Recession, sell-offs, layoffs, closings, bailouts – is it a reason for businesses to despair or an opportunity for a second chance? It is often said that Americans are by far one of the most optimistic cultures on the globe, although it would not necessarily seem that way if you polled a few friends these days. But even with the prolonged negative news, at some point we just have to say, “Okay, enough of this, let’s pick up the pieces and get things back on track!” It does not mean instant success or magical profitability or zero unemployment. It just means putting on a new attitude and a creating a reason to keep plugging along. Most business owners have experienced painful operational trimming and tough decisions in the past year. I have heard clients and other business owners discuss their tactics to refocus, shift their processes and alter methods for business development to keep up with the new dynamics of doom and gloom. It is hard to keep the proverbial stiff upper lip when you are bombarded with messages about the seemingly endless consequences of financial failures. Marketing, like all service businesses, tends to be a line item that is initially vulnerable to being cut. However, strategic-thinking clients see it as a tool to help them achieve stability and loyalty even in challenging times. So, what does this mean for marketing and business? Absolutely everything. It means that once we recover from the constant barrage of this new world of cutbacks and lagging economic indicators, businesses have an opportunity to emerge stronger, more attentive, and more focused than ever before. Maybe budgets are being trimmed, but being cost-efficient and strategic in spending marketing dollars is always a good idea. Maybe it is a little harder to figure out what customers want now, but it is beneficial to determine what customers really need from you to help align your business and investment of time and resources. Focus, strategic planning, consistent messaging and dedication to customers– these are all cornerstones of successful marketing.