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Thursday, Mar. 5, 2009 at 10:04 am

Sully Sullenberg’s Secret to Online Success

By Bryan Eisenberg
March 5th, 2009

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.~ Michael Altshuler

In January, I was sitting with Jack Love publisher of Internet Retailer as he was being interviewed on WebMasterRadio. Jack told my friend Jim Hedger that it didn’t take much to look good over the last 6 or 7 years in the ecommerce space while industry growth was 25% or greater year after year. A rising tide lifted all boats. Most people could just be on auto-pilot and their business would grow.

Times have changed.

We are no longer experiencing that explosive growth, and in these turbulent times I still see many people hoping to pilot their business using auto-pilot. I have bad news for those people. If you want to avoid a crash and burn over the next few years you are going to have to roll up your sleeves, maintain control, and maneuver yourself to safety.

This week at the “New Rules for Engagement” breakfast Forrester analyst Patti Freeman Evans played the following humorous video (just wait till the commercial ends) from the Daily Show with John Stewart for the 50+ retailers in the room:

In every bit of humor there is underlying some truth. I am seeing so many businesses relying on “Emergency Christmas”, offering huge sales (20+% off) week after week. You probably can see many of those same offers in your inbox. This show of panic to move merchandise is not the way to a safe landing.

I urge you not to stay the course, the times for easy money are over. Sully could have crashed in the middle of NYC, but he stayed calm with effort, some close calls and real precision he could succeed. So can you.

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Comments (4)

  1. Good post. The fire sales are so rampant right now that it’s borderline ridiculous. I saw 50% holiday sales the first week of November this past year. Companies are so eager for a sale they are willing to lose money just to move product.

    I think people forget sometimes that the price savvy consumer is easier to lose than to win over. They aren’t loyal, and will be gone the second they find a better deal somewhere else. If that’s your target demographic, good luck to you!

  2. I am actually thinking about starting business now.

    I guess if I can make it in now, it will be “a walk in the park” later :-)

  3. I’ve found the very same true. Offering discounts on products customers want to buy anyways doesn’t really improve buy rate. It makes them feel a little warm about getting a good deal, but in the end it’s the same purchase, just different margin.

  4. Several months on it is interesting to read this post and to find that only the very smartest people have taken your advice. It looks as if most businesses are still relying on the old formula.

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Bryan Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark and Always Be Testing. You can friend him on Facebook or Twitter.

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