In two days, leadership of the world’s most powerful economy and military will transition from one president to another. Since the Civil War, this tradition of transition has been marked by peacefulness, but not always without acrimony. We have changed presidencies in the midst of great philosophical differences, world wars, economic crises and disagreements over the direction and policies of the nation.
Just recall the uncertainty and fear the country was living through eight years ago, during the last such transition. Between October 9, 2007, and March 5, 2009, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped by more than 50 percent—from 14,164.44 to 6,594.440—erasing $11 trillion from the stock portfolios of investors. It has been called the Great Recession, and certainly was the longest, deepest recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Industries like healthcare or those that depend on global trade can’t be faulted for their concern. In any time of uneasiness, there is a temptation by companies to stand on the sidelines until the dust settles.
Yet history teaches us that those who continue to invest during periods like these end up being the winners. In a manner similar to Warren Buffett’s approach to investing (“Whether we’re talking about socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down.”), companies like Apple have used these moments when competitors hesitated to follow a different strategy: They continue supporting their brands. They recognize the active marketer grows market share in times of uncertainty.
Lesson for Marketers: Recall the Great Recession. By October 2013, the Dow had recovered to its pre-Recession high. In unpredictable times, when other companies stay quiet, the company that continues to speak will be heard more clearly. When others wait to lead, those who move forward will emerge from the period as leaders. Lead, don’t follow.
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