Customer Watch: Combating the Doldrums

I got sidetracked this week on a project, and the pithy analysis I proposed to post here will need to wait until next week. Instead, let me share with you a bit of wisdom passed along to me today.


Conversing with my doctor this morning during a routine appointment, we were mulling over the state of the economy. So many friends who are entrepreneurs – talented designers, retailers, consultants – are seeing their businesses decline. Many long-standing businesses have been forced to close. Homes have lost substantial value. Properties are going into foreclosure. New home sales are at their lowest point in 16 years. People are afraid to leave toxic jobs for fear of not finding new ones. Gasoline prices go up and up.


Less serious but genuinely annoying, airlines are cutting benefits right and left. I can only wonder how I will manage to pack everything I need for an upcoming conference without resorting to checking a second suitcase (for which I’ll be charged $25 each way) in order to avoid baggage overweight charge for one heavy bag of $100 each way. Or should I visit the UPS Store? My advice: Buy stock in shipping companies. (No, that’s not the tip of the day.)


The litany of woes goes on. According to the news this morning, Sam’s Club and Costco have begun rationing rice. Rice!


In this environment, counsels my doctor, it’s healthy to allow oneself some small perks. His prescription: Buy a mid-priced piece of jewelry. Not something so expensive that it will undermine one’s ability to make ends meet, nor something so cheap that it doesn’t bring on a smile. We all need a bit of a treat when times are bad. This gives a boost to our psychological well-being. And it’s a vote of confidence for a brighter future to come.


In these horrible economic times, isn’t that a marketing message that can hit home with customers dealing with these economic doldrums? Thanks, Dr. A. Thinking about that little sparkly “perk” I’ve got my eye on, I feel better already.

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