Can you make it right? The perils of marketing and business mis-steps

Living on a tightrope -- business isn't usually this extreme, but there are times when it seems we are on the edge
Living on a tightrope — business isn’t usually this extreme, but there are times when it seems we are on the edge

We all screw up from time to time, sometimes seriously. Most successful companies, of course, hide their mistakes and many struggling ones do what they can to cover them up. Sometimes the only time a marketing or business blunder becomes public occurs when the business fails — and that usually would be a very large company. ?(Think Kodak, inventor of the digital camera, or Nortel, which crashed and burned in accounting and business management scandals.)

My own list of mis-steps over more than 25 years in business could fit a small encyclopedia volume. I’d like to say I’ve learned from the mistakes, but enough new things happen to screw things up that even the best lessons in humility cannot keep me from saying, again, “Oh no, not again.” There are basic rules of business survival that have helped out — understanding the dangers of putting all the eggs into one basket, not burying your head technologically (a really big concern in the media/advertising business) and respecting contractors, employees and debt, and realizing how all these forces?play a role in sustaining — or potentially — killing a business.

In part because our business is providing marketing services (advertising) we’ve avoided some of the biggest blunders in that space. No Superbowl or “all or nothing” advertising; no contracting our website/domains away to third-party organizations or leads services; and certainly no advertising/marketing purchases at the behest of fast-talking telemarketers. And we’ve done some things really well, including effective engagement with relevant associations (the best source of leads for us, and probably your business).

In other?aspects, we have it largely right but could improve a fair bit. Our websites (including this one) are reasonably good both in content and SEO, but I know are not at the highest level. And I and our?staff could do better in seeking out public speaking and book writing/communication opportunities.

Some of these points will be discussed at our mid-year review this week. We’re putting ourselves through the challenge of two lengthy teleconference sessions Monday and Wednesday, reducing the time/inconvenience cost of a face-to-face gathering but perhaps burning our ears and encouraging participants’ attention-distracting multi-tasking.

But here, we too have learned that a business planning/management/meeting process is essential for long-term survival. There are missteps, yes, but with thoughtful communication and a willingness to learn, we don’t step off the cliff or fall off the tightrope.

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