We all know the drill. Volumes soften and the first order of action is to slash marketing expenditures. Not that managing costs isn’t important – it’s essential – but reactionary and indiscriminate cost cutting is a mistake according to Harvard Business Review authors John Quelch and Katherine Jocz.
Instead, now is the time to reprioritize your marketing investments – focus on brand building, adjust your product mix, deliver exceptional customer service, and reexamine customer needs. In How to Market in a Downturn, Quelch and Jocz suggest that “companies put customer needs under the microscope and take a scapel rather than a cleaver to the budget.” This means developing a solid understanding of how demand patterns are shifting – both short term and long term – and adjusting strategies, tactics and offerings in response.
The question for healthcare marketers to ponder is whether demand is simply being deferred until better times, or whether consumer values and purchasing behaviors will be more permanently altered by this deep and prolonged recession (think ‘depression era’ consumers). Either way requires focused efforts by marketing executives to identify emerging opportunities and put successful customer acquisition strategies in play.