The pink elephant in the room no one wants to talk about.
Do you know what the “pink elephant in the room” means?
It’s a metaphor for “something uncomfortable” no one wants to talk about.
So for example, lots of personal issues may fall under this category: marital infidelity, a recent stint in rehab, your kid’s arrest, someone’s critical illness or a death in the family.
These are all issues that we carry on our back, and in fact, they’re heavy enough that others around you wind up carrying them as well, but… they aren’t necessarily easily discussed. That’s why they’re called “the pink elephant in the room.”
These brutal truths are with you, but they linger unaddressed or undiscussed. Usually, the pain of dealing with them is greater than the pain of ignoring them. And sometimes, they infer value judgements or personal embarrassment. (Who wants to discuss their infidelity, especially if they’ve been caught, for goodness sakes?)
To a great extent, the current recession we’ve been experiencing is “a pink elephant.”
I can’t tell you how many e-mails I’ve received over the last 45 days, from a variety of marketers, which sort of gloss over the recession as if it’s a fleeting cold sore that’s going to go away — all you need to do is put a little ointment on it or something and wait 7 days.
Or else they say things like this, “Hey, what are you talking about? I just had my best month yet — there must be something wrong with all you whiners. All you need to do is surround yourself with people like me and buy my shit and you’ll be fine and dandy.”
Let me tell you something.
I don’t know ANYONE who hasn’t felt the effects of the recession, myself included. My income is down from last year, thank God only slightly, but what I’m having to do to keep it up, is pretty darn hard.
I had to start another business from scratch and kill myself for 90 days, to make things happen. Now you may say, “Well, at least you can do this.” But who wants to do extra, just to keep the status quo?
Not me. You want to do extra to GET extra.
You know, I was even talking to a divorce lawyer the other day, and he told me there isn’t an attorney in his town who’s not feeling it.
He said people are initiating a divorce, and then they’re simply not able to make any payments to their attorneys. After all, in a typical divorce, you wind up splitting apart some kind of an asset base to initiate the divorce proceedings and to then go on with your separate lives.
But today, there’s no more asset base to pull apart. Retirement savings, 401(k)’s, and other savings accounts have been halved in just the last few months alone. And home equity — shit, that’s a joke. Home equity’s been stripped to the bone, and most people are upside down in their homes now, especially if they moved in sometime during the last 5 years.
He also told me most people are just staying together and sort of “grinning and bearing it” until things get better financially.
Sure enough, Anne comes home that same night and tells me about some friends of hers who are splitting up but they can’t afford to get divorced so they’re staying together in their house for now.
Listen, it’s really crazy out there.
So here’s the REAL deal about the recession, in case you were starting to feel like you’re the only one feeling it. Rest assured, you’re not — and… there’s nothing wrong with you.
Here’s what happens during times like this, and some solutions about how to overcome these issues:
One, people stop paying their bills on time. So even if your customers don’t want to stop paying you, many of them aren’t getting paid on time, or even at all, and this ultimately trickles down (or up) to you. If they aren’t getting paid, you won’t get paid either.
Two, your receivables may build up, depending on what kind of a business you’re in. So do whatever you can to initiate or rapidly collect them, including offering discounts. Remember, a dollar today is worth far more than the promise of a dollar tomorrow — especially if that promise gets broken.
Three, there are lots of good buys out there. So if you do have some cash and you’ve been needing things like PPE (Plant, property, equipment — I harken back to my days as a CPA.), you’re going to find loads of bargains around.
Four, cut any unnecessary costs. If you’ve got an assistant, then make sure they’re busy all the time, or else clip their hours to part-time or use someone virtual. Bottom line is, now’s not the time to be dicking around “hoping” things get better.
“Hope” is not a good business strategy, and it’s not a good recession-fighting strategy either.
Five, since most of your competitors have been either wiped out or decimated, ramp up your marketing. This is the one area you want to sink more money into. However, the good news is, just as with the PPE deals, media is hurting as well. You’ve got lots of leverage now, especially if you’re using space advertising. Newspapers and magazines are at an all-time low, profit-wise, and they want your business.
In fact, in many cases they want your money much more than you want their ad space. Direct-mail is also down now, so your list broker is hungry, and so is your printer. This is THE time to be picking up new customers, by niching your list further, and by cutting a deeper swath into your marketplace.
Establishing yourself as a leader is easy now, when most others are cowering in the basement. It’s important however, you target your marketplace specifically, since they too, are trimming the fat.
There is money out there, you just have to work smarter (not necessarily harder) to get it.
Six, appreciate that most people who are running around telling you “everything’s beautiful” are either lying, or their head is up their ass. Everything’s NOT beautiful, but that’s simply the market risk we all take running our own business.
You either deal with it, and make things happen to overcome the challenges you’re facing, or… you sit on the pink elephant and rid off into the imaginary sunset, on his back.
Denial is an ugly thing, and it’s also insulting.
The choice is yours.
Now go sell something, Craig Garber
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