How to navigate marketing in tough times ft. the hot dog stand story

This is a story that’s been around for probably longer than the internet, and has many different business lessons that are illustrated through it. The story has been explored in conferences, university lectures and articles all over the world.

We’re sorry we don’t know who the original author is, but we would love to acknowledge them if we knew who they were. Here is the story nevertheless…

The Hot Dog Stand Story

There was once a man who lived by the side of the road and sold hot dogs.  He was hard of hearing so he had no radio – he had trouble with his eyes, so he read no newspapers and of course he didn’t look at television.  But he sold very good hot dogs. He put up signs on the highway telling everyone how good they were, he stood on the side of the road and cried out to all that past ‘buy a hot dog, they are the best in town’.

And people bought his hot dogs and he increased his meat and bun orders. He bought a bigger stove to take care of all the extra business. He finally got his son to come and help him out with his business.

But then something happened, his son who had been well educated said . . . ‘ Father, haven’t you been listening to the radio or reading the newspapers or watching television? There’s a big recession happening right now. The current business situation is terrible in this country – we have problems with unemployment, high living costs, strikes, pollution, the influence of minorities and majorities, the rich, the poor, drugs, alcohol, capitalism and communism ‘.

Where upon his father thought, ‘ well my son’s been well educated, he reads the papers, listens to the radio and watches television, so he ought to know ‘.

So his father cut down on his meat and bun orders, took down all his advertising signs and no longer bothered to stand by the side of the road to promote and sell his hot dogs…and his hot dog sales fell almost overnight.

“You’re right son,” the father said, “we certainly are in the middle of a recession!” – Author Unknown

 

So what’s the moral of this story?

As we mentioned earlier there are many lessons that can be learnt from it, however we would like to draw attention to one in particular…

In similar fashion to the Hot Dog Stand man, businesses who discontinue their marketing and advertising efforts which have been successful in the past will soon fail to attract the sales needed. If we were to make ourselves and our teams believe that a recession is going to wipe us out and that times will soon be too tough for our company to survive, then the business will go into withdrawal mode. People will be frantically cutting expenses everywhere, with not a lot of thought about what is going to help to sustain the business and help the company to grow going forward. The trick is to refrain from becoming so obsessed with reducing costs that your sales suffer as a result.

We aren’t suggesting that you turn a blind eye on what’s going on in our economies, far from it. But we do understand the need to be mindful of what we cut back on and whether those cuts will affect our sales negatively. As the story illustrates above, successful marketing and advertising need to be the last thing to be cut. Without them, no one knows what you’re offering and will forget about those ‘delicious hot dogs’ which they used to enjoy from you on a regular basis. Keep your marketing efforts strong and you’ll keep bringing in those sales.