I’m yet to meet a one armed economist! I long for the day! In fact I’m so preoccupied with this goal that I’d go out and search for one if I had the time. I admit my ambition is driven by one assumption which is, of course that a one armed economist couldn’t possibly say, “On the other hand?”

Every economist I’ve heard from, is an ‘accordionist’, – they play both ends against the middle. You know the type, “It’s going to be like this, but on the other hand it could be like that”. Whatever, they’re a dangerous breed! They mention ‘inflation’ and the world responds with panic; they talk up the stock exchange and the bull comes out of the pen. They’re influential and from a two handed perspective they’re never wrong – how could they be at ‘two bob each way?’

I’ve seen the credit squeezes – a few of them actually, and I’ve watched the stock exchange explode on Black Monday, 27th October 1987 and I know a fair bit about the ‘r’s – ‘recession and recovery’. In 1987 I was returning from a Melbourne business trip when the news broke that the r’s fell out of the stock exchange and while fighting my way through the Flight Deck Club at Tulamarine Airport it was obvious that some folks were a little absorbed with the TV sets. Like ants around a dead carcass they watched in stunned disbelief as the market fell, ‘Hindenburg’ style.

I hate crowded funerals and I wasn’t about to be a part of the mourning so I grabbed a Womens’ Day and started on the celebrity gossip. Next to me was a young, well dressed business man. I couldn’t resist. Why had he not joined the spectator fleet I asked? “Simple!” He responded, “Recession? I’ve decided not to take part!”

Since that day I’ve watched with interest the ‘response’ to recession and I’ve got some great news for those who are inspired enough to simply ‘not participate’. If you see your ‘r’s’ as an opportunity you’ll soon discover that your winning the battle for market share and if you think I’m full of human waste then think again. McGraw Hill Research conducted a study of US recessions and discovered that companies who maintained or increased their marketing spend in the 1981/82 recession experienced significantly higher sales growth than those who did not, and that ‘aggressive recession advertisers’ grew their revenue 2.5 times faster by 1985 than those who eliminated or decreased their spend. [ guerrilla guide – www.marketingmag.com.au]

Yes, you’d expect that sort of spin from me, I’m a marketer! I’d go fishing for a Moby Dick in a row boat and take my own tatare sauce… but – and it’s a big but, I’m also a strategist and the analyst in me tells me that my own experience demonstrates similar results to McGraw Hill’s finding.

Recession is a challenge but more importantly it’s an opportunity. While your competitors contract, you should be making hay. When recession hits, the media gets more desperate and the offers are scintillating, the markets open, the traffic jam and the clutter disappear and you’re left alone to kill the pig. While the market gets smaller it’s still there and they continue to buy and they buy what’s advertised because ‘top of mind’ works no matter what the environment.

This is no flash of inspiration; no blinding light on the road to Damascus; no epiphany, nor is it some kind of transcendental awareness. No, it’s common sense and you can keep your two handed economists, doomsday accountants and the like because their way means bad news for all. Get off your r’s and start with maintaining your budget commitment to marketing and when you see it’s a winner add another 10% for good measure. I’m off home to tune in to the ‘Business Channel’ and watch all those dead heads throughing themselves out of windows. Failure is daring not to try… you can bet your r’s on that!