Seize the opportunity

Published on .

The party's over. Jobs and ad budgets are being cut. But you know that. Here's the challenge: Find your opportunity. Some marketers, media, agencies and product categories are in position to clean up in a down market. Other companies will smartly use this timeout to reset the stage for when their markets revive. While your rivals wring their hands about the end of life as we knew it, .

This is not meant as an uplifting comment about the economy. The problems, excesses and inefficiencies are real. It would be no surprise to see the first quarter show negative growth (a positively fine euphemism) in gross domestic product. Ditto for the quarter just begun. That would add up to recession.

For some, bad times will be good. More power to those with something that sells in tougher times. (As the stock market slumped March 28, we noticed one stock jumped 10%: Service Corp. International, the nation's largest chain of funeral homes. A nice business for the end of life as we knew it.)

But you don't have to be at death's door to seize the day. We're reminded how, in World War II, then-giant Montgomery Ward hunkered down for more economic tumult while scrappy Sears, Roebuck & Co., betting on a post-war boom, used the time to prepare for prosperity. That's an extreme example. But the lesson remains.

In every line of business-from retail to package goods, from ad agencies to magazines-someone will lead the way by figuring out what can be done in tough times. When we emerge from the downturn, some No. 2 brands will have positioned themselves to displace No. 1's that left themselves vulnerable.

Now is the time for marketers, media properties and agencies to stare down the downturn and prepare for the upturn. Many executives will only quiver and kvetch. That's their problem. That's your opportunity.

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