Three marketing lessons learned while stuck in traffic

Even a traffic jam can yield some positive results! Here are three marketing lessons I learned while stuck on Highway 400.

1. If you interrupt someone, be nice
I was cut off almost immediately after merging onto the highway. While many drivers’ knee-jerk reaction would be somewhere between exasperation and rage, I smiled. Why? Because I got the wave – a simple gesture to let me know that it was unintentional.

Likewise, if you’re going to interrupt someone’s day with a marketing message, be nice about it and say thank you. You don’t want to receive the marketing equivalent of being flipped the bird.

2. The herd mentality is alive and well
I saw this over and over again during this traffic nightmare: drivers changing lanes when things slowed down.

I noticed that when traffic came back to the inevitable halt, drivers head for either the left-hand or right-hand lanes. This happens every time, despite the fact that you can’t beat congestion. Half an hour later, I ended up beside the same SUV that had been weaving from lane to lane.

Social evidence as an influencing strategy in marketing is here to stay. Read Robert Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion for more on the subject.

3. Stay nimble
There aren’t many old cars on the road these days. When I was younger, the highways were filled with beaters.

Boy, how the times have changed: emissions testing and super-low interest rates are responsible for condemning those old cars to the wrecking yard.

This got me thinking about marketing plans. The lesson learned? You need a nimble marketing plan. Not only because your business may evolve but also because the environment you’re working in may change dramatically … and quickly.

I honestly hope I never get caught in a traffic jam like that ever again, but I am glad that I was able to turn it into an educational experience. I guess there’s another lesson here – something about always finding the silver lining.

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