Marketing with one hand tied behind your back

Whether you work for a large corporate marketing department, run a small business or work for a city that depends on tourism dollars, you often have to work with some challenge that makes you feel like you have one hand tied behind your back.

Marketing challenges

Corporate budget cuts—In a recession, marketing departments are often hit first and hit hard. Both layoffs and shrinking budgets can stress already overstressed workers. How do you continue to market well to bring in more business?

Small business vulnerabilities—Simple road construction can put a small business out of business. Closing a bridge or closing a road for 3 weeks, 3 months or more can have a devastating impact. How do you convince customers to make the extra effort to get to you?

City disasters—Nashville, Tennessee is a recent example of how quickly a city can be at risk. Nashville depends on tourism dollars. Opryland Hotel alone brings in 25 % of the city’s convention business and 20% of its hotel tax revenue, and it will be closed for 4 to 5 months. How do you keep business travelers and tourists coming?

What’s the solution?

AT&T tells you to “Rethink.” KFC wants you to “Unthink.” I’m telling you to think –think ahead.

Really, bad economic turns, construction detours and natural disasters shouldn’t be a surprise to any organization. Stuff happens, right? It’s our job to be prepared.

Make these actions regular practice and you’ll be ready for (almost) anything.

1. Nurture creativity.

  • Encourage your creative professionals to present ideas that don’t always match your preferred style.
  • Be willing to take creative risks. Go with some of those ideas that are out of your comfort zone.
  • Give all of your employees a channel to contribute their own ideas to make your company better (like Dell’s EmployeeStorm).

Creative employees can solve almost any problem, with or without a budget. Encourage participation and collaboration so employees feel like they can be important parts of a solution when a problem arises.

2. Build relationships.

When people love you they want to help when you’re in trouble. But you can’t start building all your relationships when you get in trouble.

This is particularly important for small businesses. If you give great service and build a loyal customer base, you will have half the battle won if a crisis hits.

Knowing your customers is key. If a bridge near the main access route to your store or restaurant is out, you will have loyal customers still willing to come in. It’s up to you to make it easy for them and reward them for their effort. If you don’t know your customers, how will you do this?

3. Do your homework.

  • Stay on top of (or ahead of) marketing trends.
  • Know what the best way is to reach your customers.
  • Understand different types of marketing and how to use them.
  • Test, test, test. Find out what doesn’t work and then focus your energy on what does.
  • Tap experts to learn what you don’t know how to do.

Obviously, You can’t do only these three things to solve all your sales and marketing problems. But, you do need to do these three things to have your best chance at success.

If you start taking these steps when you are already in crisis, not only will you have a much tougher time, but you may not make it through.

So, what are you waiting for? If you don’t prepare and think ahead, you might as well tie your own hand behind your back.


Speaking of Nashville, if you’d like to help, go to Nashvillest and scroll down to the fantastic list of the many ways you can help. Thank you.


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