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Turning Problems Into Opportunities

You’ve heard all the idioms:
  • If you have lemons, make lemonade
  • As one door closes, another one opens
  • When you go bald, get hair plugs 
They all mean the same thing--though hair plugs are not a good look, unless you fancy your head resembling graph paper--but even non-cynics scoff at the clichés.

A couple years ago, I met my buddy, an eternal optimist, for coffee to help me problem-solve.
I skipped the niceties and dove right in. A client hired me to write blogs, and we cruised through the first batch of six. I’m talking no revisions necessary, just rubber stamping to publication on his website. Then suddenly, instead of the expected, “Looks good” response, the client replied to the next post with multiple suggestions. I revised the post, figuring it was an outlier and that all would be well. But the same thing occurred with the next post and the one after that. A troubling pattern was emerging and confusing me because all the blog topics had been approved ahead of time. 
“This is becoming a problem,” I told my friend. “We went from smooth sailing to every post getting marked up.” 
“A problem is an opportunity,” he said so Zen-like, pointing his finger.
“What the hell does that mean?” I asked. 
“There’s an opportunity for you to talk to your client and change your approach. Maybe you need to go beyond listing topics and flesh these ideas out a little more with him.” 
Talk about a moment of clarity. 
I set up a meeting with the client and presented brief outlines for the next group of posts, received feedback, and the meeting ended with both of us aligned. From there, we got back into a rhythm.
I apply this maxim to my marketing services and everything in my life. I wrote this post before the COVID-19 outbreak upended our lives, but I held off on publishing it. Turns out, the topic is more relevant now than ever. 
Here’s how you can apply it to your marketing concerns: 
Problem - I’m Doing All of Our Marketing
BPE (Before Pandemic Era) it wasn’t uncommon for small business owners to tell me that they were running around from networking event to networking event (now held via video conferencing), managing their own social media, and writing their own content, among other things. You can’t be an effective CEO and CMO. Be the former and outsource the latter before you burn out completely.
Opportunity - Ask For Help That’s Within Your Budget
Stretching yourself so thin at the expense of business development is not a good practice. Time is money, right? If budgets were tight before there's a lot less slack today. If you do have the budget to hire a full-time in-house marketing specialist, great. But that can be unnecessarily costly, and as a small business owner who wants to sustain favorable P&L reports for however long this will last and after, it’s wise to outsource that important function.
Problem - Our Subscribers Aren’t  Opening Our Emails 
 The fact that you have an email list and subscribers shows that you understand the value of marketing. But if they’re not opening your emails, then you risk losing them, and that would be a big, an opportunity!
Opportunity - Improve Your Email Marketing
 If you’re considering stopping email marketing because of low open rates, don’t. According to the marketingphiles at HubSpot, “ generates $38 for every $1 spent, which is an astounding 3,800% ROI, making it one of the most effective options available.” 
That’s a statistic that, if ignored, should be punishable by a Baby Shark marathon. Some small business owners are hesitant with their email marketing because they don’t want to create messaging that’s either tone-deaf or alarmist to the current climate or both. Remember who your primary and secondary audiences are, modify your messaging, and write to them, not at them. Next, hook those readers with conscientious subject lines. Here are great examples from my Gmail inbox:

Yes, I’m shamelessly plugging my own email. Nevertheless, the others made me want to open the emails to learn more, which puts subject lines on the front line of success for your email marketing. 
Problem - Our Marketing is All Over the Place
Again, nice job investing in marketing, but scattering it among multiple vendors can make tracking your data difficult, and your eyes will go crazy cross-referencing different reports. 
Opportunity - Work With One Vendor 
 Keep it all under one roof. I hate the term “one-stop-shop” because it makes you sound like an asshole, but working with one vendor who has the chops to provide writing, website design and hosting, social media management, email marketing, SEO, PPC, and other digital marketing solutions can make life a whole lot easier for you.
Don’t let your marketing problems get in the way of good opportunities. I just thought of a new idiom to add to the list: When a pandemic strikes, pivot.
Be well, everyone. 
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