Sunday is Father’s Day. It’s a time of year that I share an essay written to my Dad with seven values he taught me simply by being a role model. This week I reflect on how these seven philosophies and leadership qualities are influential to direct marketers.
I was raised on a farm. We had (and it’s still in the family) farmland on both sides of the Kansas and Nebraska state line. My Dad is now 90 and retired, but for his 75th birthday in 2001, I wrote my thoughts about him in an essay I titled “What I Learned From You.”
In 2004, I sent it to advice columnist Dear Abby for consideration in her Father’s Day column. She published it, and it was distributed to hundreds of newspapers, representing over 100 million combined circulation. I have a scrapbook of clippings from around the world of where it was printed, along with letters of thanks from readers for sharing these words of wisdom.
Using the titles of the seven values from my original version (with some adaptation), but with descriptions and values adapted for leaders and marketers today, I offer you these recommendations based on what I learned from my Dad, my role model, while growing up on the farm.
1. Make Hay When the Sun Shines
Not every marketing campaign, nor every quarter or every year, will be profitable. Count on it. So when business is good, capitalize on it. Test more and outside the box, probably with more risk, while you can afford it. Someday your control is going to fatigue and you should have three tested campaigns ready to go.
2. Sharpen Tools on a Rainy Day
When things are slow, invest in yourself and develop your team. Go to an event. Read books and discuss what you learn together. Review your unique selling proposition. Take a critical eye to your marketing message and ask if it’s confusing, unbelieveable, boring or awkward. Reinvent often, because marketing today is evolving and changing at a dizzying pace.
3. Do 2 Things at Once
Whether you’re the leader of your organization or a manager, in this day and age you must master the art of multi-tasking. Now, I’m the first to say that you can overtask your mind to mush (especially with so many interruptions from email, texts or IMs). But you must juggle efficiently to double your effectiveness.
4. Keep Machines Cleaned and Maintained
Take care of stuff, like the tools and technologies you use to get your work done. Learn about new technologies that could apply to your business. Get in front of change and you’ll find it a more satisfying experience than when you’re behind the curve.
5. Stay Between the Lines
Don’t be the marketer who drifts into a gray area of ethics. Don’t risk your reputation thinking you can make a few more bucks with a questionable offer. A reputation takes years to build and seconds to destroy. Bad behavior will catch up with you.
6. Take the High Road
Business culture today is vastly different than when I first started in direct marketing in 1978. It’s more competitive and tougher. Treat your staff, customers, vendors and others as you would want to be treated.
Customer trust is earned and built over time. It needs to be consistent. When you’re true to your customers, they will stick with you. That’s powerful. And trust is what leads to long-term business success.
This weekend, I hope you’ll honor your Dad. And if you’re so moved, please share in the comments section below how your Dad influenced you in your life, and has made an impact on you in your marketing career.
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