After working in New York City and living in New Jersey after college, I moved to North Carolina three years ago. I returned to New York this past weekend for a volunteer trip to Queens and to visit friends in Manhattan.
Change Your Mindset: Driving and Marketing
Driving in New York took some adjusting after three years in the suburbs of a smaller city. Likewise, smart marketing can require some important mindset adjustments along the way.
1. Not everything’s cheap, but convenience has value.
Four hours at the parking garage was $30. I could have driven around for 45 minutes, looking for a cheaper metered spot. But was that really the best use of my time?
Free marketing tools are great… but if subscription-based services like Lynda.com and SEOmoz help you get consistent results faster than free alternatives, it doesn’t make sense to skimp. And hiring a solo web designer might get you a cheaper website, but hiring an agency gets you multiple people who are experts in their particular discipline… and a project manager who ensures it all happens efficiently.
2. Pay attention to the market, and know when to change tactics.
In retrospect, I should have parked somewhere in Queens and taken the LIRR or subway in. Just because I had unlimited miles on the rental car for getting around Queens didn’t mean that was the best tool for the job. From the heavy tolls to high parking costs to a cheap and convenient subway system, there’s really no reason to drive in Manhattan — the unspoken message is “don’t have a car.”
Likewise, marketing tools like static websites and paper-based direct mail once seemed like great ideas… but not the strongest ideas today!
3. Look into the future, and be prepared to react quickly.
Knowing that someone might cut in front of you at any time means you can prepare for it and react accordingly.
In marketing and business, things change. Don’t be Eastman Kodak — bankrupt after missing the boat on digital photography, or American railroads — bankrupt in the 1960s and 1970s after they were unable to keep up with air- and road-based competition.
4. Accept what you can’t change.
Rather than fume about traffic jams and erratic pedestrians, it’s better to accept it and move on. If you want to merge, you better hit the gas and pull into traffic, or else you’ll be waiting there all day.
Markets are going to change. Competitors are going to do things that leave you in the dust. Accept that it’s going to happen and adapt.
What are your lessons learned?
I made it through without a scratch on my rental car. It was fun to catch up with friends, but the trip affirmed my decision to move to Raleigh, where getting from Point A to Point B requires something less than eternal vigilance.
What have you learned by driving in super-crowded cities?