Recession Survival Wisdom

November 12, 2008 — 1,127 views  
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To me the Ultimate Marketing Wisdom for surviving a recession, or any other business setback, is simply this...just don't quit! Over the more than 35 years that I've been working in the marketing trade I've noted that persistence is the sole characteristic that typifies all successful businesses and individuals. Those who survive - whether they be organizations or individuals - unfortunately aren't always defined by their worthiness, talent, devotion to others, intelligence or beauty. Some say survival depends on luck, but that's merely creating a causal factor after the fact. Luck, unlike persistence, is not a choice. The key to surviving is to choose to persevere. I believe that there are keys to persistence, beyond merely not giving up, though an unwillingness to call it quits, whether it's due to faith, will power or just plain stubbornness...or a bit of all...can't be discounted. I have a friend who emphasizes that one of the keys to survival is learning to thrive in your circumstance, whatever those circumstances may be. Folks who read the Bible will be familiar with the scripture that tells us to..."in all things be grateful and give glory to God." Those who take comfort earthly wisdom may choose to simply "...direct your feet to the sunny side of the street." All well and good, you say, but the Gospel According to Pollyanna wears thin when I'm sitting in my office staring at a silent phone, my e-mail in-box is empty, and the postman brings only bills and promotional material from competitors. In other words, what does this persistence look like? At this point I must confess that I'm a charter member of the Chicken Little Society, and like all CLS members it's all too easy for me to slip into a damp, dark and lonely place when my life doesn't fit my fantasies. So... Rule Number One: Separate Fantasy From Reality. In other words, take stock of yourself, or your business. If you're a small business person, by which I mean that you rank somewhere near the bottom of the Fortune Five Hundred Thousand, you and your business are probably inseparable. Stock-taking is really a basic and potentially and excruciatingly painful process of determining at what you're really good at doing, and (even more important) what you're less successful at doing. Two things are essential, brutal honesty and a willingness to hear the truth. Having an objective spouse or friend who you respect (or fear) too much to ignore is useful in this process. Big Business, by which I mean huge, impersonal enterprises that thrive on euphemism call this focusing on "core skills." Management Gurus publish books reviving this principle every few years. Buy one if you like, or you can save your money and ask someone who cares about you enough to tell you the truth. Okay, so you've asked and been told what you're good at. Hopefully, it wasn't too painful, but if it was you can rejoice that - if you take the wisdom to heart - you don't have to go through this process again. Rule Number Two: Put Your Heart and Soul Into What You Do Best. Sounds like a noble purpose doesn't it but - in practice - it's usually easier said than done. It's all fine if you're calling is something you've always aspired to doing, if it's widely appreciated, and (best of all) if others will envy you for your activities. Unfortunately, most of us are called to more or less mundane tasks rarely celebrated in inspirational books. I doubt that the Wall Street Journal list of Best Sellers will feature, "The Joy of Sewer Maintenance" in my lifetime. So, how does one find the passion in doing something less fantastic than entertaining a stadium packed with rabid fans? Personally, I take pleasure in developing my skills, such as improving my command of Adobe Illustrator; adding to my knowledge base about things like Search Engine Optimization and stretching my brain, lately it's been learning Spanish. Since the region I live in is about 28% Hispanic, the latter is not purely academic. Rule Number Three: Be Grateful. I readily admit this is the hardest of the three rules for me to practice. Like all Founding members of the Chicken Little Society I can easily fall into believing that things either are getting worse, or soon will go south. Gratitude, on the other hand, takes a sincere appreciation of things the way they are. Like the other two rules, I believe that this rule is a choice. I envy people born with a "sunny disposition." Unfortunately for me my DNA is overcast so I have to discipline myself to focus on positive things. How to do this? I can tell you from experience that ungratefulness is more than just a bad habit - it's an addiction. Like all addictions you fight it daily or hourly. If you believe in God, pray. If you don't, meditate. The bottom line is: if you're willing to honestly look around you will find things - lots of things - to be thankful for...even in a recession.

Marketing Wisdom