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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Does the emperor have any clothes?

Whose advice should you follow when we are in a time of economic distress? Can a guru whose sales are declining and laying off employees dare to tell you the secrets of marketing success?

The answer is: Do you know what drives your own business forward, and do you really know what is going on around you?

Yesterday, for example, I had a conversation with a well-placed person who I respect as a true genius about sales, marketing and business development for the professions. We discussed online marketing issues, pricing (we both agree that if your business is not a commodity, the last thing to do in a recession is to lower your prices), and the need to make hard business decisions in hard times.

I've earned this relationship -- and some others of similar nature -- by not worrying about the short term, the "take", the quid-pro-quo, and immediate reciprocity, In essence, these relationships have been built through generosity of spirit and (last year), an overly open budgetary spigot for travel, business development and business expansion.

Today, on one level, some of the expenses I incurred in 2008 seem like a waste. Perhaps not spending the money would have bought some more time before I needed to make hard cuts and changes in the business.

However, on a second level, the expenses in relationship and business development have proven to be wise. They are providing the seeds for new, inexpensive, and low risk publishing projects with exceptionally high potential, one which I expect to announce in greater detail within the next couple of weeks.

Clearly, when the wolf is at your door, the long-range stuff needs to take a back seat. You need business, now, and you may need to do some things you don't really enjoy. But if you spent time, money and effort during the good times in planting the seeds for healthy relationships, these will do you much good when things are less rosy.

Just recognize the importance of these longer-range connections and values if you are tempted to take rash, short term actions. Sometimes the immediate potential reward may not be worth the potential long-term cost.

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