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Thanksgiving 2016

By Dr. Burt Smith November 22nd, 2016

Thanks for welcoming me into your inbox every week!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Election day is this week and by the time you read this we may have a new president. Extremely important and there is a lot riding on the outcome.

But election day isn’t the most important thing we should be talking about this week.

You and I have the opportunity to vote for whoever we want and disagree with one another all day long if we choose to. We can publish our opinions or shout them from the rooftops if we want to. And we can do that because we have the FREEDOM to do so.

Friday, November 11th is Veteran’s day. Let’s be sure we don’t take that freedom for granted, and let’s be sure we don’t take for granted those who made it so.

Veterans, THANK YOU!

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What a crazy, uncertain time we live in.

I realize that just about any generation could say that, but you’ve gotta admit, things are pretty nuts right now and without getting even the least bit political here, we’re venturing into some uncharted waters this election year. Uncertainty always plays havoc with the stock market and the economy in general, so don’t be surprised if we have some rough waters in the near future. Possibly globally, from what I’m hearing. 

My source on this is “they,” by the way. As in, “They say…” 

Seriously, though…

A downturn usually results in downsizing. That is never something any decent leadership team looks forward to doing, though,granted, it is sometimes a necessity.

If you find yourself using the term “downsize” as part of your strategic vocabulary in the next few months, just keep a couple of things in mind. 

First, though downsizing looks good on paper, downsizing often results in a workforce with very low morale which  in turn results in a workforce that delivers lousy customer service. The net result of that can be lost revenues.

Second, don’t forget that what you are after with your ideal customers is a lifelong relationship. So if lousy customer service results in the loss of a customer, you’re also potentially losing a whole lot more in terms of the lifetime value of that customer. 

Hasty downsizing can be like cutting off your arm to cure a hangnail. Its “savings,” may not always save you what you think they will. 

In the words of Tom Peters, you can’t shrink your way to greatness! 

 

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Do I think we’re headed for an economic downturn?

Yes. Absolutely. Definitely.

Why do I say that?

And for that matter, why would I say such a thing when it’s usually my goal to offer you mostly positive stuff when you visit here?

I say yes, we absolutely, definitely are headed for an economic downturn. And it could be rough.

I say that with such confidence because that’s what economies do. They go through periods of prosperity, recession, depression, and recovery. 

You can take that to the bank, friends. 

When can we expect the next downturn? How bad will it be? How long will it last? 

Beats me. Knowing how economies work and what to expect is one thing. Knowing all the particulars and specifics is something else. And I’ll also say, I’ve read the works of many authors and trend spotters over the years to it’s pretty clear that nobody knows nothin’ for sure when it comes to timing predictions in the economy. 

You may not be able to time predictions exactly, but knowing that what goes up also comes down can help you make better decisions in terms of planning ahead. Store up a little something for the winter, in other words.

That way, you don’t have to worry so much about the economy, you can focus on your economy.

Our old friend SWOT the PEST may be of use to you in that regard. 

It’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose yours.” – Harry S. Truman

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We enjoy so much abundant choice when it comes to all the affordable things that are so readily available to us in the free market. I often find myself feeling a bit guilty because all that abundant choice is indeed so affordably, readily available that I forget that it happens because at some point, an entrepreneur had the guts to take a risk and put in all the hard work into giving me the value I take for granted.

How about we all make a point of at least acknowledging, if not outright, deliberately thanking, the entrepreneurs for doing what they do?

And if you’re an entrepreneur reading this, thanks! 

The risk of losing their house, prized possessions, and life savings is a risk that many backyard inventors are ready to take in order to launch a fledgling enterprise. These people with grit and gumption, willing to wander into uncharted territory just like the pioneers of old. In starting a new business, they choose excitement over the security of a regular paycheck. It’s not enough that they invest all their money in the project. They must also work long hours and invest most of their time.” – Peter Lynch, Learn to Earn

 

 

A while back a little crisis erupted when a local fuel vendor announced that a few batches of its gasoline had too high an ethanol content. High enough to potentially cause engine damage. Several Oklahoma City metro convenience store locations were affected, and they of course had to notify the public of the unfortunate news.

