Business “Don’ts” for Difficult Times

You can’t open a newspaper, flip on the television, or open an Internet page these days without seeing something about the current economic crisis.

When all the media trumpet the same tune, that’s supposed to indicate a trend reversal in the making. So does that mean we’ve hit bottom and things can only get better? Um… maybe not this time.

2009 probably WILL deliver a lot more rough stuff. Many, especially business owners, are at a loss for what to do to prepare.

BusinessWeek recently had some suggestions. And while I’m usually skeptical of populist media advice, these tips seem pretty sensible.

Here’s the “Cliffs Notes” version:

1. Don’t panic. You can’t sit still, but you also don’t want to swerve like a drunk on ice skates. Cycles happen. Sometimes they happen hard, but we’ll come back around eventually.

2. Cut fat, not muscle. And marketing is muscle. A slowdown is the ideal time to snatch up market share.

3. Don’t water down your sales message to “go wide.” When you’re desperate for customers, it’s easy to try to widen your market appeal. Stick to your focus. Just get better at it.

4. Watch out for “discount training.” If you keep offering “special deals,” eventually the deals are no longer special. And all you’re doing is training your customers to learn to wait for the next deal instead of buying right now.

5. Don’t ignore the facts, just have a plan. You can’t wish away the economic crisis by ignoring it. Mention it to your employees, but do so in the context of showing leadership on how to get past it.

[Ed. Note: To get copywriting expert John Forde’s wisdom and insights into copywriting (and much more), sign up for his free e-letter, Copywriter’s Roundtable, at Or send an e-mail to Get a free report about 15 deadly copy mistakes and how to avoid them when you sign up today.]

Comment on this article

John Forde's 15-year career as a top copywriter started as an understudy of Bill Bonner and Michael Masterson. Since then, John has written countless winning controls, has generated well over $30 million in sales, and has successfully launched dozens of products. He's also worked three years as a financial journalist and has written books on wealth building and health, as well as more than 250 articles on copywriting for his popular ezine, The Copywriter's Roundtable. John has taught copywriting in private seminars and conferences in Paris, London, Bonn, Chicago, Buenos Aires, Baltimore, and Warsaw. He currently lives and works from Paris, France.