When stuck between a rock (the health system's need for profitable growth) and a hard place (the drive to cut costs), how do marketers prioritize marketing investments and gain organizational commitment to those investment decisions?
First, clean house. Use this opportunity as a time to take a stand and stop funding those activities that have no or minimal impact on strategic growth, customer acquisition, customer retention and financial performance. Specifically look at non-marketing activities that sap resources and work with your colleagues across the health system to eliminate or move those deeds elsewhere. Make sure your team is performing at its best; while it's always difficult to move people out, when you are being asked to do more with fewer FTEs, each has to be a stellar performer.
Second, use a marketing resource allocation methodology to prioritize limited marketing resources (dollars and FTEs) to those growth and marketing initiatives that have the best potential for improving business performance and positioning the organization for long-term success.
In prioritizing marketing resource investments, there are three basic decision points:
- What businesses, clinical programs or market expansion initiatives offer the best opportunity for growth and profitability?
- Within priority programs and service lines, what strategies and tactical initiatives will best achieve marketing goals?
- What infrastructure investments will be required to support effective growth and marketing management?
I know that some of the toughest issues marketers face during the long, cold winter of the budget season are cutting others' pet projects, sunsetting outdated communications tactics, navigating the politics of competing priorities, and so on and so on. Just saying 'no' has not been an option for some; a marketing resource allocation method can better arm the marketer with data-driven rationale for investment decisions.
Over the next couple of weeks, I'll explore the components and key questions to delve into for each of the three decision points listed above. In the meantime, let me know some of your toughest budget challenges -- together let's find a way to stop doing more and focus on achieving more.