The terrorists tried to strike at us in two ways. 1) The political structure (The White House), although they failed and "settled" for our defense structure via the Pentagon, and our financial structure via the World Trade Towers. We have the power to show them that they cannot strike us down so easily. The military part will get handled over time. But we can do something about the economy starting today. Four things come to mind:
1) Don't sell off our stocks for fear of a crash The stock exchange has evolved over the past few years through the power of the individual investor. The Internet companies crashed because the individual investor lost faith in their ability to deliver earnings. Once these companies went public, they no longer had the luxury that the VC's gave them of three-year payouts. The individual investor wanted to see the results now. And they made the market change. The same can be true now. The average American has the power to keep the stock market at status quo or even move it upwards. There is a movement on the Internet that says we should all buy at least one share on the market today. Not a bad idea.
2) Spend ad budgets, don't make a downturn a self fulfilling prophesy Both the Conference Board and the MPA have evidence that a slowdown in the economy follows a downturn in advertising spending by about six months. Ad budgets have been reduced this year and, lo and behold, we are about to see our second quarter in a row of negative growth (recession). Now, there is talk of a consumer "pause" that will affect the profitability of many companies. So, the real test for these companies is whether they believe in advertising as a long-term investment, not only in their company but also in the economy. Knee jerk reactions such as sitting on a budget or cutting it back will only do harm. It is time for those who say they believe in branding to step forward, and put their money where their mouth is.
3) Redouble our business efforts Some this weekend say that we have to "go back to business as usual" starting today. I don't know what usual is any more. I do know that business has been getting increasingly harder since the early 90's. The ever growing amount of information that a manager has to handle and the related decrease in the amount of time given to make a decision or analyze the data has made business much more difficult over the last decade. We have had to live through boom and crash (one is as difficult as the other), moving from one crisis to the other. But, we do know how to do business to a degree of intensity that is known nowhere in the world. Now is the time to show it.
4) Be consumers I am not suggesting that we all go out and blow our savings. We all feel a little conservative right now. But you could spend your tax refund now rather than three months from now. And, even if you are not going to schedule that weekend this winter to Cabo San Lucas or Bermuda, maybe it is time to take a driving vacation and spend your money here. If you want some place warm, try Florida or Hawaii.
Is it going to be easy short term? Of course not. But we ARE the strongest nation on earth. And we know how to get things done. Let's show the world.
- David L. Smith is President of Mediasmith, Inc., the Integrated Solutions Media Agency based in San Francisco and New York. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org