By Sharon Livingston, Ph.D.
THE LIVINGSTON GROUP FOR MARKETING
As seen in 'Connections' - April 2008 Edition, President's Letter, www.qrca.com
How's business? While some of us continue to go gangbusters, and a few are busier than ever, others report a very slow start to the year. The recession and corporate fears of what's to come have resulted in a temporary tightening of the purse strings among many clients.
Never fear. Marketing Research always survives and this, too, will pass. If you're worried about what to do in the meantime, here are some proactive approaches to take until the projects start rolling in at the rate you want. They work for me.
Avoid a scarcity mentality
One of the worst things we can do is to start believing there's not enough to go around. It throws us into panic and worry. We start to doubt ourselves and distrust others. Focusing on negative or pessimistic attitudes, even if we think we're remaining realistic, will drain us of energy, which could potentially lead to losing motivation and giving up. We spiral downwards and retreat into isolation, instead of reaching out with confidence about our strengths and providing hope for others.
Adopt a positive attitude
We all may have heard that a positive attitude goes a long way. But when it comes time to stay the course in the face of setbacks, the attitude you keep can make or break you. Practice positive thinking and maintain the kind of attitude that you know successful people need to succeed. Envision yourself reaching goals, even if they are only for the end of the day. As Henry Ford once said, "If you think you can or think you can not, you are probably right." A positive attitude almost always breeds positive results, but a negative attitude will do just the opposite.
We all tend to tighten our belts and hold our breath when faced with issues that might be perceived as crises rather than opportunities. It's like someone saying to us "DANGER! Don't make a move, don't make a sound, don't breathe.
But, Spring is here. Go outside and take a deep breath. Revel in new beginnings. Delight in the subtle fragrances and colors that are or will be emerging this coming month. As you're breathing and feasting on the beauty of nature, let your mind wander to possible opportunities that are right outside your door.
Make informal contacts with business friends - clients and colleagues - with the sole intent of giving of yourself. Remind people you've lost touch with that you're here and wanting to maintain your relationship with them.
This might be a great time to take stock of your skill sets and see what may be lacking. You can go to conferences; take courses in person or on the web; get coaching on some specific area; become a QRCA mentor or mentee. Take a look at your public relations arsenal. Is it time to submit an article to Views so you have another published document to distribute to clients and prospects? Is it time to give your website a new look and feel?
What a blessing to have some time off to be in your own home with all your favorite people, pets and comforts. Just think how much more refreshed and renewed you'll be getting back on the road if you take advantage of down time to:
- Do some spring cleaning of office, home and body.
- Read the books you've stacked up for some time in the future.
- Visit an old friend or family member.
- Take a trip.
- Go to the QRCA-AQR conference in Barcelona. (I'm going.)
- Build in some fun, whatever form that takes for you.
To end on a light note, here are a couple of my favorite funny things that have happened to me during my career in this interesting business.
Looking for plaque language
I was doing a group on oral care products, looking for consumer language on tartar and plaque, with specific application to dentures. One man, who said he had a full set of false teeth, was particularly concerned about the matter but was having difficulty finding the words to describe that stuff accumulating on the plastic back of his dentures. Because it was a group searching for language, I continued to probe, trying to get him to fully articulate what he meant.
Eventually, in his frustration, this man, who happened to be sitting to my immediate left, put his hand in his mouth, pulled out his uppers and lowers, held them in my face, not more than 4 inches from my nose, and asserted "HERE! THIS IS WHAT I MEAN!" While desperately trying to quell my squeamish stomach, I calmly asked him and the group, "And what do you call that?"
My parents and the bagels
One time I was doing groups in New Jersey, near where I grew up. One of the women at the facility knew my mother, and mentioned to her that I was coming to work at their office that night. Of course, she didn't alert me about this. After the first group I walked into the back room to see my clients displaced to the rear rows of viewing chairs because my parents, together with my aunt and uncle and a giant tray full of bagels and lox, had decided to come and watch the group. They took the front seats, and kept on saying (in their little Hungarian accents) - "Oh, that's my darling! How cute she is when she asks that! Oh, Isn't that hilarious what she said? Can you believe? That's my Shariku!"
The kicker was when I heard that my clients were invited back to my parents' house for homemade pizza. My parents couldn't imagine why the client politely turned them down. In retrospect, neither can I! ;)
Please share any of your more humorous adventures, business successes this year or business blues. We'd all love to hear from you.
To your success!