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Falling behind are two words that no one wants to hear or read. It is especially true for those of us in the business of marketing. Thus, last Wednesday, when I read this Star Tribune Business section headline: “U.S. ‘falling behind’ on global trade,” I hit the pause button. Friday, a business commentator confirmed that the industrial sector of the U. S. economy is in a mini-recession, even though Friday’s employment numbers were positive.

INsight #1: Marketing teams need to be diligent, watchful and on edge. Contrary to some of the latest economic data, we may not be too far away from some kind of marketing implosion. If you thought you are ready for the 2020s, you should rethink your position. You may believe that these global economic tectonic shifts are not going to impact your brand. They will.

After the NATO meeting in London last week, I had a horrifying thought. What if all the countries in the world, announced they were going to stop doing business with America? That means no imports and exports. Think of what this not so impossible colossal global market shift could mean for American consumers and businesses: No foreign oil. No cheap goods and materials from China. No cheap (but pretty good) wines from Australia. No South American fruits and vegetables. No Danish cheese or German beer. And don’t forget about all the goods America currently ships around the world.

INsight #2: Laugh at this absurd scenario if you wish. This scenario is hitting close to home every day. We are already seeing the economic cracks in how we do business with the rest of the world based on the lack of a coherent trade policy and tariff wars. Those cracks are already having rippling economic impacts in multiple sectors of the economy. There are political, social and economic truths that could boil over at any time. Each one of them has the potential to negatively impact your brand. R U READY for the 2020s?

I have spent the last 20 years assisting clients to identify and fix their marketing gaps. My focus was to help them do a better job of communicating and rewarding their customers, while implementing new methods to attract and convert prospective customers. There are a multitude of communications gaps that require immediate attention, just to keep up with the marketing evolution that is driven by speed. This focus will not stop. There will be more speed, more technology and more ways to build brand stories in the 2020s.

Grabbing the next new technology may not be the solution to be prepared for the 2020s. Marketing teams need a future proof strategy. Otherwise, the situation will only erode further if brands are not prepared for what’s next. I have long argued that there are only three objectives marketing has to execute to be prepared:

  • Stay connected with your customers and prospective consumers.

  • Make it easy to do business with your brand.

  • Keep your eyes on the horizon (which may be closer than you think).

INsight #3: Brand marketing teams have to begin asking the tough “what if” questions if they are going to be prepared for the next global upheaval. Just recognizing that another recession could happen should be a driver in how brand teams identify current marketing gaps and how they fill them. This isn’t brain surgery, but it requires focus and discipline and thought-leadership that can navigate your marketing team to prepare for these turbulent marketplace events.

Be prepared. Being prepared means starting now by asking the first tough question. “In times of economic distress, can my customers get along without my brand?” I’m pretty confident most marketing teams have already forgotten the important lessons of the 2008 Great Recession. That’s probably okay because there will be a completely new set of rules in the 2020s, so I’ll ask it again. R U READY?

The EndGame: New thinking. New vision. New energy.

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