A shot in the arm…or, this week, the thigh

March 4, 2009

For the last nine months I’ve had in my possession an epi-pen – a just-in-case precaution for a phantom allergy that attacks without warning. I’ve often wondered if I’d have the nerve to actually jam that needle into the side of my thigh. Do I have what it takes?

Turns out, I do. I’m better now. And wiser for the experience.

What in the world does this personal story have to do with a business blog? I found myself, maybe due to the sleep and food deprivation, drawing an analogy. I wondered: “Who is going to make it to the other side of this economic down-turn? Who has the nerve to do what it takes to survive – to jam that needle and plunge.”

The companies and individuals that refuse to run scared are going to survive. More than survive – they’ll flourish.

I recently read an article in Money magazine that imparted this lesson, among other important ones: “If your competitors are in retreat, you can build your market presence.” Summit is grateful to have some pretty smart clients – clients that view this time as opportunistic and have continued to spend wisely to remain in front of their constituents. This is not to say that they haven’t changed the mix— they have, as have a lot of companies, according to a recent Duke Fuqua School of Business study showing marketing growth this year despite the economy.

In some ways, looking like you’re doing well is half the battle. People feel reassured that ‘you’re in it for the long haul’ if they see you as healthy and pursuing business with vigor.

But if you can’t change with the times, if you can’t ride the waves of technology and customer expectations, then no amount of posturing will help and you may well be the next RBW implosion. For RBW, clients reigned in their ad budgets, media outlets insisted on being paid directly, and suddenly, a great agency went “Poof!” owing more than it was worth.

Could RBW have adapted to encompass new areas to spend client money outside traditional advertising? Maybe. We don’t know all of the reasons they failed. But they did. And I can’t help but think it’s because they couldn’t take the shot.

Painful, maybe – but when death is the alternative – jamming seems like an easy choice.

I’d love to hear your stories of bravery. What, if you can share without giving away top secrets, are you doing to stay in the game? Tell us here.

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One Response to “A shot in the arm…or, this week, the thigh”

  1. Lisa Ikegami Says:

    An very smart analogy, and an interesting story. Thanks for the insight!


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