So often timing is everything. Today, on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the mayor of Baltimore, announced that she won’t be running for re-election. I can’t even begin to speculate why she would choose this date to make the announcement, but if we think about how many homicides have occurred in Baltimore during the mayor’s term in office, at over 1300 deaths*, we can begin to see the magnitude of the problem.

When things are in turmoil, as they have been here in Baltimore for several years, often, we have to take a step back and reconsider our options. As more mayoral candidates began to sense opportunity and jumped in the race, Rawlings-Blake assessed the situation and decided to expend her energy elsewhere.
The same kind of thing happens in markets. Sometimes markets are in turmoil. Sometimes barriers to entry drop; new competitors come in, and it becomes difficult to define a unique space.

Businesses have several options, but if we over-simplify the situation we can identify three:

  1. Stay in and battle it out on the same terms while watching your margins drop
  2. Bail and find a more profitable attractive option
  3. Figure out how to carve out a unique space under these “new” terms

Though I don’t have statistics to support it, experience tells me that most people choose option #1. Sometimes that can include buying out your competition, but essentially you either deal with lower margins or look toward acquisitions for real growth opportunities.

Some people decide the fight isn’t worth it and bail… too much effort and energy for too few dollars.

Option #3 is tough to figure out, but can definitely be worth the exercise. The moment we lose our niche, we have to start searching for a new one. We have to find that “magic” point of difference that matters to customers or potential customers.

Do you know what matters now in your markets? Are they in turmoil? Is it time to re-assess & re-adjust your strategy before you have to throw in the towel?

Source of info re: homicides – http://data.baltimoresun.com/bing-maps/homicides/?