By D’Arcy Rahming
Looking back at my scrapbook for 2007, I saw a newspaper clipping for a Judo tournament that I held at Loyola Hall. The headline was that 250 students participated in this tournament. There were 500 spectators. I remember that tournament well because I actually limited who could participate in it. I thought it was too big and would take too long to complete. 2010 was my low point ,where I had the same tournament and this time only attracted 60 competitors. Of course, I blamed the recession, but the truth was actually something quite different.
If your business has survived this long through the recession, chances are that you either have very deep pockets, have nowhere else to go, or have made the necessary adjustments to successfully reposition your service or product. Unfortunately, it is my experience that there are only a few people that fit into the final category. It actually took me quite a while to get there myself.
The mindset, as well as the pocketbook, of the consumer had shifted and I had not made any adjustments. Needless to say, in a recession when people are losing their jobs and homes, they are not going to be inclined to spend money on what they perceive as non-essentials. And Judo is a non-essential if it is positioned as just another after-school activity. After parents have finished paying essentials such as the light bill, they have scholarship sports such as swimming, track and field and soccer. Not to mention music lessons.
For me this wake-up call could not have come at a worse time. Three kids in private university and with a severe income drop! So I shook the dust off of my brain and begin to implement everything I had learned in marketing. The first thing that I understood was I had to reposition my product. If people were only paying for the essentials, then by golly I had to become an essential. Judo produces disciplined, confident children that can control themselves, get better grades and even defend themselves against violent attacks.
All of these things are essentials that many people want for their children. So I stopped selling Judo and started emphasising the benefits of practicing Judo. I stopped selling kickboxing and began to sell weight loss and nutrition through kickboxing exercise. I increased my knowledge of marketing and social media, and the phone began to ring and the school activity started to make a dramatic comeback.
Then I really had a major breakthrough mentally. I realised that if I could make the phone ring for Judo and Kickboxing classes during a recession, then I could make the phone ring for other businesses. So I began to take on other clients and the rest, as they say, is history.
NB: D’Arcy Rahming holds a Masters of Management from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. A lecturer at the College of the Bahamas, Mr Rahming has clients in general insurance, retail, the health and medical fields, sports federations and financial services. To receive his marketing newsletter FREE go to http://DArcyRahming.com or contact him directly at gmail.com” firstname.lastname@example.org.