While the coronavirus pandemic has been a challenge for pretty much every industry – the healthcare industry has been especially impacted. The virus has put a strain on resources for intensive care units and emergency services but has left other service lines hurting due to a lack of elective procedures and fewer patients seeking preventative care. It has also seen the majority in the healthcare industry completely pivot the way they serve patients, communicate, and market their brands.
In our healthcare webinar, A Path Forward: Building a Confident Healthcare Recovery Plan, we talked about where healthcare brands can focus their energy – and their marketing – now to continue connecting with prospective and current patients throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Here are three key areas our data has shown to focus on right now.
1. Humanizing Your Brand
It’s no longer enough to have the most cutting-edge treatments, recognized physicians, or state-of-the-art facilities. Those are now table stakes.
In a study we conducted, we found that emotional motivators, such as security and confidence, were just as important as functional motivators like quality care and quality physicians when it comes to choosing a healthcare provider.
Right now, what can set your healthcare brand apart is your ability to connect with consumers on an emotional level. And it’s something that should be at the core of everything you do in your marketing.
Here are some ways you can humanize your brand and build a connection with consumers:
Use real people in your branding and marketing campaigns.
Yes, stock photography and videos are easier, but consumers are savvy enough to know whether or not you’re featuring a real person or real people in your campaigns. In order to build that connection with them, try to incorporate real patients, physicians, and community members into your branding and marketing campaigns.
Focus on storytelling.
Consumers connect with stories. And right now, they want to know how real people have experienced care from your healthcare system.
Safety is a huge concern for consumers looking for treatments. They want to feel confident that the procedures and protocols you’ve put in place to protect patients and providers from the coronavirus are effective. You can tell stories about a patient’s experience visiting the doctor for the first time, the ease of using telehealth, or a recovery story from someone who’s had COVID-19.
Tell your story in the right places, in the right way.
Consumers are spending more time online – and more time visiting their local and national media sites searching for information about everything going on in the world. In fact, 90% of consumers prefer premium news and publishing sites when consuming COVID-19 content online and they want to see other health-related content next to coronavirus content.
This gives your healthcare brand a unique opportunity to reach consumers in a place they’re already turning to for trusted news and information.
With branded content, a storytelling-driven approach to marketing, you can provide vital information to your local community – getting your brand in front of them in the right place, right now.
Display advertising also gives you a way to get in front of consumers while they’re spending time on these sites and drives them to your business’s website or to a useful piece of content.
2. Showing Your Local Expertise
The situation around the coronavirus pandemic varies by location. In Phoenix, Arizona, cases are continuing to climb, while in a place like Augusta, Maine, cases are decreasing.
It’s important to take locality into consideration as you continue marketing your healthcare system. Depending on your area, what’s happening in the community, how consumers are behaving, and what matters to consumers around you, you can make adjustments to your message and how you get your message out there.
When it comes to content, a healthcare system in Phoenix would want to continue providing information on social distancing, the importance of wearing masks, and how to cope with the stress of the pandemic. A healthcare system in Augusta might focus on how to stay safe while returning to the office, what constitutes a safe gathering, or tips for visiting a restaurant.
Locality also impacts the service lines that you should be promoting and the stage in the funnel your local consumers are in. In Phoenix, you might focus your marketing on education and awareness, while in Augusta you could focus more on driving website visits and calls to convert into patients now.
3. Putting Consumers First
Right now, more and more people are searching for ways to manage stress and anxiety. This gives your healthcare system an opportunity to engage with consumers by providing them with the content they’re looking for and supporting them throughout this pandemic.
Adjust your content strategy to support consumers’ mental health.
This information can impact the type of content you’re creating, sharing, and communicating to your community. While pre-pandemic your content might have been around education for your elective surgery procedures or how to avoid heart disease, you might want to focus now on sharing content from your professionals about how to workout at home, deep breathing exercises for stress relief, or ways to avoid feeling lonely during quarantine.
If you can make consumers feel supported now, when they do feel safe to return to a physician’s office, they’re more likely to choose you. And, this shows that you understand what’s important to consumers and can provide the resources they need presently – and post-pandemic.
Be conscious of your service lines.
You can also consider marketing the specific service lines you offer that align with these current consumer concerns. Many mental health professionals are offering HIPAA-compliant telehealth sessions so patients can get access to treatment that can help them cope during the pandemic.
If you haven’t been including this service line or area of expertise in your marketing, now might be a good time to do so.
The core focus for your marketing is always the consumer. By understanding how consumers are behaving, engaging with content, and interacting with healthcare providers in your area, you can create a marketing strategy that builds trust, reaches them in the right ways, and provides a resource that will carry them through this difficult time we’re all navigating.
For more information on how we can help you with your healthcare marketing, reach out to one of our experts today.
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