Author: Jimmy Warren

Healthcare Marketing During a Pandemic: Shift Your Strategy Back to the Basics

There’s no magic vaccine yet. The dreaded third wave of COVID-19 is upon us. Nurses continue to be in short supply. An epidemic of stress compounds the stress of the pandemic—both with long-term consequences. Healthcare marketing during a pandemic is uncharted territory for all of us and requires a different, yet more basic approach.

To be effective at healthcare marketing during a pandemic, start by shifting your strategy back to the basics in order to regain patients’ trust that their health and wellbeing are paramount.

Throw last year’s strategy out the window. In this new normal, communicate openly, authoritatively and compassionately. We’re in a new brand world where accolades and tone-deaf messages fail to inspire safety, trust and credibility. As a result, people want facts about prevention, symptoms, testing and treatment.

Lettered blocks spelling out New Normal with EW replacing the OR in the word normal to emphasize healthcare marketing during a pandemic is the new normal
In this new normal, communicate openly, authoritatively and compassionately.

The Pandemic Has Changed Patient and Consumer Behavior

We have talked about digital transformation in healthcare for years. One of the few positives swept in by COVID-19 has been the significant change in consumer behavior. As people stayed away from hospitals and doctors’ offices over fears of contracting the virus, the industry began implementing telehealth options.

Now that it’s here, it’s not likely to go away. Providers who want to stay ahead of the competition—particularly retail providers—and remain relevant to their consumers need to act quickly and decisively to implement telehealth platforms.

Whether you’re offering tele-visits, digital monitoring on mobile apps or touch-free triage, market the technology. Drive consumers online to make appointments, update medical records, check vitals and talk with their providers. Patients want to feel safe and cared for at every touchpoint.

Make sure instructions to patients are clear. Test and retest the steps to ensure that everything works as intended.

Your website remains the front door for patients. Continually update information about:

  • Safety procedures
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Procedures for in-person and virtual visits
  • Accommodations for elective and non-elective procedures
  • General COVID-19 information

Be Mindful of Both Physical and Mental Health

The pandemic’s far-reaching disruption of our physical and financial health has dramatically impacted our mental health.

The American Psychological Association recently released a survey that shows 78 percent—or 8-in-10 Americans—label coronavirus as a significant source of stress in their lives. Another study reveals respondents labeling their mood swings as 50 percent anxiety, 32 percent sadness, 27 percent fear, 25 percent anger and experiencing joy only 10 percent of the time.

Prominently feature mental health resources, including those offered outside your system, in service line marketing. Patients want to know where and how to seek care. The ability to cut through the noise and provide them with information and options is essential to fostering brand trust.

Tell Your Healthcare Facility’s Story

Number fatigue and politicizing COVID-19 have worn us down.

Now is a good time to renew the basic tenet of public relations—tell a good story. Leverage stories of hope from your patients and front-line heroes across all channels—social content, videos and media pitches.

Focus on the Facts in Your Healthcare Marketing

The American public has grown weary and leery of conflicting information about the coronavirus.

While we await the arrival of a vaccine, develop your strategy for delivering the vaccine to your community. The public may have lost confidence in national healthcare leaders, but they yearn for fact-based guidance and assurance that someone is watching out for their wellbeing.

Plan Your Marketing for the Long Term

To stay ahead of the competition and remain relevant to consumers, what you do now to meet consumer demand can mitigate some of the uncertainty about long-term financial viability.

Earlier this year, we stated that, “Email is where it’s at.” We stand by that statement. With work from home, virtual school and a need for connection, consumers of all ages continuously check emails.

We’ve long advocated for meeting the consumer where they are. For now, healthcare marketing during a pandemic should focus efforts online—through emails, optimization, social media and, to a lesser extent, banner ads.

As we remain remote and socially distanced, virtual interaction is the best interpersonal platform for telling our story.

Media Mix 2020, Part 3: The Latest in Digital Advertising

Should television ads, direct mail, and digital display ads be in your healthcare marketing budget? Marketing Your Hospital explored where hospital marketers should spend their marketing dollars in 2020. We’re sharing what we found in this three-part series. In this third installment, we take a closer look at the latest trends in digital advertising. And be sure to check out Part 1: Is TV advertising dead? and Part 2: Should You Invest in Direct Mail?

