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Crossings

By Steve Johnson

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“Never follow the crowd ... until and unless you’re crossing the road.” — Author Sanhita Baruah

Steve Johnson, managing partner of Riger Marketing Communications, in white suit, channels John Lennon from the Beatles’ iconic “Abbey Road” album cover and crosses the road with his colleagues. (PHOTO CREDIT: RIGER MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS)

Crossing the road, crossing the bridge, crossing the river, crossing the ridge, I’ve crossed many times before.

I did not know why. Now I know, I must try.

What a year it’s been. I don’t need to tell you. You’ve got your story. I’ve got mine. Lots of lessons learned. So I’ll try to share here. 

One thing’s for certain: it’s been a year to remember (our 70th anniversary in business) and a year to forget (a pandemic that’s taken more than 200,000 American lives and upended so many others).

Crossing off

Yes, it’s almost time to cross 2020 A.D. off the celestial calendar. That’s a good thing. It’s also a fine time to begin taking stock of where your business is right now, and planning, ever so cautiously, for what 2021 might look like. In business and marketing circles, that means it’s time to develop new marketing plans — objectives, strategies, messaging, media tactics — aimed at improving the bottom line. 

To get there, businesses need to begin rebuilding top-line awareness and sales. No one ever cut their way to market leadership. It’s time to cross off what didn’t work, and in some cases what did work. File it under “P” for past. As managers and business owners, we know intuitively that what got us here won’t get us there. So, we better get busy creating real value for the future. That starts now: today. It starts with reimagining what our business or organization might become.

Crossing swords

If your 2020 has been anything like mine, this pandemic has put you face-to-face with some of the most challenging business situations you have ever encountered. You’ve had to make some gut-wrenching decisions. You’ve had to have difficult and uncomfortable conversations. You have had to speak truth to power. Not liking conflict one iota, that has been extremely hard for me. But sometimes, a hard turn crosses over into a fresh, good stretch ahead. So it is, and we move on.

Crossing the road

Now it’s time to hit the crosswalk. Cross the street. Walk on. Take the path less traveled. At my little marketing company — remember that book from your childhood, “The Little Engine That Could,” by Watty Piper? — we are doing just that. Some may ask, why did Riger cross the road? Well, the answer is obvious isn’t it: to get to the other side. 

Is your shop, large or small, facing similar steps ahead? Now is the time to talk it over to get more customers, clients, or donors walking across the marketing bridge and crossing your threshold — be it brick and mortar or virtual. Talk about what’s working and what’s not working for your business or nonprofit. Get at the crux of the communications biscuit.

So here’s to crossing over to a better tomorrow.

But first, two more notable quotes about crossings, one weighty and one just fun.

• “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” — Poet Robert Frost

• “Yesterday I saw a chicken crossing the road. I asked it why. It told me it was none of my business.” — Author and Comedian Steven Wright      

Steve Johnson is managing partner of Riger Marketing Communications in Binghamton. Contact him at sdjohnson@riger.com

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