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How to Navigate Healthcare Marketing Through COVID-19

Apr 15, 2020 | Amy Ferguson - Doximity Client Success Manager


No one was prepared for what COVID-19 would bring us. But as we continue to navigate these unprecedented times, here are some recommendations for how to stay afloat:

 

Budgets

As the population switches to a world of social distancing, there are fewer people interacting with traditional marketing. To combat this, healthcare marketers are decreasing promotional budgets and increasing their spend on strategies such as SEO, PPC, digital display ads and paid social. One MM&M article mentions that “Marketers may emerge more agile, and with a renewed mandate to examine resource allocation and messaging to their most important customer: the clinician.” In fact, in a recent survey, they discovered that 75% of physicians say they have increased their use of digital resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, 73.7% believe we will see an evolution in marketing tactics to more B2B vs. patient and payor.

In addition to reallocating budgets, Digiday explains that COVID-19 is impacting the autonomy that marketing teams once had in making budget decisions: “Digital media investments that were previously approved by its marketing managers, now go through the region’s CEO. Every project goes to the finance team, which is understandable because everyone is conscious of leaking dollars and the impact that could have on the company’s cash flow,” said the senior marketer. In 2020, the only certainty the company’s digital marketing team can plan for is uncertainty.

 

Branding

Healthcare Success is advising their clients to take this opportunity to “define your brand by reinforcing your mission – most of which probably involves caring for your community. Show the public how your brand’s medical mission corresponds with your efforts to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus disease and treat patients stricken with COVID-19. Do the right things now, and consequently, you will build your medical organization’s branding for the long-term.”  At this point, success isn’t measured by volume and conversion rates, it’s all about informing people and keeping them safe. Consider promoting content focused on tempering panic and fear around the situation or promoting human connection around uplifting and hopeful stories.

A digital agency, Perficient, reminds healthcare marketers that normal health & wellness concerns do not stop during a pandemic. While COVID-19 is on everyone’s minds, we still need to find a way to tie these tangential topics to the main news of the day. For example, a psychologist could write about coping skills and mental health strategies for those on the front lines.

Ad Age is reporting that executives who are posting on LinkedIn about their response to coronavirus are getting “exceptionally high engagement rates.” In examining the posting habits of 100 CEOS representing multiple sectors, including financial services, automotive, retail and consumer packaged goods, 60 of them have communicated on LinkedIn since the crisis began, and half of them are getting the best reactions they have seen on a post all year. The highest-performing posts communicated gratitude to internal teams, ensured business continuity during the crisis and explained how the company was giving back. The lowest-performing posts “did not express enough gratitude to employees, were too company-centric, were presented without a photo, or included a reposted link without context or comment.”

When it comes to planning, one article from JAMA does mention that there are undoubtedly going to be consequences for mental health and wellbeing in both the short and long term. It suggests that our mental health systems need to be prepared to deliver in the wake of the impact.

 

Technology

Hospital marketers are shifting their consumer messaging so that it’s more telehealth focused vs. service line focused. These types of shifts all over the country may end up being the tipping point that brings telemedicine fully into the mainstream.

In an interview with Forbes, Kathy Bachmann, GM of Americas with the consultancy Analytic Partners, Inc., stresses the importance of analytics in business decision making moving forward post COVID19: “Some expect that consumers may not return exactly to their prior habits when the outbreak has passed. When faced with disruption and uncertainty, we recommend leveraging advanced analytics to support making decisions and reduce the risk that can be run against a number of possible scenarios.”

 

Want information on how Doximity can help during the pandemic? Check out how healthcare professionals can communicate safely and efficiently.