Monday, February 4, 2008

The "R" Word

If you, like a good number of your friends, neighbors and – perhaps more importantly – your business associates, subscribe to the notion that our economy is either approaching or already in the throes of a recession, take a deep breath. Maybe we need to change the “R” word to the “O” word.

As in “Opportunity.”

Welcome to the February edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

I’m no economist, but I have seen The Ways of Things in my thirty-plus years of doing business, both on the corporate and service-provider sides. Think Stock Market. To re-paraphrase Isaac Newton, what goes down…must eventually go back up.

Here are some heartening observations I’ve gleaned lately by fellow marketing pundits.

Charlie Elberson, Wray Ward Laseter VP of Brand Development, notes in his blog:

“Thriving in hard times is especially gratifying (and certainly more attention-getting) because few can do it. Wisdom, courage, smarts – along with an ability to grasp new realities – these are prerequisites to getting through down times on top. Most important is a steely-eyed commitment to a plan.”

Among which are:

“• Increase share of mind. Increasing brand presence during a recession yields disproportionate increases in share of market. Why? You’re buying real estate in buyers’ minds while the competition is withdrawn. Smart.

• Simplify your world. Bet that your competitors will reduce the scale of their programs but not the scope, they’ll do less of everything. Now is a great time to do a few things really, really well.

• Get ready for the Big I (major initiative). Good times, like the bad, have a way of sneaking up on us. Start getting ready now to have a major initiative (or two) all set to go for when things improve.

Down time is a smart time to lay the groundwork for greater success tomorrow. When the sun’ll come out.”

Robert Midddleton, Internet-based marketing coach, in his weekly e-zine opines:

“Certain words trigger certain feelings. We hear the word recession in the media over and over, and each time it triggers a little fear, a little uncertainty. Before you know it, many people are making the recession a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“The economy is experiencing a bout of flu. But like the flu, it will eventually pass with minimal side effects. If you look at it like that, no problem. You take some precautions, but you don't lapse into hopelessness and despair. You can treat this like a wake up call. You, personally, can make a difference for you, your family and business. You can choose what you think and do. You can take creative action.

"Part of this is taking control of your marketing. You can't leave it to chance anymore. Those who practice proven marketing strategies will attract more business than those who don't - especially when times are tight. Don't let yourself be dragged down by talk of a recession. You can use a downturn as an opportunity to sharpen your marketing skills.”

Then again, you can always heed the words of Steve Forbes, publisher of the iconic business magazine that bears his late father’s name. When asked recently in an interview with The Charlotte Observer, are we headed into a recession, he answered:

“No. As a matter of fact, after the first quarter, the economy should surprise people with its strength. The Federal Reserve is still pumping up boatloads of money. The second and third quarters should come in around 2.5 and 3 percent (GDP growth). Next year I think we’re going to have problems, because the Fed can’t keep inflating, but for now the world is not coming to an end.”

There, Grumpy. Are you smiling yet..?

Check this space again the first Tuesday of next month for another boatload of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips.

Joel Kweskin

Just Wondering Department: Great game Sunday. But watching all those commercials at $2.7 million a pop, I couldn’t help but think – with much talk during this presidential race period about issues like poverty and outrageous health care costs – wouldn’t just one of those advertisers have made quite a PR statement by telling the public that they planned NOT to advertise on the Super Bowl and instead were taking that money and making a “Super” contribution to an appropriate charity/charities to help those in need..?