Dear CMO:

Don’t read the paper. Forget looking at Drudge. Skip the news entirely. They’re all going to tell you that the world is going straight to hell without the benefit of the handbasket that we paid 0% down on only a few short years ago.

You can win at a micro level, regardless of the macro trend.

Here’s the thing: I work with a handful of clients, some early and some not-so-early stage, and none of them have 75% share in a saturated market. None are on Capitol Hill, refreshed from the quick jaunt on their corporateĀ Falcon Jet, asking for more money than you or I can even comprehend. In short, any of them could double in revenue, triple in NIBT, and stick a hose in their competitors’ mouths while they do it — regardless of the state of the union. Because now is a great time to pound your competitors. Why? Because your competitors are probably reading the paper and piling the sandbags up around the foxhole.

I’m not suggesting that tightened credit, panicky retailers and scared investors aren’t going to affect you. They will, just as they will affect your competitors. And customers. And creditors, come to think of it. But if these forces are equally spread out amongst all of us, then it’s a question of where you choose to focus your strategic efforts — your positioning, your messaging, your communications and outreach, your expansion plans, your business proposition — that will make the biggest impact.

  1. Show how your solution gives your customers more flexibility. Show how it saves time, or money, or is a substitute for a more expensive alternative. We all want more options right now.
  2. Show how you can not only understand your customer’s concerns, but can help them deal with them faster and more effectively than ‘business as usual.’
  3. In the face of contraction, how can you expand? Can you open up Australia? Germany? Can you put more feet on the street using a sales agent model rather than weighing yourself down with W2’s? Can you help someone else do all of the above and be the new distributor or sales agent without having to invest a substantial amount? How can you give yourself more options?
  4. How can you push your message out to your customers more efficiently? What do your influencers need to know right now that is different than what they needed to know before the economic wheels flew off the economy? In times of over-hyped and over-blown market rhetoric, someone with actual knowledge can gain a huge amount of credibility by teaching the truth.

I don’t want to come across as all-knowing in the face of this current situation — I have as much a chance in this game as everyone else does, and only time will tell how we all fare — but I’m betting on the above couple of points. Inflexibility seems like a bad bet right now. Being an omnivore is probably a better bet after the meteor strike than being a specialist.