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  • Writer's pictureBill Petrie

The Issue with the Bandwagon

Just because everyone is doing something doesn’t make it a great business plan.

I find the entire concept of jumping on and off a bandwagon perplexing. For example, I'm a fan of the Dallas Cowboys. I grew up in Dallas and have been a fan since Roger Staubach was playing in the Super Bowl, so I have both the legal right and moral obligation to root for them.


During my time as a follower of my favorite NFL team, they certainly have had their ups (three World Championships in four years in the early 1990s) and downs (the Quincy Carter/Chad Hutchinson era comes to mind). Through it all, I have remained faithful, and that devotion was rewarded a bit in the past three seasons as the Cowboys posted three straight 12-win seasons – even if they still broke my heart in the playoffs.


It's been interesting to see so many people "suddenly" become fans of the Cowboys simply because they were doing well and scoring ridiculous points for their fairy-tale football teams. In many cases, these same people had treated the team with complete contempt or, even worse, indifference. As soon as it was mildly cool to like the Cowboys, they couldn't jump on the bandwagon fast enough. Not surprisingly, the moment the team got blown out by the Packers in the first round of the playoffs, just as many couldn't hop off the bandwagon fast enough. Next year, if the Cowboys get off to a fast start, those same people will climb back on because it will be fashionable to like the team again. That's the nature of the bandwagon.


This little parable isn't about loyalty, although that does play a part. It's about staying true to oneself, and the lesson is just as applicable in the business world. It's certainly easier to follow a popular trend, market, or group simply because that's where the masses are, but doing so will only ensure that you blend in with the competition.


Put yourself in the shoes of your prospects and clients – would you want yet another promotional products salesperson showing you a Stanley 40 oz. Mug because it's the hot product of the moment? Unless the salesperson took the time to understand the need, the target audience, and the goals of the organization, the answer is no.


Stay off the "hot product of the moment" bandwagon. Instead, work collaboratively with your prospects and clients to provide merchandise solutions that enhance their objectives – not yours. By doing so, you differentiate yourself from the bandwagoners who will remain content on hawking leaky, lead-laden mugs without adding specific and tangible value.

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