Merriam-Webster's dictionary states that a black hole is a celestial object that has a gravitational field so strong that light cannot escape it and that it is believed to be created especially in the collapse of a very massive star. Today's economic climate pretty much fits that description in my opinion and it is hard to not caught up in all the swirling bad news that surrounds it day in and day out. The 24-hr news continuously reports that this company is laying off thousands of people, that company is laying off thousands more, the other one is going bankrupt, and it seems to be an unstoppable force with no end in sight. And it's not like they are wrong - it is all true. Thousands of dollars are being lost, jobs are dropping out of sight, and people are feeling a strong pinch. What started as just a housing market problem has leaked over into the entire fabric of the American economy and there is not a sector that is feeling the pinch (with the exception of the dastardly Exxon Mobil).
The thing is, I think this is going to be a paradigm shift in the spending of the typical American consumer and that business needs to adjust to this new environment if it is ever to escape the black hole that it currently is in. I don't know if regular marketing ploys are going to work anymore and I believe that social media utilizing Web 2.0 marketing tactics is the way to go. It just makes sense. I am constantly bombarded day in and day out with advertisements toting how such and such product is going to change my life. And it's everywhere - TV, internet, magazines, billboards, vehicles, emails, sporting events, movies - the list goes on and on. Honestly, where can you go where you are not marketed to? And now, not only am I tired of being constantly sold to, but I don't even have the money in my pocket to buy what I am being promised will revolutionize my life. If I spend my hard-earned dollars, it is going to be on something that I am looking for and find attractive. I want to be in the driver's seat, not riding shotgun.
That is why I believe that Web 2.0 is the way the consumer is going to go. Web 2.0 is all about information and the onus is put on the consumer's own search and research. Selling your product is not going to be about the coolest ad - it is going to be about where I can find more information and what other people are saying about the product. And the companies that can figure this out are going to be the ones that make it through this black hole.
Because this isn't a real black hole - there will be an end at some point in time. But there is going to be a lot of pain and suffering by a lot of people for a while. And more companies and jobs will fall victim to bankruptcy and liquidation before we reach the bottom. For example, even with the complete devastation in the housing market, it is amazing that there is still a glut of builders and trade contractors out there - there has not been enough consolidation, mergers, and acquisitions happening in light of the economic conditions that we are facing. This will have to happen if we are ever going to get out of this mess.
It will be interesting to see what happens over the course of this year, both personally and from an outsider's perspective. In the meantime, I am taking a lot of deep breaths and remembering that there is a sovereign God who loves me and will take care of me, if I truly believe in Him and His promises.