One big question (Steve McKee)

58042149 Drew's Note:  As I try to do every Friday, I'm pleased to bring you a guest post.  Meet another  thought leader who shares his insights via the blogosphere. So without further ado…Steve McKee.  Again. Enjoy!

The economy stinks. Everyone knows it.

A recent survey commissioned by American Express says that 59% of corporate CFOs expect their revenue to either be flat or go backwards in 2009.  Meeting a company leader who actually expects his or her organization to grow this year is the exception, not the rule.

As such, it’s safe to say we’re all struggling with the economic tsunami swirling around us. And we’re all wondering what to do about it. I’d like to suggest one big question for each of us to consider.

In my book, When Growth Stalls, I characterize external, uncontrollable events such as the current recession as “market tectonics.” Just as plate tectonics determine when and where the ground is going to shake (from which nobody is exempt—an important point), market tectonics are events with which every company in this interconnected economy must deal. Nobody gets a pass.

So here’s the question: is your branding and marketing effort strong enough to withstand the tremors, or has the economic earthquake spawned by the financial crisis revealed fissures in your marketing foundation?

If the former, your task is to do the best you can to ride things out—conserving cash without cutting off the fuel to your economic engine. It’s an art, but it’s manageable. If the latter, your task is somewhat more difficult. But you may look back on this time as a key turning point in your company’s history.

Sometimes difficult events end up becoming the biggest blessings.

While all of your competitors hunker down to ride things out, you can use this time to rethink your value equation. It may be that it’s off by just a few degrees, or it may be that you need to make wholesale changes.

But just as when the yellow caution flag comes out on a racetrack it allows the cars in the back to catch up with those in front, this period of economic recession may give you the time—not to mention the kick in the pants—to strengthen your brand proposition. 

Steve McKee is president and founding partner of McKee Wallwork Cleveland, an award-winning marketing firm that helps companies get and stay on the growth curve. He writes a monthly column for and speak to a variety of organizations and corporations on the topic of stalled growth and how to turn it around.

Purchase his new book When Growth Stalls to learn more.


Every Friday is "grab the mic" day.  Want to grab the mic and be a guest blogger on Drew's Marketing Minute?  Shoot me an e-mail.

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