I was asked recently by a newspaper ad rep what should businesses be doing with their advertising message during these challenging times. My advice was clear. This is not about selling. This is about reaching out to people and letting them know you care and you are there to help them.

The interesting thing about that advice, it is not different than my advice to businesses before September 11th. The point is - exceptional customer service is recession proof. If you are looking for solutions for your business, look at your internal systems and customer service processes first.

People need to feel taken care of more than ever. Many of my clients are busier now than ever before. Why? Because, they are focused on taking care of their customers better than anyone else.

Call and check in with every customer in your database. When was the last time they heard from the owner/president personally? Offer to take them to lunch or a special discount. Ask how they are doing. Check in with them frequently by phone, email or post cards.

Throw an open house or a party and donate the proceeds to a local charity. Get more visible in the community by joining more organizations and attending more events. I am busier than I have ever been, but I am out there more than ever.

This is our opportunity to reinvent our businesses and ourselves. Assess your advertising, your networking and the time you are investing into projects. What is working and what is not working? Change anything that is not getting results for your business. Stay positive when you?re talking to everyone you meet. What we have control over is how we react to situations we have no control of.

I encourage you to not buy into the recession mentality and go out and make a difference in your customer?s lives and your community. There is business being done right now and you have the opportunity to reap the rewards.