Not the Kind of Traffic We All Hope For

Do you live in a city where heavy traffic is an everyday part of your commute?  If outsmarting gridlock is a skill you’ve acquired, then you will appreciate this. Last week as I was leaving for work I learned a semi-truck was stalled, blocking a main interstate lane. Traffic was at a grinding halt.  The back-up stretched at least 10 miles.

The seasoned traffic strategist in me went to work immediately. In situations like this, rerouting becomes a game.  I don’t know about you, but I start running through options in my head.

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Do I take the back roads?  

Get on the interstate, sit in the traffic and catch up on music or news?

Wait until it’s cleared?

I weighed my options and decided to take the back roads. I found one that fed into the interstate right where I needed – just past the spot where the semi was stalled.  With everyone else in the city stuck behind the truck, I had wide open road ahead.

Bingo! Right decision! While I was still a bit late for work, I got great satisfaction from knowing my strategic choice was the right one. I had become aware of the roadblock, did my research, and made the decision to go the way I did.  My success added yet another route to my commuter navigation system.

Find the Open Road

We can easily liken commuter creativity to planning direct marketing efforts.  In direct marketing, there are already tried-and-true roads paved for us, navigation systems to guide us, and our own personal preferred routes to take. It is easy to plan direct marketing strategies using the same paths we take day in and day out, but like driving on the interstate, we are eventually going to experience blocks that appear out of the blue.  Again, it becomes a game of strategy we navigate to arrive at our results.

Budget cuts, bad data, and external factors are some of the things that block direct marketing efforts.  Think outside the box to reroute in these situations.

Budget cuts stifling communication? We can find new low cost or free channels to reach out. We can utilize the power of social media, email, and even word of mouth to communicate. Bad data blocking our goals?  We can research new ways to tap into target audiences, by forging relationships within those demographics, and forming a focus group of sorts. This will keep us up to date on new inroads to reaching hard to penetrate demographics. External factors affecting our plans? For example, when political elections, holidays, and winter weather cause direct marketing response rates to dip, we can plan carefully.  We should do our research, plan the timing for follow ups and sends, and monitor tracking and measurability. Waiting until roadblocks disappear before we get back on the road could be the smartest option.

No matter how big the challenge, there is always another solution in direct marketing.  Identifying the challenge and planning a way around it is only part of the process.  What we discover when we are forced to explore other options helps us determine what route to take next time there is gridlock.  Add those new routes to our navigation system, and next time we can reach direct marketing goals on open roads.