An article in Entrepreneur magazine this summer caught my eye with the headline "Timing is everything." I liked the secondary heading even better: "A record-high stock market exposes the suckers. Don’t be one of them."
By this time I was smiling, and of course, interested in reading on. The article was written by J.D. Roth, who founded a finance blog at getrichslowly.org and authored a personal finance book. I also find the website address worth noting. While marketing is not a means to get rich, the word "slowly" has merit. Great marketers focus on building a strong weighted average price for their production over time.
In this article Roth emphasizes the old mantra "buy low, sell high" – which is advice everyone has heard, though not necessarily followed. Case in point: Roth notes that with the stock market climbing, many who sat on the sidelines the last few years are getting back in and doing just the opposite – buying high. Roth minces no words in his article, saying: "Wall Street has a word for these people: suckers."
So why do people not follow the advice that’s been around forever? In a word, it’s emotion.
I have written often about the need to avoid emotion in your marketing. While it’s easier said than done, once you learn to be disciplined and not allow emotion to influence your decisions, your marketing can go to the next level.
Roth puts it this way: To make money in the market, remove the human element from the equation. He provides several examples in his article on ways to remove the "human element" that apply to marketing. Here are two that I particularly liked:
Don’t Follow. He says, "If you do what everyone else is doing, you’re likely to get burned." I encourage you to be the contrarian he’s talking about. When everyone is bullish, find a reason to be bearish – without going to extremes.
All the time we get asked what the consensus is among producers, are they selling or not? If we say that everyone wants to sell, they respond by saying they want to sell too. That’s the worst way to reach a decision. If you find everyone is selling corn, it’s probably time for you to buy.
In most years, corn producers are not as far sold as they hoped to be by summer. As prices continue to slide, they hope for a rebound and begin building a consensus as to why prices can bounce back. A contrarian might sell into that weakness – rather than sell later, after prices have gone down long and far.
Consider this additional potential: When prices are weakest, your neighbor is hesitant to upgrade equipment, and rents are attractive, those who did a great job of marketing can take advantage of lower rents and sales on equipment.
Stick With It. The market will go through dramatic swings; history has shown us that. Emotionally you must be prepared for those swings. Be ready by pre-planning your strategies and knowing well in advance what you’re going to do when the market does its thing. Then, when the storms hit, stick with your decisions. Don’t be swayed by the news of the moment.
I’ll end with a quote from Curtis Faith, a Chicago trader who turned a few thousand dollars into a fortune of over $200 million in the early 1980s: "Human emotion is both the source of opportunity in trading and the greatest challenge. Master it and you will succeed. Ignore it at your peril." This same thinking applies to your marketing.
Scott Stewart is CEO of Stewart-Peterson Inc., a commodity marketing consulting firm based in West Bend, Wis. You may reach Scott at 800-334-9779, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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