Like many, when stay-at-home orders for COVID-19 hit, my family was challenged to find fun activities to do. Fortunately, my daughter received a new ping pong table last Christmas. As our days at home added up, so did our hours playing this fun, active and addicting game.
Ping pong hasn’t been limited to the game played in our basement, though.
Markets and buying habits have been bouncing all over the place – often in situations defying explanation. Here are just a few examples:
- The dairy market crashed (again), then rocketed above $20/cwt before settling around $16/cwt. Volatile is the only way to put it.
- Crude oil went negative. For a day, oil companies technically had to pay someone to take the oil off their hands. Who had that on their COVID-19 bingo card? It rebounded to just above $40/barrel, while putting stress on ethanol plants along the way.
- We dipped into recession territory in March only to achieve new stock market highs and begin a new bull run by the end of the summer.
- And, don’t get me started on toilet paper. Consumption remained steady, then skyrocketed to levels not likely to be seen again (at least not until the next pandemic hits)! But, I digress…
The real lesson here? Pivoting is key in the game of ping pong. You need to make quick and agile moves to be in position to return the next shot. Being flexible and nimble in the current marketing environment is also important. Original 2020 plans may not line up with the needs of a constantly changing market. It’s time to take inventory: what are your real opportunities and what are not?
One thing I learned playing hours of ping pong is going for the smash shot works a low percentage of the time. An overly opportunistic tactic has high probability to underperform. Countering changing market dynamics with flexibility and nimbleness is much different than having a knee-jerk reaction. Remember, good marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. The rule still applies in COVID-19.
Agriculture has proven its resiliency to pinging and ponging markets time and time again. The next drought, downturn or derecho lurks around the corner. Stick to foundational marketing principles to boost your resiliency.
Learn from the past, look for trends, forecast the future, implement new marketing strategies and adapt accordingly. Avoid erratic ping pong behavior. A steady hand steers the ship – or in the case of ping pong, wins the game.