Various sectors of the American economic picture have been described lately as "soft," "bumpy," or according to Pundit Mr. C. Little, "the sky is falling!"
The truth is that everyone's situation is different, and we can't guide you about broad economic affairs in the nation. But we do know that when economic anxiety goes up, some professional organizations think it's a signal to pull down the marketing flag and quickly head for the sidelines.
What's not well known is that your marketing-savvy competitors actually want you to be scared off the field. The better course (although counterintuitive) is to stay in the game.
It's the secret that successful healthcare businesses don't want you to know. Here's why...
The most productive and cost-effective marketing opportunity is when there's little or no competition. And when some organizations duck-and-cover at the sound of uncomfortable economic news, it opens the playing field for the smart marketers. It's a rich opening to reach and attract the patients who are still seeking healthcare services, to protect your patient base and to build a larger market share overall.
Healthcare needs are not economy-driven. The demand for healthcare services is based mainly on personal need, and regardless of the economy there are always people who require your services. This market exists even if the road is "bumpy" for some, and it's a good time to be delivering value in the community.
Understand what's real, what's local and what's drama. Believe it or not, some news media can be overly general and slightly sensational. Pause for a reality check and understand how news about the economy is actually impacting your community (or not). Some segments of the community might have a greater degree of need at this time. Other segments may be unaffected altogether.
Marketing is communicating with the community. The healthcare business that abruptly silences its voice is totally and suddenly invisible to people in need—and that may seem like a disappearing act to others. Marketing works best with consistency and reliability.
Be alert to new opportunity. Economic change can also mean social change. Some people might be relocating—so look at your marketing by geography. Or some procedures or services may be in greater demand, so consider marketing messages that adjust your patient mix. When it's appropriate, target the specific audience where and when you can answer the greatest or strongest need with your services.
Maintain or increase the budget. Although cutting or eliminating the budge "feels" like you're preserving resources, you are likely giving up more in lost revenue and opportunity. Every dollar wisely invested has a stronger Return-on-Investment potential (when the competition is standing-down). Advertisers who increase their budget in a soft economy increase their market share.
And as an added bonus, media costs might be available at bargain rates. (If there are fewer advertisers, what you have been spending on newspaper or other advertising could likely buy a great deal more than ever.) There's a good possibility that media rates and services are negotiable.
Have and use your marketing plan. If you don't have a marketing plan, let's talk about creating one for you. If you have a plan, we can guide you on how adjustments can boost the results. In good times or otherwise—the purpose of a marketing plan is to generate the maximum, cost-effective bottom-line results and Return-on-Investment. A hard-working marketing plan is your most valuable defense if economic times are soft.
The practice that stops marketing at the sight and sound of discouraging economic news gains nothing. Period. Assuming a "defensive" posture on the sidelines is empty silence that allows your patient base to erode—most likely by people going to the competitive organization that is still playing hard.
Instead of throwing in the towel, let's talk about ways to maintain or increase your marketing efforts. It's an opportunity for your practice to stand out and capture the market share rewards. Turn off the news, put away your umbrella and give us a call.