We just returned from a ski vacation to Colorado. We found plenty of snow and plenty of people at the mountain and in the shops and restaurants in town in the middle of the week, too – in spite of frigid temperatures with a wind chill factor below zero.
That's pretty impressive, considering that we're in the midst of the worst recession in 100 years and lift tickets sell for nearly $100/day.
What was more impressive was that in spite of the doom and gloom you hear from the media, things seemed pretty much normal.
People were out having fun, spending money, and living their lives.
This is not to demean the horrible economic environment of the last year and a half. Thousands of homes lost to foreclosure and an unemployment rate in double digits are not to be taken lightly. Many, many people are out of work or have had to downsize their lifestyles to adapt to the new reality. But, on the other hand, the stock market finished a great year, the financial system appears to have been stabilized, and all signs indicate we're on the way to recovery.
As we usher in a new year and a new decade, let's to take a few moments to reflect on what we can learn from all of this, and how we can apply this to build our businesses moving forward.
- If it's too good to be true, it probably isn't. For years, we thought real estate, the stock market, and the economy in general could only go up. We should have known better, and we should have been prepared for inevitable economic downturns.
- Too much of a good thing is still too much. Whether it's bigger homes or cars or leveraged investments, there hits a point of diminishing returns. When that happens on a macro scale, the entire economy is out of balance.
- Money is still green and people are still spending it. They may not be spending as much or as often, but consumers will still spend money on goods and services that they feel are necessary or important to them. Witness the growth in pet care products in spite of the recession.
- Innovation doesn't stop. Smart people love tough problems. Disruptive situations cause smart people to look at things differently and change the future with their innovations.
- There *will* be a next new thing. We don't know what it is, but it will be here sooner than you think. And it's as likely to be invented by the people next to you in America as anywhere else in the world.
- There's always opportunity – somewhere. Sometimes it might require stepping back and taking a different look at the situation. Many people on the ski slopes had discount tickets. But once they got to the mountain, they paid full price for food and drink, parking, après ski activities, etc.
- Quality and value are still appreciated – at all price points. Whether it's a quick takeout menu or an expensive sit-down dinner, those who provide quality and value will always be appreciated. Conversely, cheap or low quality is not appreciated and won't be tolerated – even at a low dollar value.
- The basic laws of marketing still work. To be successful, you need to offer quality goods and services to people who value your product and have the means and desire to pay for them. It's that simple. Everything else is window dressing.
- Finally, the sky is not falling. The world is not ending. Armageddon is not here. The free world as we know it has not collapsed and imploded on itself. Chicken Little should be cooped up and sent away.
Given all of this, what are you doing to take advantage of the opportunities that will become available to you in 2010? How are you preparing your organization and your customers for the new reality? Is your marketing ready for the next challenge?