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Making a Fortune in a Recession - Old Masters Series

Published by: David Garfinkel on 03-08-2021

Today we’re back at it in the Old Masters Series. We’re going to talk about how to make a fortune during a recession. Now a lot of people think now is the worst time to make a lot of money, but it all depends on your perspective.

People who are good at spotting opportunities learn how to adjust the way they look at things depending upon the environment. When the storm clouds of recession and depression show up, they use it to their advantage. Not to take advantage of helpless people, but to recognize the opportunities in the changed circumstances.

Bill Benton was such a man. He was 30 years old when the Great Depression hit in 1929, but he didn’t let that get in his way of becoming a millionaire by age 35. He saved companies with his unique ad strategies. And he even bought one for peanuts that later was earning him $2 million a year.

Now let’s talk about you.

Times are tough and you have to make a choice — do you want to go along with the doom and gloom thinking of the naysayers, or see this as a legitimate opportunity?

Now, to be sure, things aren’t easy and right now a lot of people are in such bad shape that they can’t take advantage of opportunities, or create new ones.

If that’s you, I understand. But if you even see a glimmer of possibility for building business during hard times, today we’re going to look at someone who did it and see what lessons we can draw from his amazing story — and use today.

That person is Bill Benton. He founded his own ad agency just before the great crash of 1929, and emerged very wealthy and powerful, right in the middle of the Great Depression.

In an interview Studs Terkel’s great book “Hard Times,” Benton refers to what his friend the economist Beardley Ruml said:

“In all catastrophes, there is the potential of benefit.”

We’ll look at how you can do that in today’s show.

I’ve boiled down what I’ve learned to five principles of how Bill Benton did so well during the Great Depression, and we take a deep dip into each one:

They are:

1) Ignore the doom and gloom

2) Feet on the ground, eyes on the future

3) Use the power of great content to multiply the results from advertising

4) Make direct response advertising your foundation, not your skyscape

5) Imagination really is more powerful than knowledge — but first you gotta have the knowledge.

Books referenced in the show:

The Lives of William Benton, by Sidney Hyman

Hard Times, by Studs Terkel

Keywords: copywriting masters

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