Looming fiscal cliff raises b-to-b concerns

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It would seem today that we are looking over the fiscal cliff staring into the fiscal abyss, and our elected leaders in Washington haven't figured out how to lead or to act rationally. They seem to have forgotten what is right for America and the American people.

This fiscal crisis is having a substantial impact already on businesses. I believe the fiscal cliff represents a turning point for the U.S. The question is, will we turn up or turn down? Our elected leaders are wasting valuable time talking to the media, rather than to each other.

This uncertainty is slowing manufacturing activity.

I delayed the preparation of my 2013 media plan and request for proposals from our trade media partners until late in December, thinking foolishly that somehow after the election, there would be more clarity about the direction of our economy.

Instead, I find myself trying to predict outcomes, and what I could or should be doing to help my company either grow in an expanding economy or prepare for the next recession.

I am hearing from a number of others in manufacturing who are very concerned about the likelihood for another recession, if a solution is not reached and we go over the cliff. As marketers, we find ourselves trying to figure out how to react to the situation rather than driving an effective proactive plan for next year.

Given the broad disparity in potential outcomes, what message planning can we undertake today? Tomorrow? Or until Washington decides? I wonder how many other business plans have been impacted by this situation. What do our marketing messages and investments need to reflect going into 2013? Is anyone else struggling to develop two plans or alternatives to account for either outcome?

I believe there are numerous reasons to be optimistic about the U.S. in the midterm, however.

Our financial sector is recovering, and the debt situation is much improved. Inflation is likely under control, and our dependency on foreign sources of energy is declining. Innovation is high, our global competitiveness is improving. Reshoring manufacturing is a real phenomenon.

Finally, we are seeing signs of a potential housing recovery. I have to believe that reasonable people will come to a rational solution to our fiscal and policy crisis. We need to rise above the petty politics and keep our economic recovery moving forward.

But I am going to hedge my bets, just in case. What scenario are you planning for?

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