(more…)

Does Color Matter in Hospital Marketing?

Let us guess. Your organization’s logo is predominantly blue. Are we right? We can make that assumption because more than half of all company logos and a whopping 85% of hospital logos are blue. That’s according to a logo review by design marketplace 99designs.

And it makes sense. Blue is associated with calmness, trustworthiness, and steadfastness. What healthcare organization wouldn’t want to project those brand traits? The rest of your palette is probably a pleasing yet limited color selection that complements your main logo color. And you’ve been drilling those colors and their proper usage into the heads of content creators your organization over for years.

But are you using color strategically?

color plays a big role in the way that we see and perceive brands
(more…)

Media Mix 2020, Part 2: Is Direct Mail Dead?

Are television ads, direct mail, and digital display ads worth the investment? Marketing Your Hospital explored where hospital marketers should spend their marketing dollars in 2020. We’ll share what we found in this three-part series. In this second part, we take a closer look at direct mail. And be sure to check out Part 1: Is TV advertising dead?

In our first Media Mix 2020 post, we discussed the value of television advertising, even in the wake of digital recording and online streaming. But what about direct mail? Like TV advertising, direct mail is costly, while email blasts are cheap. Is direct mail worth the paper it’s printed on? Yes, yes, yes.

direct mail and letters piled high in a mailbox
(more…)

Media Mix 2020, Part 1: Is TV Advertising Dead?

Are television ads, direct mail, and digital display ads still worth the investment? Marketing Your Hospital explored where hospital marketers should spend their marketing dollars in 2020. We’ll share what we found in this three-part series. First up is TV advertising.

When was the last time you watched a commercial on television? If you can’t remember, you’re probably not inclined to spend a dime of your 2020 hospital marketing budget on TV advertising. No one will see them! Well, it turns out, that’s far from true.

(more…)

Converting Patient Education Materials into Healthcare Content Marketing

Struggling to find ongoing, relevant content for your hospital’s website, blog, email campaigns and social media? You probably are overlooking a treasure trove of existing content that sits on patient floors and in your physician offices—patient education materials.

With just a little chopping up and a little editing, you can easily turn a 32-page spine surgery patient guide into a plethora of healthcare content.

Business online, digital marketing, human hands with gadgets vector Illustration, web design
(more…)

The Healthcare Marketer’s Guide to Image SEO

Keywords, semantic search, meta descriptions. Over the years, you’ve become accustomed to writing for your hospital’s website with SEO in mind. But if you’re not optimizing your images, then you’re leaving rankable assets on the table. The good news is image SEO is fairly simple. Here’s what you need to know.

(more…)

Should You Go All-in on Brand Marketing?

Healthcare systems across the country seem to be jumping back on the branding wagon. They are hiring marketing vice presidents from consumer brand companies and engaging multinational advertising agencies. The idea is to create a pull strategy that causes consumers to demand your healthcare system. That, in turn, gives you leverage when negotiating insurance reimbursement rates.

But will new logos and television ads alone create that demand?

Probably not.

Designer team sketching a logo in digital design studio on computer, creative graphic drawing skills for marketing and branding (own design elements on the computer screen)
(more…)

Creating Hospital Content for the Buying Cycle

Before consumers make a purchase, whether it’s a new camera or car, they typically follow a predictable cycle that takes them from shopper to customer. At the end is the camera or car they dreamed of (hopefully). Despite the common thought that healthcare is not a typical purchase, your patients follow the same pattern. And you need to be creating content for every stage of the healthcare consumer buying cycle.

Pediatrician and little african american girl at hospital
(more…)

How Tech-Savvy Are Seniors?

We’ve all made at least a few jokes about seniors and technology. We ask children to help grandpa find Netflix on the TV. And we laugh when grandma signs her texts “Love, Nana” like we don’t know they’re from her.

These endearing examples give the impression that older adults aren’t technology savvy. And because adults 65 and older make up a large segment of healthcare’s target market, you feel the need to rely heavily on other mediums. But baby boomers and above are using technology—at the highest rates we’ve ever seen. Here, we take a closer look at the statistics of tech use among seniors.

Senior man reading online news on smartphone outdoors.
(more…)