Challenging financial circumstances offer an opportunity to bring out the creativity within yourself and unlock resourceful ways in which to compete with others that may have the financial advantage over you or your company. This scenario exists within many different industries and paradigms, but I first remember learning this lesson while working at a startup packaging division.


My Challenging Situation

Many years ago, when I first joined a brand new division of a packaging company, we had no product in the warehouse and were competing with companies that had had much deeper pockets than ours. These circumstances seemed a little depressing at the time but would end up planting the seed that ultimately developed into a successful strategy for our company.

The year’s biggest trade show was about to take place in Las Vegas. Obviously I thought of this as an opportunity to strengthen our brand through a massive industry platform. However, when the idea came up in the office to exhibit, my boss said that we wouldn’t be able to do so. He told us that, “We don’t have the sales yet to support it.”  I remember thinking to myself, “How am I supposed to compete when nobody knows who we are, we have no money and we can’t even be at this trade show that every competitor will be attending?”

I eventually asked my boss if he could authorize any type of budget for the tradeshow, and he let me know that he didn’t want to do much more than $1,000. This small but important budget inspired me to sit down with Bud, our VP of marketing. During my time at this company, Bud taught me the importance of using marketing to sell more.


The Creative Solution

Our brainstorming session led us to the dollar store, where Bud purchased a bunch of $1 items in order to create little care packages for marketing purposes. At the time it was a blistering 110 degrees in Vegas, so we naturally decided to purchase items like suntan lotion, sunglasses, chapstick, and other assorted goodies that would have been helpful in that heat. I took everything we purchased, displayed it in a cardboard box which we glued a picture of the desert to and sent my top 10 prospects,

After allowing some time for the packages to arrive, I placed cold calls to these 10 prospects. Their reactions genuinely amazed me, as none of them knew me by name, but all of them responded back to my call or email saying, “You’re the guy that sent me the package.”

Out of the 10 prospects that I reached out to, I ended up scheduling meetings with 6 of them in Las Vegas over a two day period. Rather than going to the trade show, I used our resources to treat them to a drink at the hotel lobby, as we discussed business.

Naturally over the course of two days, I ran into other potential prospects, and was able to meet with them as well. At the time, the circumstances led me to access my creativity, and devise this strategy that was ultimately successful. I just figured that if I hung out in the bar of the trade show, I was bound to bump into the right people.

I was able to take the thousand dollars authorized by my boss (what many would consider not nearly adequate to generate results), and deliver real results for my company. Overall, this is what my approximate budget looked like:


Round Trip Airfare: $350

Hotel: $150

Drinks: $150

Meals: $150

Cabs: $100

Care Packages (with shipping): $100


This $1,000 investment resulted in over $300,000 in new business.


In Summation

Talented and driven salespeople are able to recognize the importance of creativity within their field, and given the right opportunity, can take a small amount of resources and generate real results  In my case, being creative and resourceful involved finding somebody like Bud, simply asking to borrow his creativity and implementing the plan.

It’s truly amazing that when you don’t have the resources, the results can sometimes be even better. I honestly believe that the reason for this is that you are forced into a situation where you must be creative and resourceful in order to achieve a high level of success.

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