Fortunately for OnCue and its customers, the recall didn’t affect them. Or, more accurately, as a loyal On-Cue customer, I should say it didn’t affect us. OnCue made a point of making sure their customers knew it, too, by placing signs that prominently shared that important message on the front doors of its Oklahoma City locations.

If your value offers a competitive advantage, even if it’s a short-term advantage, showcase it. Let the world know about it.  If you’ve got it, flaunt it, baby!

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If there is an opportunity to get in front of an audience, you can bet marketers will find it. The picture to the left illustrates one such example.

The good folks at Coca Cola determined that those concrete poles that serve as safety/security barriers to the entrance to such places as Wal-Mart were not being used to their full potential. So they came up with a cardboard overlay that featured their latest promotion. Hard to miss as you walk through the main entrance, and I offer them a tip of my marketing hat for their creativity.

A while back we talked about how Amazon did something similar.

A good idea is to look for “underutlized real estate” where you might be able to get your message out there. The more unique, and the more clever, the better.

Doing business without advertising is like winking in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does.” – Unknown

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I’ll get right to two important points:

1 – Super classy golf tournament at Coffee Creek.

2 – Support of the tournament helps fund Max Dobson’s “Teaching the Disabled Child” class and the Oklahoma Christian University chapter of the American Marketing Association.

Here’s a link to the registration form: AMA Golf Brochure 2016.

Find me at the tournament and I’ll treat you to an ice cream sandwich!

 

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The great investing website, Seeking Alpha, ran this article about a lawsuit Procter and Gamble  has filed against a competitor in the razor category for patent infringement, deceptive practices, and a whole bunch of other stuff. You can read the article here if you like. 

What struck me as interesting was how they phrased their rationale for the lawsuit.

P&G’s chief legal officer, Deborah Mojoras, had this to say:

We invest heavily in innovation – and our scientists work tirelessly to provide men with one of the best, most reliable shaving experiences in the world. When a competitor makes false and misleading claims against one of our products and infringes our patents, it’s unfair to consumers, and to our employees and shareholders, and we will challenge those violations.”

 

I think some of this wording may be P&G’s attempt to avoid looking like Goliath picking on David. We all like to root for the underdog, after all, and competition is the thing that makes our beloved free market system work. But all that emotion aside, their point is logical and accurate. And justified. Companies of all size invest  lots of resources working to give their customers (that’s you and me!)  value, and they are rewarded with something of value in return. If companies can’t profitably serve customers, customers can’t be served for very long. The “win-win” of “value-for-value” turns to “lose-lose” pretty quickly. As Dr. Steven Covey liked to say, “No margin, no mission.” 

So in a way, P&G is just looking out for the customer. And no, I’m not being sarcastic!

 

 

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In addition to holding records for coaching the most wins  in UCLA basketball history, John Wooden authored several superb books on leadership and how to succeed while staying focused on what is most important in life. 

Wooden often recalled the wisdom of his former college coach, Piggy Lambert. Once, when Lambert was asked by the media at the season’s end how good a job he did as coach that year, Lambert responded, “Ask me in 20 years and we’ll see how successful these boys are. Then I’ll be able to tell you if I succeeded as a coach.”

Wooden obviously went on to be a great success and would often be cited as the source of great inspiration from his former players, and it’s likely that many of them have gone on to inspire people in their lives.

Study a great leader and you’ll often find someone in their back story that powerfully influenced them. Very often, behind every great leader is a great leader.

My bet is you’re the kind of person somebody else will be crediting someday, too.  So thanks for your contributions, leader!

Leaders don’t inspire followers. They inspire other leaders.” – Tom Peters