Resist Tunnel Vision About Your Value, Heed Market Feedback & Turn Failure into Success

In today’s rapidly shifting strategic marketing and public relations landscape, being willing to change is only one part of the equation.

You’ve also got to be continually alert to those ways in which you must embrace change–or invite extinction.┬áThat truth comes to mind as 2010 draws to a close and I reflect on what was happening in my professional life five years ago.

In the January 2006 issue of North Shore magazine, I bought an advertisement for Your Front Page. It was part of my big promotional push for a personalized writing service that until that point had been a fun sidelight to my journalism career.

I hoped the ad would trigger a deluge of business from folks in places like Winnetka, Northbrook and communities all throughout the Chicago area who wanted a distinctive way to commemmorate birthdays, wedding anniversaries and other celebrations.

Alas, the placement sparked a grand total of one phone call. And here’s the kicker: it was from a salesperson hoping I’d buy an ad from his publication.

The “Your Front Page” ad
in North Shore magazine

I realize that with advertising, repetition is vital, so I don’t in any way fault the magazine (which has recently been assimilated into the burgeoning Make It Better empire). Besides, I made other grassroots marketing efforts to get the service off the ground.

Despite my grand ambitions, Your Front Page has attracted a mere three clients in the past five years. And while enthusiastic responses to the pieces have been gratifying, it’s obvious that on a commercial level, my blueprint of how I’d shift from journalism has been a resounding flop.

Fortunately, I wasn’t hung up on the exact nature of my value to the marketplace. As a result, YFP’s failure has opened the door to the success of what has become Inside Edge PR.

Like a quarterback who spots a coming blitz and calls an audible at the line of scrimmage, I have been open to market feedback and carved a niche as a Chicago-area publicist who uses a journalistic sensibility to help small- and medium-sized companies and organizations.

Over the next five years, where will it all lead? Will I continue along this path of helping mostly Chicago-area businesses connect with, and expand, their market?

Maybe–though I wouldn’t bet on it coming via some orderly trajectory. New wrinkles continually emerge: over the past few years, for example, Inside Edge PR has jumped feet-first into the use of videos for PR as well as developing a strong social media presence for clients.

Through it all, one thing is for certain: nobody, least of all me, can afford to stay stuck in any preconceptions about how they can best serve the marketplace.

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