Rob Frankel - Branding Expert

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How Recession Affects the Web.

Well, it's damn good thing for the news industry that the American forces are steaming their way over to Iraq. Not because any more or fewer people will be freed as a result, but more because a lot of editors will finally have something to write about. After all, it was starting to get pretty slow around the news department.

At this point, it looks like President Clinton is going to escape any real serious threat, Monica Lewinsky is gaining weight faster than Mike Tyson. And Mark McGwyer's memorable season is indeed already a memory.

When news gets really slow, the pundits start crawling out of the hovels. They expound on anything and everything that can possibly make a headline. This season, everyone is jumping on the coming recession.

Is there going to be a recession? Hey, I could lie to you and say I know. But I don't. And neither do the dopes who supposedly are paid to study these things. The truth is that if someone panics on Wall Street, the lemmings stampede right behind. One self-fulfilling prophecy tips over another and pretty soon you get the economy you imagined.

But that's not why I'm writing.

The real reason why I'm writing is that you should always prepare yourself for a recession, regardless whether it's coming or not. And the way you should prepare yourself? Of course! Make sure you're branded.

On this morning's taping of LOG ON USA (Jaclyn Easton's nationally syndicated radio show), we were talking about how a recession would affect the web. And there's no doubt in my mind what would happen if a really sever recession hit the U.S.: The big boys would pull their ad budgets off the web in a heartbeat. The pundits would predict the end of e-commerce as we know it. And every single Internet related stock would drop like a brick.

Or would they? Not in my book. Here's what -- in all my pundit splendor -- would happen:

If a recession really hit hard, you bet your mouse pad that the big boys would run like rabbits off the web. They'd stop all their advertising and "return to a focus on their core business." And because so many pundits would pick up on the negativity, the papers would be filled with stories about how the Internet never fully lived up to its promise, which in turn would hammer internet-based stock prices.

But just ask any running back about his favorite wish, and you'd see that if those events were to occur, that would leave people like you and me a clear, open field on the web. We'd be doing even more of the same cost-effective business we'd always be doing --and the really well-branded among us would be doing even better.

If a down market really hits, people who already have bought their PC's and monthly access will be looking even harder for bargains. Their increased motivation will actually increase sales for those of us who have established our operations online. And those among us who have invested resources in their brands are going to do the best, because they'll be in more of the places where these highly-motivated consumers scour about in search of the perfect deal.

So where does this leave us? I suppose I could make some oblique reference to finding a silver lining in even the darkest cloud, but I'd rather end on a note that's less philosophical and more utilitarian:

Don't believe everything you read in the papers.

Rob Frankel

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