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How NYC’s “death” should inform your marketing

Is New York City dead forever?

This essay went viral around the city. It’s written by my favourite blogger, James Altucher, and if you have 15 minutes or so, I strongly suggest you read it.

“Midtown Manhattan, the centre of business in NYC, is empty. Even though people can go back to work, famous office buildings like the Time Life skyscraper are still 90% empty. Businesses realised that they don’t need their employees at the office.” – James Altucher, NYC is Dead Forever

We assume that society creeps through behavioural changes slowly.

It doesn’t.

As we’re seeing now, society hits sharp pivot-points. These revolutionary moments flip everything around at incredible speed. Then behaviour settles down, and nothing very interesting happens until the next pivotal moment.

Reading Altucher’s piece, it seems absolutely clear that we are in the middle of a new pivot point. NYC moving companies are so swamped by the exodus, they’re now turning people away.

“The first day we could move, we left,” a dentist was quoted in another article I read.

How might these changes affect you?

You need to think about what might lay ahead, so you can adapt your approach to life and thrive. But something else struck me about Altucher’s essay.

Everything we’re now using to get through COVID-19 already existed before. Zoom has been around for years. Yet nobody wanted to flee the Time-Life building. That’s only happening now.

When people are set in their ways, making a big change is almost impossible. It means pushing through a ceiling of inertia – strengthened over years of repeated behaviour.

It’s why offering a free trial almost always beats the traditional money-back guarantee.   

When you ask someone to buy something – even if you guarantee satisfaction – you are asking them to commit to a new way of thinking. A new lifestyle.

A free-trial overrides this problem. You get your prospect thinking: “Sure, what the hell. I’ll give it a go.”

It’s a smaller step into the new behaviour.

Once they’ve taken this small step, your next job is easy; you make sure they don’t regret it. Do this successfully, and you should have a new customer for life.

If New York City is dead forever, this new work-from-home “trial” may well be the reason. Now the Time-Life building has emptied, its tenants are finally realising the benefits and cost-advantages that were always available to them.

And it’s not just in New York.

Pinterest recently ducked out of a big lease in San Francisco.

BP announced they’re selling off their London offices, and sticking to work-from-home for good.

If a free-trial is powerful enough to kill a world city, think what it could do for your business. Anyway…

I don’t think NYC is dead forever. 

Most cities follow this predictable cycle…

  • First the artists arrive.
  • Then the immigrants.
  • Then the working families.
  • Then the rich.

NYC has just reached the climax of stage 4.

The rich will leave

Property prices will crash.

Tax revenues will vanish.

The city will go bankrupt.

Public services will be strained.

Anarchy will continue.

…Then, amazingly, living in NYC will be cheap again. The artists will flood back in droves, and the cycle will repeat.

That’s what I think will happen, anyway – for what it’s worth.