I had to learn as an entrepreneur was how to delegate effectively – providing enough information so someone could do their job well. I assumed, wrongly, that everyone had the same work ethic as me and would ask questions or figure out what to do. Not true! I needed to be much more specific in what I asked, expected and how I described the task to be done. I was too hands off and it didn’t work well with the contractor sales people I was using.
Too funny, Minette. I can so relate to hiring challenges. My first few employees were busts. I figured I’d hire a consultant to ensure I did it right the next time (for about $1K – this was close to a couple of decades ago). Learned a hard lesson after that one. No complaints about the consultant – she did her job and worked hard on all aspects to secure what she saw as a right fit. The problem was, this gal came from a corporate environment and had no clue on how to operate independently. When I reviewed her hours (she was a W-2 employee but was in the office often when I was not and finally asked her to start logging how she was spending her time so I could review it) and saw 20 hours of time spent sending a fax (she decided I needed a new fax page design), I decided it was time for her to go. I discovered there’s a big difference between work experience cited and the common sense required for supporting a small business. I haven’t looked toward the corporate sector (nor necessarily college degrees) for hires since. I’ll take street smarts and worth ethic over resumes any day.
This brought a smile to my face, stopping by from the UBC. I live in an urban area in upstate New York but the country isn’t too far away. Many of my co workers live in rural areas. Some of my Linked In contacts are also marketing people and I posted this on my LinkedIn page – I think they will enjoy reading this post.
Thanks so much for the read, comment and shares, Alana. Great to meet another fellow UBC participant. I’m in Upstate New York too (depending a bit on how you define it – seems it’s weird Western NY is culled into this category by most – but that’s where we are). I’m a big fan of Linked In and certainly appreciate your spreading the word there.