Haven’t we been here before? There seems to be a continuous loop of Bill Murray’s “Groundhog Day” playing non-stop in our heads. With 2022 looming ahead with much the same playbook as 2021, what’s our next move in this COVID-19 chess match? Reflect on what worked and what did not. Renew strategies that proved to be successful despite a challenging virus that won’t go away. Then accept that this is our new normal. It’s time to hit the reset button on healthcare marketing for 2022.
Reflect on Marketing Promises to Patients
We’ve reflected on marketing strategies and advice that we shared over the past year. Many of the tactics carry over into the new year:
- Connections with patients begin online. Review everything being offered in the digital space where they go to stay informed. They want to read less but learn more from telehealth visits, virtual events, patient portals, podcasts and videos.
- Flexibility, agility and the ability to pivot are key to successful marketing efforts. Quickly shift tactics to reach target audiences and generate demand when their focus shifts. We know they are online 24-7-365. So follow their lead to deliver information, products and services when, where and how they want it.
- With any marketing message, “keep it simple, stupid” and keep it consistent.
- Create content that is short and consumable in snack-size bites. Remember— humans supposedly have an eight-second attention span (less than a goldfish); we’re bombarded with some 10,000 messages daily; we spend about 16 minutes a day on personal reading time.
Renew Commitments to Community
Throughout the pandemic, hospitals have faced disparities and racial inequities that prevented much of the population from accessing adequate healthcare. People of color have died at higher rates from COVID-19 than their white counterparts.
Health inequities, coupled with other social ills, compels the healthcare industry to look inward. It is crucial for companies to include diversity and inclusion in their core values, to employ people who look like their customers and to connect with their communities in meaningful ways.
Marketing campaigns should reflect the diverse communities we serve, our customers and our employees. Don’t just talk about implementing change; consumers expect us to walk the walk.
Take actions that lead to social impact investments in affordable housing, education and employment, which all contribute to the community’s holistic health.
The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer showed a decline in trust of institutions, from the government to the media. A year later, according to “Top U.S. Insights from Gallup in 2021,” not much has changed—people still don’t trust politicians or the media. But, even more concerning is a dip in confidence of healthcare professionals. While 64 percent of Americans still largely trust their doctors, they are less confident than they were a decade ago.
People don’t necessarily trust or believe brands, but they do believe and trust people. Market doctors, nurses and other frontline employees as the face of the brand. Use thought leadership from the CEO in social media to connect with patients, stakeholders and community leaders. Humanize the brand by sharing ordinary acts of care and compassion that impacted others in extraordinary ways.
Reset Top Marketing Priority—Employees First
Healthcare marketing in 2022 should implement a strategy that has always been priority. We advise launching marketing campaigns internally first for employee buy-in.
This is particularly critical when at least 30 percent of nurses nationwide are considering leaving the profession, compounding the critical nursing shortage. They’ve carried the heaviest load while caring for our health during the pandemic.
However, the Great Resignation affects employees across the board, particularly females who hold 76 percent of all healthcare jobs. Balancing increased demands at work and at home has fanned the flames of burnout.
Internal marketing efforts should address issues affecting frontline employees as well as staff who may be working remotely. Compensation, staffing and resource shortages are all common issues. However, a survey of more than 1,700 nurse leaders identifies their top concern as the emotional health and well-being of their staff.
Nurses don’t want more cookies, t-shirts or flowers. They want mental health services.
Use internal marketing campaigns to promote initiatives such as on-site wellness rooms, mental health resources, recognition programs or additional PTO that prioritize employee well-being. Encourage employees to refresh by disconnecting from work, including electronic devices, for protected time.
Another message aimed at retaining talent and keeping employees happy might focus on “upskilling” opportunities. As many as 72 percent of workers say they would be more engaged with their work if companies increased investments in training for new skills.
All-in-all, 2022 seems to be a new year to focus on the “Rs”—reflect, renew and hit the rest button on marketing that balances the healthcare needs of internal and external audiences alike.