Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Marketing & The Hot Dog Vendor

In case you weren’t aware, the other primary executive with my company is also my dad. I’m the CU Geek, and he’s the Biker Dude. It’s been said we work well together. He’s seasoned in marketing and sales, knocking out awesome ideas almost hourly. I lean towards the client relationship and technology capabilities (alongside troubleshooting…on both). An idea person and a specifics person: design and refine. A good team.

Father’s Day is this month, and what better way to recognize his unique influence than with a feature story! Even better, this tale is actually one he has told me many times over the years. I’ve committed it to memory since its moral rings so true. Sadly, we see this mistake being made time and again, within the industry and even amongst our partners. But not you.

This story begins on the street. More specifically, on the curb.

“Get your dogs here! Hot, fresh dogs!” He was used to this. It was another day on the job. One he had been doing for decades. Hey, a hot dog vendor in New York City isn’t such a bad way to live. Sure, you’re outside, but you’re standing, and you get to see every kind of person passing through. Over time, you can even predict what toppings a person will have. Three-piece suit? No mustard…it would be a tough chore to clean before whatever important meeting they’re rushing towards. Blue-collar with the name tag? Ketchup and sauerkraut…sure, weird combination, but hey, it’s their dog.

This hot dog vendor made a name for himself, and not just through his friendly service and quality eats. He spent the bread, too…buying signage in the nearest subway station, working out some referrals with the cabbies, and more. “You’ve got to spend to make,” his father had told him.

The hot dog vendor had a son, a smart kid, attending an Ivy League school, in business, of all things. Probably not taking over the cart. One summer, he visited his father in the city, watching him work his craft. Impressed, he asked about his marketing strategies, profit margins, and supply costs. “You spend what on marketing? Dad, we’re in a recession! You can’t just keep spending like that! Cut back on the subway signage, at least. I just don’t want to see you broke in this economy.”

Hey, his son was a college grad, and the hot dog vendor barely finished high school. Surely that kid knows something he doesn’t! So, the next week, he got rid of the excess marketing spending, discontinuing the signs and letting the cab companies know he couldn’t keep the dollars flowing.

Not a month later, his sales fell almost 50%. Excitedly, the father calls his son. “You wouldn’t believe it. You were absolutely right! Thanks for warning me…this economy is rough, and I couldn’t possibly afford all those fancy marketing programs anymore!”

Did you catch the irony of the poor hot dog vendor? His father knew…marketing is important, and more so in tough economic times. Industrialist Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” Shape your own destiny, for your credit union, your members, and your world.

And Happy Father’s Day.

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/georgp/4979127349/

2 Comments

  1. Alan Bergstrom

    June 15, 2018 at 12:59 pm

    Your father has clearly raised a smart son! Well written and interesting piece! Keep ‘em coming!

    • Thank you! Though the credit goes to him, since I just transcribed his wisdom to text. Hopefully my original works (which are often inspired by our conversations) stand up to this one.

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