It would appear that the country cannot resist talking itself into a recession. With the media constantly labeling everything as a “crisis” (the housing crisis, the mortgage lending crisis, the gas crisis), it’s a wonder anyone can take an honest look at our economy and see that things aren’t so bad—not perfect, but not the end of the world, either.

You expected a bad economy? Now you have it. So, what are you going to do about it?

I know of companies in this industry that are struggling. I also know of companies that are experiencing nice gains in market share and profits. Both scenarios are due to the current economy. Whether it’s a single market sector or the entire economy, one thing is true about times like this: some will go out of business and some will prosper. Which one you end up being is largely in your own control.

There will be those who will whine about how bad things are, raise their prices to a point where they start losing customers, cut expenses so the quality of their product or service suffers or they stop cultivating new business. Some of these folks won’t be in business a year from now.

Other folks will see the current economic uncertainty as a perfect opportunity to grab market share. Instead of whining, they will be out there building their businesses. Instead of raising prices, they will add to their product or service offerings, creating new revenue streams. They will be up-selling existing customers with additional products and services, and they will be actively seeking new clients. They will be careful about expense cutting, being sure to not cut expenses that are directly related to revenue. They will be coming up with new, creative ways to market their company.

One of the things companies often do when they need to tighten their belts a bit is to slash their advertising and marketing budget. Since magazine publishing is driven by advertising, I know a little bit about this. Yeah, yeah, I know it sounds self-serving, but one of the things I’ve learned from watching the ad practices of thousands of companies over the last 20-plus years is that significantly cutting your advertising and marketing budget is the very last thing you should do when times get a little tough. In fact, if you can find a way to allocate a little more to your marketing efforts, do it. While your competitors are running scared, cutting their budgets and essentially disappearing from the marketplace, you can step up your efforts and take away the market share they are losing. By expanding your marketing efforts (not just advertising, either), you will capture a large chunk of the available new business, and you will also be able to influence consumer confidence of the existing market. Even though others are faltering, your company is doing just fine.

So, which is it going to be? Are you going to simply react to market conditions, stick your head in the sand and try to ride this thing out as long as you can, or are you going to be proactive with new ideas and services that will allow you to use this economy as a springboard to higher profits?

One other thing I know is true—people are buying stuff. No matter what is happening in the economy, somebody is out there buying stuff today. What you should be doing right now is everything you can to make sure it’s your stuff they are buying.