Marketing Lessons to Be Learned from the Government Shutdown

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with more than 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

With the government shutdown, we see Republicans and Democrats failing to communicate. Stalemates are no fun and they certainly are unproductive, costly and demoralizing.  shutdownonlyRemember, it is not which party you are in. Rather it is about keeping the party going…

Here’s some helpful tips to make us all better marketing communicators and to keep the party going:

1.  Find a microphone and get on the soapbox. Communication is the key to reaching your clients, target audience, suppliers and employees. Don’t do what Congress did, namely, to stop talking. It’s not a bunch of relatives having a typical family spat! Instead, do the opposite.  Your medium is really the microphone. Use it and blast the message out regularly.  And don’t skip issues of your publications.  It is always best to keep the communication regular and flowing. Turn up the volume; keep it colorful; keep it lively. The tide will eventually turn.

2)  Shake hands with your competition.  Never overlook who may be your future allies or business partners. Putting heads together and cooperating can help you better deal with emerging trends and might be an opportunity for sharing equipment, information, promotions and skills that could benefit both entities.

Quote3)  Find compromise with the client.  Don’t be a prima donna who is married to every word or graphic as if it is a masterpiece. Make the client your partner.  It’s not a game.  It is simply a process to deliver a successful marketing package, newsletter promotion, collateral or advertisement.  There’s no need to feel defeated even if your vision is not brought to life in full regalia.

4) Discover the team in your workplace.  Everyone in the organization has a special talent and each person can make a valuable contribution to the process. Putting these talents to work can help ensure that the final publication will be a success.

5) Keep a healthy relationship with the client.  It always shows through in the work you do. In my experience, it just seems that publications are much more vibrant and the message is more on track when the client is happy.

6) Address any problems as they come up.  Do not put these off until a major crisis occurs. Always appraise the client if you anticipate any potential problems that may affect the design, quality, distribution, printing or deadline of the piece. Communication is always the best route. No problem is insurmountable and it is better to tackle it earlier rather than later before it results in a snowball effect. Generally, the later one waits in the process, the more costly if gets. This is especially true once a job is on press at the printer.  Even more costly, is when an entire job needs to be reprinted and embarrassing errors have occurred after distribution.

7) Maintain a positive attitude in all relations with the client. Look on the bright side…Even the most problematic project has to eventually come to an end.

8) Act unlike Congress and avoid the blame game!  It’s not whose fault it is. It’s how, together, we can all make this better. Leave your ego outside the door to your office.

9) Develop newsletters that provide ways to achieve goals rather than hinder them. We can all benefit from finding solutions rather than highlighting and focusing on problems. Newsletters are great ways to communicate this.

Shutting down means giving up. In business it is always best to work through a problem, and find solutions, which frequently mean compromise. Our leaders should heed this advice, as well, or find a new profession.  Who knows, it might even allow the government to start back up.


If your company needs an innovative newsletter, e-publication, or promotion or advice on communicating, please contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.netWe make beautiful things happen. To find out more please visit

Harlan West is the author of and has been working as a creative director and design professional for more than 25 years and has designed and art directed hundred of publications for both print and online purposes.

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