Thursday, September 18, 2008

Attack now.

“Markets in Turmoil” reads the boldfaced headline of USA Today. As I step on the elevator, I look up from the paper and see two attorneys entering. They are shaking their heads and looking at each other in worried silence. “How’s it going?” I say. “Not good,” the senior of the two responds. “Depressed,” he says. “I’m sorry to hear that. Did something happen to you or your family?” I wonder aloud. “No. Something happened to the economy. It’s depressed,” he says. Jeez. Why take the elevator, I think. Why not use the window? Professional advisors like us can’t mope our way out of the current economic situation. We can market ourselves out of it.

That’s what the smartest companies are doing. Creative Growth Group, along with the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Vantedge Group and Business Wise, just completed a study of demand for professional services among Atlanta companies. Results will be released in October but I’ll give you a head’s up on one of the findings. The largest expected increase in spending on professional services firms over the next 12 months will be for marketing services. You can’t expense-cut your way to success long term. You can sell yourself to success.

I sure hope that the executives at AIG’s, Lehman’s and Merrill Lynch’s competitors are already in the process of aggressively marketing to those faltering financial giants’ clientele. When Arthur Andersen imploded, the big winners were those that gobbled up the clients and talent of the former market leading accountancy. Do not retreat. Attack.

“Disruptions in the business environment cause economic shifts that destabilize industries, companies, and even countries. They allow new entrants or forward-thinking established players to introduce innovations—in products, markets, or processes—that transform the way companies do business and consumers behave.” - Lynda M. Applegate is the Henry R. Byers Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.

Now is your time. Move forward. Business development is more important now than ever before.

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