Selling with Nadilo: Will Wall Street kill Main Street?

The date is 9/18/08. I’ve been trying to think about what to write for my column, but the Wall Street mess this week is hanging very heavy on me and everyone I know. I’m having a hard time getting my head around an article on selling when it seems the earth is moving under my feet.

I had some meetings down in Connecticut earlier in the week, so I had the opportunity to listen to Bloomberg radio on Sirius down and back. It was my first time listening, and I highly recommend it – especially when you want some balanced reporting. They do a remarkable job of getting a wide variety of opinions from the private sector and as you listen to them throughout the day, you begin to put your own patterns and analysis together instead of just reacting to a pre-programmed headline.

Of course, there was the discussion and analysis of how the Wall Street crisis is affecting the world economy and stock prices and treasury notes and bonds and investor confidence and on and on. What struck me the most, though, was the incessant talk about how the credit markets will be severely limited in the coming months.

A friend questioned how this all really affected anyone other than people with money in the stock market.

Well, here’s how: This would make it increasingly hard for businesses to borrow money. In fact, one commercial bank was reported to have had a knee-jerk reaction and raised their lending rate to 25 percent just to cut off commercials loans. Of course, this was an absurd bank decision, and the Bloomberg reporter said it was purely an emotional reaction. However, the cold, hard reality is that tighter credit means fewer loans, smaller lines of credit, higher interest rates, more collateral needed, and fewer unsecured lines – all the financial instruments Main Street businesses need to function competitively.

‘Grassroots’ marketing

What does this have to do with marketing and sales? Well, I suspect a lot. When money is tight, fiscal belts get tighter. And what’s the first place that’s usually cut? It’s marketing. I have preached in past columns to keep marketing going when times are tough, but tough times are one thing, having no capital or extremely expensive capital is another.

Unless the government wants to have a deep recession on its hands, money must be available for Main Street businesses to run. Otherwise, I think it is going to be extremely difficult to maintain competitive marketing and sales efforts, let alone maintain sufficient inventory and all the others things needed to run a business.

My advice is to immediately think about and investigate “grassroots” guerilla marketing techniques and implement them quickly. If you are faced with making payroll versus running some advertising, the choice is obvious. But that doesn’t mean you have to stop you marketing efforts:

• For retail businesses, reward your loyal customers and give them incentives to come back with “bounce-back” promotions.

• Provide a coupon incentive for people to come to your establishment. Have your employees hand out them out to people outside of work to give them an incentive to come in and try your products.

• If you are a tech or service company, reward your loyal customers with something of value for each new customer referral they provide.

• Get your employees together and have them think “outside the box” on how to reward existing customers to buy more, and get them to provide you with leads for new ones. Have a policy that no idea is a bad idea; make your judgments after the ideas come forth. Five good ideas stemming from 100 silly ones are five good ideas.

I’m not about to let Wall Street kill Main Street. Are you?

Rudy Nadilo is a sales and marketing expert. He can be reached at