Turning the Crisis Around: Five Recipes


The main, indisputable ingredient of the following recipes is the client. Any self-respecting company, organization or institution should never allow its key asset to go to waste. Therefore, following the indications for use is highly recommendable. Let us have a closer look:

1. Resilience and client-centric. The current market situation is exceptional, requires a new approach and, sometimes, anomalous and hasty decisions. From a marketing standpoint, the plan of action of any company should be based on resilience. One must be prepared to manage adversity, and in doing so the first key element is to reinforce customer loyalty. By focusing on our clients and knowing that they are central to our activity, we will be able to survive at moment when attracting new customers is a difficult task.

The expression "client-centric" is always somewhat ambiguous; therefore, to make things clear, I recommend that you always include service excellence as regards your staff and the customer experience, together with internal customer management, as well as taking special care with the ambience, environment, packaging and experiential sensations. In this way, the promises of experience and quality at a reasonable price will be kept.

2. Differentiation and hyper-specialization. In my opinion, it is vital to be acknowledged for being a specialist "in something." It is unnecessary to work with very exclusive services or products, since one can be a specialist in "being a generalist" if the focus is on standing out from the crowd, putting the accent on differentiation (for instance, a distribution company specializing in extended opening times). This will directly affect product management. From now on, we will see smaller but much more specialized portfolios (with regard to sectors, products, services, client segments, etc.).

A client specialist ? A product specialist? A specialist in both? It would seem that being a Jack of all trades and a master of none is now a thing of the past. Mind you, there will always be an exception to the rule, someone who discovers The Super Product, the equivalent of the iPad in each sector (a real pushover because there would not be any need for segmenting!).

3. Strategic price management, low cost and revenue management. In my view, it is necessary to know the new pricing rules conditioned by the low cost and low price phenomena, regardless of whether or not you adopt the price-centric philosophy and management method. Although pricing strategies are outside the sphere of influence of marketing, they do indeed have a direct impact on marketing. The strategic price-centric approach will only be successful if purchases are well managed and if we know how to make the most of the data and characteristics obtained from our clients so as to guide our future actions and pricing policies.

By the second decade of this century, we will see how revenue management becomes a key tool for companies. The essence of this new concept is in understanding the perception clients have of our product and, from there, clarify the guidelines of our pricing strategy. Success will be measured by our capacity to establish a fair price, while taking care of the value perceived through brand warmth.

4. Brand management. Brand management ranges from private brands to lovemarks. Currently, there is room for both. In fact, there is only room for both. There is no place for that which is neither one nor the other. Nowadays, if you want successful sales, it is necessary to provide the best value for money (especially since prices are falling). If this is not the case, then it will be essential to be able to provide or provoke emotions with your products or services. Clients’ purchasing decisions are not always rational; on many occasions, the decision is based on feelings or desires that are more powerful than reason. Therefore, we should try to incorporate emotions in our products and services; we will certainly notice the difference.

5.- Innovation in relational communication

a. Public relations 2.0: at a moment when televisión programmes can be watched anywhere on an iPad or on a laptop, it is vital to give old PR approaches an overhaul. It is now necessary to rethink the way we advertise and, probably, steer it towards a mixed genre encompassing the Web 2.0 and the media or traditional channels. The aim is to transmit a message that, above all, contributes to reinforcing our reputation and credibility in the eyes of our clients.

b. Online and offline social networks: we cannot ignore other factors such as street marketing, product placement and advergaming, among others, which will form an essential part of our advertising strategy (as already mentioned, focused on building reputation).

c. Sales promotion: we are currently living, and will continue to live, in the golden days of sales promotion and demand incentivation. We have to learn more about our clients, about how they relate to one another, about their needs and desires… Our only chance of generating sales will be to implement adequate product or service sales promotions via the most suitable channels.

d. Relational hyper-segmentation: the client relationship model will be more segmented than ever. It is quite foreseeable that there will be campaigns for the Generation X, marketing for children, for techies… but, above all, there will be marketing campaigns keyed to seniors. Over 55s, with their greater financial stability and their habitual needs, could become the client type targeted by many companies.

Lastly, a warning: we are living in turbulent, unstable times, when everything happens very quickly, which call for very speedy decisions in the realm of situational management. Alerts and early alarms as regards what is happening in the market in general and in our client base in particular will become more important than ever in the history of marketing. Hence, the role of new market research approaches now becomes decisive and we should not forget to pay them the attention that they deserve.

So, taking into account these five recipes, are we capable of emerging from our own particular crisis? I, for one, am sure we can.

About the author

A sociologist, with a master degree in marketing and a degree in human resources, Alcaide has worked for over 100 companies in the Spanish service sector, including banking (La Caixa, Bancaja, Caja Madrid, and Ibercaja, among others), insurance companies (Asisa, Adeslas, Groupama, La Alianza), undertakers (Serveis Funeraris Integrals), distribution (Eroski), public transport (Madrid Metro), mutual insurance companies (Egarsat), the public sector (Segovia City Council), agriculture(CCAE, Coato), and industry (Consonni, Biurrarena, Matz Erreka).

Alcaide is director of www.marketingdeservicios.com, keynote speaker and writer, having published several books on marketing, services and client management, two of which, Marketing de Acción (LID, 2010) and Client Loyalty (ESIC, 2010), were published in 2010.