Archive for August, 2009

The New World of Work – An Economic History Lesson

In the 1920s our country was primarily agrarian. More people lived on farms or in rural areas than lived in cities. Everything was dependent on the weather and commodity exchanges. Then, the Great Depression hit in 1929. During this time a great draught hit the mid section of the country and farm families lost all they had. Many picked up most of what was left and moved to cities. Florida and California were settled by more families in this time. By the end of the Great Depression we had become a mostly urban nation. Most people had migrated to cities for jobs and conveniences. The great Depression changed where our country lived forever.

World War II actually helped bring the Great Depression to an end. It motivated American Society and industrialized the average citizen like never before. With most of the eligible labor (mostly men) off fighting in the war, women were asked to work in the factories to bring about a victory. I saw a documentary about women working in a weapons factory.

The woman being interviewed talked about walking 2 miles from her home every day to welding school. She talked about getting a job in a munitions plant and welding from sun up to sun down. She talked about the friends she made who were working with her. She said it was hot, steamy, difficult, tiresome and hard work. Then she said, “It was the most fun I had ever had in my life.”When the war ended, she didn’t want to go back and stay in the kitchen cleaning house all day. She had learned a skill and was paid handsomely for it. World War II began to change the role of women forever.

More recently the world market suffered a recession in 2000-2001. It was called the Dot-com Recession. It changed our investment habits forever. As it was coming to a close, the events of 9/11 took place in the United States. For several days, commercial airports were shut down, leaving thousands of people stranded in cities everywhere. Travel came to a standstill almost worldwide.

When travel resumed, there were new security measures in every American airport. Screening machines, taking off your shoes, emptying your pockets and only ticketed passengers allowed at the gates became buzzwords. Your family used to go out to the gate to greet you or say goodbye. But those events changed and we never will travel the same way we did before 2001 again.

I say all this to illustrate the fact that recessions never end. Each is a continuation of the one before only in a different form. The markets go up and they go down. You can almost chart them in 5-7 year cycles. If you are reading this now, you can believe the market will get better, but another recession will be on the way. Market leaders know this and are prepared in advance. They also know that recessions change things permanently. Knowing what is changing and how you react or adjust to it is what separates the leaders from the losers.

The recession of 2008-2009 has changed the way we buy on credit forever. It has changed the way we bank forever. Many banks have gone out of business and the banking business has been forced by the economy and government regulations to change almost everything they do to comply with stricter standards. The recession has changed the way we buy houses forever and obtain loans. No more “No money down” loans. It has also changed both the way we buy automobiles and the type of autos we buy. Pontiac is gone forever. Gas guzzling cars are becoming a thing of the past in favor of more fuel efficient transportation. Everything is on the table and the rules have been changed forever. It’s a new world of work now.

New World of Work Questions…

What can you do that people will buy NOW that they weren’t buying before recession?

What are you still doing that no one is buying?

Leaders vs. Losers: A Marketing Movement in the Health Care Debate

“Health Care Battle Becomes Ad War”
Quoting the New York Times on Sunday, August 16: “Advertising has swamped the airwaves (around) the country as the health care fight has become a full-blown national political campaign.” Ripped right from the headlines, the nation is gripped in a battle over health care. Re-alignment Marketers constantly scan the horizon for trends and best practices. So what can a Re-Alignment Marketer do to seize the movement?

First look at the movement or trend that is taking place. People are showing up in masses at town hall meetings to express their concern or outrage over the health care issue before the United States Congress. No one has seen these attendance numbers at town hall meetings in non-election years in a long time. Feelings are running high. People’s emotions are deeply involved.

A Re-alignment marketer sees this as a golden opportunity to act swiftly. If you own a sign company, a radio or television station, this is the time to sell and name your price! Why? Because everyone wants to express their opinion and get their message across.

Sign companies, for instance, can make a fortune printing posters and placards supporting or opposing the health care initiative. Have you seen the make-shift placards people are showing up with and putting in front of television cameras? They would just about pay anything to have a decent sign with a catchy slogan expressing their opinion. So catchy that everyone would want one (and a matching t-shirt, too).

Radio and television stations who have seen their advertisers dwindle should be on the front lines offering commercials for both sides as well. Newspapers who are scratching to stay alive now can sell ad space to both sides of the debate. I remember when the Atlanta Braves were playing great baseball in the early 1990’s. Each day the Atlanta Journal and Constitution would include placards for fans to take to the stadium that cheered for the team and individual papers. Everyone had to have one. They became collector’s items. And the only place you could get them was buying a newspaper. The same is true for a political movement. Now the media can not only report the news, they can capitalize on it and sell advertising time/space to those who want to broadcast/display their opinion.

