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What Trading Stocks (& missing out BIG TIME) Taught Me About Marketing



In 2008, I was living in Las Vegas and working at R&R Partners on a slew of interesting clients, including the infamous Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. DVR's were the biggest threat to TV viewing and lots of new social media platforms were popping up & vying for a primo place on the advertiser totem pole. It was then that I could really feel the major shifts begin to take place; the convergence of online and offline media consumption behaviors.


Early in the year I took a little bit of money and opened a brokerage account. (A media person's aptitude for math, money, and interpreting results ought to make us pro stock traders, no?) With no instruction and very little research, I observed what was happening in my media life and made a short list of companies who were successfully shaking up our space.


My first stock trade was a baker's dozen shares of Netflix (NFLX), a total investment of around $1,500. After all, the agency's outgoing mail box was perpetually stuffed full with red return envelopes. The day I bought it, the stock fell 23 cents and I panicked. And sold it. That same day. My reluctant review of these hasty transactions reveal that, had those shares been still in my possession, my modest $1,500 would look more like $115,346 today.


And this leads me to reflect on a few lessons that setting my golden goose free has taught me about today's complex marketing landscape:


1) There is no getting rich quick

I have worked with countless startups and challenger brands who believe (misguidedly so) that they can achieve in minutes what legacy brands have built over decades. No matter your category, awareness, consideration, trial, and loyalty take time. Sometimes lots and lots of time.


In this age of immediacy, it can be tempting to take a if-we-build-it-they-will-come stance. But the reality is that brands (and their marketing partners) should expect to invest time, energy and money into developing consistent value for their customers.


2) There is (exponential) value in the long game

While some brands may be in search of 'lit' status; there's a lot to lose by settling for being a flash in the pan. Just a few short years ago we could not get enough of unicorn frappacinos, fidget spinners and eclipse glasses, but those trends have long since evaporated from our mind space.


Building a relationship with your customer, and adapting to their changing needs over their lifetime, can lead brands to the promised land in more ways than one. It's widely understood to be less expensive to retain customers than to find and convert new ones. And happy customers are brands' best advocates, especially today when advertising is less effective than ever before.


3) The road to success is often uncertain. And sometimes terrifying.

Over the lifespan of a successful brand, there is a multitude of things that can, and probably will, go wrong. Consumer behaviors can change, economic factors are even more fickle, and competition by cheaper, hungrier challengers are sure to creep in. The call-out culture birthed by social media will all but guarantee that every brand, at some point, will be at the unfortunate end of an unsatisfied customer.


Know that in most cases, this too shall pass. So long as you put your customer at the forefront of your mission, commit to treating employees with respect, and acknowledge your shortcomings (and make genuine promises to do better).


So the moral, my friends, is to trust your gut. We are so entrenched (in our clients' business and in the overall landscape) that we should feel confident about our understanding of the major swings, enough not to be sidelined by the minor ones. And perhaps most of all, don't be fooled by promises of low-risk / high-reward payouts. There will be work. There will be risk. But it will be worth it; to your customers.




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