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Does Your Company Think Like a Fraternity?

My son’s fraternity had a huge problem.  The University of Colorado had banned alcohol during rush parties.

Fraternities use rush parties to get pledges.  Alcohol makes freshman boys happy.  Happy freshmen are easier to convert into pledges.  More quality pledges mean a stronger, more popular house.  Popular houses get the best girls.  You get the idea.

Many houses were too frightened to disrupt the time-honored and alcohol-drenched pledge acquisition formula.  They decided to fight the ban by sneaking alcohol into their rush parties.

My son’s fraternity had a different idea.  They speculated that the attraction of friends could be a more popular lure than the attraction of alcohol.

They launched a huge, concerted pre-rush effort to make friends with incoming freshman, literally going out of their way to meet freshman when they first arrived on campus.  Those freshmen made informal commitments to join the house before rush even started, and then brought in their new friends from the freshman dorms to the “dry” rush parties.    The result – the largest pledge class in the last 20 years.

In essence, the fraternity capitalized upon adverse market conditions and used them to their advantage.

Zumba Fitness, now the largest dance-fitness company in the world, also refused to let a change in market conditions get in the way of their growth.  Virtually overnight, their revenues from DVDs began to plunge due to the omnipresence of counterfeit copies.  To make matters worse, imposter “Zumba instructors”, with no relation to the company, misrepresented themselves for their own personal gain further dampening company revenues.

In addition to protecting their trademark, Zumba also took advantage of the new “opportunities” these two market condition changes presented.  They turned all of their DVDs (and the resulting newly minted counterfeit DVDs) into marketing brochures inviting everyone to go to to see where the closest classes were to get a live fitness experience.  And, in the cease and desist letters sent to the imposter instructors, they presented a compelling invitation to become a real instructor and outlined all the benefits.

Zumba Fitness has experienced a tenfold growth rate in the last three years, with 12 million weekly class participants in 125 countries.

What are the current adverse market conditions that your company is attempting to fight head-on?  And how is that working for you?  There may be a more effective way to use those very same adverse conditions to grow your revenues.

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