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I hope you were paying attention…

On my way to the office this morning, I noticed that the amount of fuel in my tank would probably leave me stranded short of my destination, which warranted my immediate attention and a nearby fuel pump. While waiting in line to pay at the station, I glanced at the magazines resting by the register. Expectedly overwhelmed by the number of Michael Jacksons staring back at me,  I was relieved that every news outlet has been broadcasting this event non-stop . Had I just recovered from a month-long coma, this would be news.

My eyes quickly rested on this week’s copy of Newsweek, which boldly proclaims that “The Recession Is Over!”. My immediate reaction, “It’s about time”, was accidentally spoken out loud. This won me some strange looks from the cashier and customers in front of me. 

This thought stuck with me for the rest of my commute. After thousands of businesses tasted bankruptcy this year, and thousands more shut their doors, I can only pray that there were lessons pulled from this experience. I picked up a few.

Newsweek: August 9, 2009
1. Always compete. This is the most important, yet least profound, point of the bunch. Circuit City and Linens N’ Things crumbled because they became option #2 in their consumers’ eyes and did little to set themselves ahead. Even before things got tough, those and many other companies grew complacent and lost their edge. Now they’re gone, far far away, right there with Elvis and the Dodo.

2. If your business doesn’t immediately address a need, create that need. A great example of this is Apple, who just recorded their best non-holiday quarter in company history. Now, let’s think about that for a minute. Apple doesn’t sell a single computer for less than $1800. However, by creating the illusion of necessary convenience in their latest iPhone apps, the recession did little to slow them down.

3. As with turtles, if you stay in your shell for too long, you will die
. When you’re starting to have a hard time with getting and retaining business, your first course of action should not be to eliminate your communication with your clients. When you close that communication, rest assured that your clients will do the same. Your marketing and client outreach has to keep going, especially when the competition is in hiding and advertising costs are low. It comes down to overcoming fear and pressing forward.

By no means do I want this to come across like I’m an expert at running a business. I admit, I was tempted to surf the classifieds for a while because, frankly, I didn’t know if my efforts would pay off or whether or not ImagineDesign would make it through. Fortunately, according to Newsweek, it did. Business is now picking up as I hope it is with everyone. My greatest hope now is that we remember the mistakes that led to the past year so we don’t have to go through that again.

Patrick King

Patrick is the Founder of Imagine and advisor to places on brand strategy and creative. His insights have been published in Inc. Magazine, SmartCEO, Washington Business Journal, The Washington Post, and Chief Marketer, among other publications, and shared at conferences throughout the US. He also has an amazing sock collection.


  • Yet again, well said Patrick. To the point and time to pause for thought. I’m not too sure it’s over yet though – it may have bottomed but my experience (in Ireland) is that businesses still have a way to go.
    We have never worked so hard, and smartly, and flexibly, and still very little return. Maybe, when the battleship does manage to turn in the bath-tub!
    But until then, we will not ease off the pedal.

  • Good insights, Patrick. For me, it’s keep putting one foot in front of the other, and stay positive in thought and action. Sour begets sour. Being upbeat encourages others to do the same. Helping someone out is a good thing, too. Recessions are temporary. I have “no obsession with recession”.

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