Any time you have deep emotions around a political issue, it should be telling you that this is a golden opportunity to get involved as a Re-Alignment Marketer. Never has finding a movement to sell in been easier for print or broadcast media.

Re-alignment marketers constantly scan the horizon for trends and best practices. The trend today is Health Care.

Leaders vs. Losers: People Buy What They Buy, Not What You Sell

As school begins, children all over the country begin going door to door to sell items from a fundraising sales catalogue to raise extra money for their school. A young boy came to my door with one of these last week. He looked scared. He looked shy. He looked unsuccessful. I offered to give him help. Here is the story I told him.

My daughter loved selling door to door when she ws younger. She had no fear of knocking on doors. She did that part well, but didn’t sell much. She would come home frustrated. However, one day I noticed on the back page of the brochure was Christmas wrapping paper. Iknow from experience that people never think they have enough wrapping paper for the holidays and start thinking about it in the fall.

“Honey,” I said, “when you go to the next door, tell them you are only selling holiday wrapping paper. Everyone wants wrapping paper in the fall to get ready for the holidays.” Armed with this idea she went back out, confident and smiling.

It worked great! She would knock on the door and only say she was selling wrapping paper. Most people were interested and asked to see what the designs were. Since they were in the back of the book, my daughter would flip casually through the pages to find them. As she did, the prospects could see everything else available. Most times, she not only sold wrapping paper, but chocolates, gift baskets, plushy dolls and a host of other things people saw on their way to the wrapping paper pages.

Her success was centered in selling what people wanted and were buying: wrapping paper. I know from her previous experience when she said she was selling things to raise money for school, no one was interested. I know that when she handed them her sample catalogue, they didn’t want to see anything. BUT when she marketed an item that people were already interested in buying, her sales skyrocketed.

The young man left confident and smiling. At the very next door, he made a sale…

Today, we can learn from this. If you do your research and homework, you will easily find what people want and will buy. Sell them that.

People buy what they buy, not what you sell.

Read more about this and “Losers or Leaders? The Indisputable Truths” at http://www.jimmathis.com/pdf/IndisputableTruths.pdf

Leaders vs. Losers: “Wached” out Wachovia, Loser of the Month

This one is almost too hard to believe. If it hadn’t happened to me, I would think it was a fabricated story.

After two days of “harassing” phone calls to clear up a business loan payment (that had been made). I had had enough. Here’s the pattern: my phone rings. I answer. It takes three times saying “Hello” before the person on the other end says, “Uh, hello” every time. Each time they ask for someone else in my organization without giving their name or who they are calling for. But when I insist, they give their name and say, “Wachovia Bank.”  So I called Wachovia Friday to ask why their people call you to discuss your account, but they don’t identify themselves by name or company. I finally after repeated requests was connected with a supervisor, Patrick.

Patrick told me that it is a security matter so you won’t know their name or that they are calling from the bank, but if you ask who they are they will tell you. I asked what the difference is and why they had such an ambiguous unprofessional policy…ready? Quoting Patrick: “We don’t take suggestions…from people who call in, customers or not. We are very successful and don’t need advice on changing our policy.” I said, “Aren’t you afraid your customers will tell someone or blog about this?”  Then he hung up wishing me a “nice day.”

Oh really? Then why did Wells Fargo buy them out just ahead of bankruptcy? Does the federal government think they are successful? Honestly, I remember headlines that read Wachovia didn’t fare well in the recent recession. Did they take any bailout money? Or were they so successful, they didn’t need assistance or someone to BUY THEM OUT?

More importantly, does Wachovia train their customer service supervisors to justify their poor quality service with phrases like, “We are successful so we must be right.” I worked in churches for years that used this explanation: if they had many members and money was coming in that MUST be God blessing them. Apparently, Wachovia subscribes to the same logic – big means infallible.

Second, is Wachovia really considered successful in 2009? Does Wells Fargo know this is what the new kids they are taking in are telling their future customers?

To compound the insanity, I went to my local branch and asked the manager about this response. Here is  the answer I recieved: “We don’t really know what they teach these people, but I guarantee they aren’t putting money into customer service training with the merger going on.”

So while Wells Fargo is slowly taking over, Wachovia is quickly burning the house. Losers.

So who is doing well? Independent community banks. Yes, your local community bank that didn’t make as many bad loans and wasn’t heavily invested in big businesses that were overextended. People are moving from the big interstate boys to the local independents. Not saying that the large banks have seen their day, but the movement and trend in 2009 is community and independent.

More as this trend develops.


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