Marketing Innovation

My wife and I were driving to workout this morning and she mentioned a minor technical problem she was having sending email to board members on one of her endless committees. We discussed it and she told me that—I am not making this up—one organization had hired a former Israeli rocket scientist to help part-time with the IT work

I asked if she thought his credentials were sufficient for the kind of extensive help she needed. We drove on in silence.

But, it got me wondering about a great idea. In this “tough” economy, why wouldn’t a technological expert offer his or her services for one hour a week to the two dozen or more major non-profit institutions in the Greater Providence area? If you charged $100 per visit and showed up for one hour each week, that person would undoubtedly resolve issues that were burning up scores of volunteer and employee hours, which could be used for better purposes. (Don’t worry about value based pricing for the moment, I’m just demonstrating how you can make money to put bread on the table AND forge long-lived, potentially value based relationships.)

If a dozen organizations hired you, and this is an activity that a donor or board member might readily sponsor, that means that you would earn about $1,200 a week or $60,000 a year, for less than two days of work per week with no overhead other than local transportation. In addition, there would be spin-off business with board members, other organizations, faculty, non-profit managers, and so on. You could use value based pricing there, since you wouldn’t be obligated to give your special non-profit rate, and perhaps move into six figures in total. (If two-dozen hired you, that’s $2,400 per week or $120,000 per year for a little more than half your time.)

My point is, whether or not this would work—and I believe there is a huge market for it from watching my wife’s activities and those of others on boards on which I serve—there are myriad opportunities to find and expand business in any economy. I’ve seen people who travel to homes to clean pets in vans, and others who clean up pet waste in yards.

I’ve seen corporate coaches move easily into individual career counseling as people are laid off, and teachers become advisors for home-schooling systems. Whenever the economy suffers, the self-help market expands in inverse proportion. What services and offerings do you have or can you create that add value to people in that market and with those needs?

My admonition is that there are opportunities all around. You can consider yourself a “victim of circumstances” or lucky to be flexible enough to continually turn out lemonade.

But here’s the tough part: It’s your call.

© Alan Weiss 2008. All rights reserved.

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One Response to Marketing Innovation

  1. Mark Cioni says:

    Alan, I agree completely, and although there’s myriad areas to make this work, technology is great since you don’t even have to show up. I fixed a problem for a local business in 3 minutes from my smartphone in the airport while traveling to another client. I got a “visit” fee and it turned into value-based work. There are no shortage of opportunities, and I’m in Central NY, one of the current “poster children” for no local opportunities!

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