How to Pivot Your Healthcare Marketing Plan During COVID-19

by | Mar 26, 2020 | Content Strategy

Consumer trends toward remote work, increased web consumption and dependence on e-commerce are accelerating in response to COVID-19 — here’s how healthcare marketing can meet existing demand and plan for the new normal.

We knew Amazon, Walmart and other retail brands were coming after our customers. We suspected the upcoming presidential election might affect the future of the ACA and accelerate the shift from volume to value. We've likely experienced the impact of industry consolidation in changing the healthcare landscape. 

We couldn't have predicted the speed, scope and severity of a pandemic.

It’s impossible to pinpoint how and when a crisis will happen, but as usual marketers are rising to the occasion and rallying their colleagues and communities to foster public health and flatten the curve. 

So, should your healthcare marketing plan pivot during the COVID-19 era and other times like these?  

While content remains king, the way that marketers plan, create and deploy that content is changing at a rapid pace. Consumers and workers are spending more time online as they seek health and safety information.

Below, we've detailed four ways that we’re helping healthcare organizations adjust their content marketing strategies to educate and engage consumers and healthcare providers in the current climate.

The Pivot: Brand Building

Brand positioning during this time is crucial. Now is the time to double down on sharing stories of caregivers and other team members investing time away from their own families—often putting themselves in harm’s way—to treat patients and protect the community.

To humanize your brand as a leading voice in the community, feature your physicians offering advice to their colleagues throughout the organization as well as consumers. If it feels authentic to your brand, you can even consider finding creative ways to show how your caregivers are finding joy in the crisis.

When promoted on social media and tagged appropriately (e.g. #stayhomeminnesota), these narratives help flatten the curve, lift spirits and create an emotional connection with your brand that will last long after the pandemic has passed.

The Pivot: New Patient Acquisition

From a patient acquisition perspective, more significant adjustments might be appropriate based on your organization's capacity and protocols.

As Medicare's coverage expansion improves access to a broader range of services without having to travel and CMS urges hospitals to delay non-essential elective procedures, we’re helping clients create content and campaigns promoting telehealth and virtual care options.

The same campaign methodology used to find, engage and convert service line prospects translates perfectly to a telehealth campaign. 

The Pivot: Meeting Existing Demand

While the coronavirus is impacting daily lives nationwide and commanding the lion's share of media attention, it's important to remember there are consumers who still need non-COVID information and treatment.

To meet this existing demand and fill the funnel for future encounters, consider shifting digital marketing dollars from conversion-focused ads to top-of-the-funnel campaigns that create awareness and preference for your services. Since many of your potential patients can't get in front of doctors, now is a great time to redirect search traffic and promote tools like health risk assessments that help community members understand their needs and plan for the future. 

For example, a bariatric campaign encouraging prospects to attend a seminar can pivot to drive those same prospects to download a patient guide. This "softer close" allows you to collect their information and build a pipeline of candidates who are engaged with your organization and can be nurtured to other goal conversions when the time is right.

The Pivot: Marketing Channels

For the foreseeable future, consider shifting focus away from seminars, screenings and other face-to-face events and think about how to engage a more active online consumer. Your owned media channels—especially your website, enewsletter and social media pages—are critical hubs for content and meaningful connection with an increasingly virtual audience.  

Email — This digital-first concept applies both to self-isolating consumers as well as physicians and other healthcare providers who are now less amenable to in-person visits. Email is a preferred method of communication for clinicians, making the channel mission critical for marketers charged with recruiting, referral development and other business-to-business initiatives. Arm your physician liaisons with whitepapers and other content resources to send electronically in efforts to spark and advance conversations.

Social Media - With social platforms like Facebook and Twitter becoming a primary source of news—especially on the local level, focus more on heartwarming stories of frontline caregivers throughout the crisis. To engage peers and healthcare providers, create and share thought leadership content on LinkedIn that demonstrates your team's expertise, promotes their efforts to keep patients safe and celebrates their accomplishments. 

Print — Along with considering these digital pivots, don’t discount the value of print to deliver content to the millions of Americans now working from home who ostensibly have more time on their hands and are seeking a respite from self-isolation, homeschooling and other stressors. The mailing and printing industry are considered essential government services during times of emergency, so your community publication can continue to reach consumers when they need to hear from you most.

To meet this need, we’re helping healthcare clients plan and create COVID-19 marketing infographics, inserts and other assets featuring handwashing tips, advice for staying active at home and other resources that address the new reality of a remote work and school environment.

Also, now is the time to integrate your publication with digital channels that enrich the reader experience and create a path for engaging with your organization in a meaningful way.

We're Here to Help

Want to pivot your marketing plan to maximize your impact on community health in the climate of COVID-19? Let's talk.

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