Staying the Course
Forward Progress Through Challenging Times
OUTdrive Episode 9
Today is the primary election day throughout America. As we jump into our topic of Staying the Course, I want to encourage you to get out and vote. It’s our constitutional right and responsibility as citizens of the United States of America and our country needs your vote worse today than ever before.
What a year this has been. What started off as a promising new decade, full of opportunity and momentum virtually came to a screeching halt with the announcement of COVID-19. I was too young to really know what was going on during the Cuba Missile Crisis of 1962, too young to recognize the significance of what was happening in 1968, too young to know what the summer of love really meant, and too young to be drafted to go to Vietnam. I wasn’t too young, however to experience the stock market crash of 1987 – which coincidentally was the year I started my agency, not too young to capitalize on the advent of the internet and social media, not too young to survive the housing crisis and recession in the mid 2000’s but now, unfortunately, not old enough to not make this Covid crisis irrelevant.
Conservative Growth Through Experiences
Through it all, I have always believed in staying the course. When I started my agency on January 1, 1987, I took a 50% cut in pay with two small children at home and ventured out on my own. It was my dream. At the time, I was actually a member of a stock investors club called MOBIC, which stood for Millions or Bust Investment Club. We were all just a young bunch of friends and business associates who wanted to learn how to play the market and buy and sell stocks and leading up to the crash, we were doing pretty well. But when the crash came and the tech bubble burst, we all went our own ways licking our wounds but having earned the knowledge to invest on our own. So I stayed the course, with my vision for the agency, with my day to day operations to keep it going on a shoestring and with small investments in the stock market.
Becoming Knowledgeable of Trends
One of my objectives for being in the advertising agency business was to always stay current and try to be on the leading edge of new marketing technologies as they rolled out. Early on, around 1994, as we started to hear and read about the internet, we started registering domain names and building websites, which really at the time were just glorified brochures…but they were digital and it was hot. At the time, people were saying “oh, you don’t have a fax machine”? and that quickly turned into “oh you don’t have a website”? We built a bunch of websites and realized that this trend wasn’t going away. We stayed the course, committed to be web developers, and today continue to build award-winning and results driven websites that generate consistent results for our clients and revenue dollars for the agency.
Utilizing New Technologies & Planning Ahead
In the early 2000’s, our business was rolling right along, honestly benefitting from a strong economy and bull market. And then the housing bubble burst. The stock market rocked. Businesses cut back and marketing is always one of the first things to go. We stayed the course. During this time, against a contrarian marketplace, we became aware of Google and hired a digital marketing director to help take us full speed into digital marketing. We also invested in the office building where we rented space at a time when lots of real estate was being turned upside down. It was part of our plan to continue to grow our agency and to diversify our personal investments with a plan of 33% equities and bonds/33% real estate/ and 33% business value. We stayed the course.
Over the past ten years, we have continued to invest using the same principles and have seen our balanced portfolio grow in all directions. Starting this year, we were still enjoying the bull market, watching our equities grow to historic levels and generating a consistent return on investment in our real estate and businesses. And then the crisis hit.
Analyzing the Situation
We paused to assess the lay of the land. We researched to learn as much as we could about this new crisis and all the various aspects of our lives that it touched, including our psyche, our physical health, our family, friends and interpersonal relationships, our business and investments, the economy in general and our neighbors and peers who were so negatively impacted. Certainly none of us were prepared to deal with something like this which struck so fast and permeated throughout our lives so quickly.
That was 20 weeks ago. Since then, we’ve seen deaths, protests, riots, looting, movements against the law and law enforcement, murder hornets, cancellations, scientific and educated opinions on both sides of the topic, face masks and the idea of voting by mail…all in a few shorts months. But folks, we’re staying the course. We believe that our country, our economy and our citizens are too strong to let anything stand in the way of our future, so we’re staying the course, and we encourage you to as well.
Planning Ahead & Actualizing Growth
We’re pushing along, looking for talented marketing professionals to join our team and growing to meet the vision we have for our business and for our lives. Folks, things have been tough before. Things will be tough again. But things will also be better again and we’re going to be ready for it.
If you have a marketing program and budget in place that was working when the crisis hit, and you can afford and justify keeping it going, stay the course. If you’ve been evolving your marketing and messages to remain relevant as other things are changing, stay the course. If you have plans that you developed for your future, stay the course. If you believe that America is the greatest country on earth, stay the course. Your future is bright.
I hope you’ve found this information to be helpful as you navigate your brand and your life through what we hope is nearing the end of the COVID-19 crisis. When all this passes, which it will, we all have the opportunity to come back stronger and better than ever.
Listen to this episode of OUTdrive now and join us next week for more entertaining and educational insights as we drive down the roads of rural America.