As COVID-19 continues to spread across multiple continents and infect more people, medical practices have suffered under economic, medical, and social uncertainties. However, just as all bad things eventually come to an end, this pandemic will also eventually subside.
Advertising is certainly not the first thing that comes to mind for practices, especially during a time such as this one. With tons of layoffs unfortunately for important team members, reduced offerings as well as pay cuts, and other painful measures taken, you may be wondering how you can transition moving forward with hope.
However, the most optimal plan of action you can choose to do for yourself, your fellow team, and your patients is to come out stronger and prepared. As lockdown restrictions lift over time, you will need to be ready.
Like any other success story, it takes due diligence, time, and patience in order to get anything started. Like a car, slowly revving up from 0 to 60, you need to be in the best possible shape you can be, waiting for the light to turn green to spark your new journey.
Here are a few guidelines to help you advertise, even amidst these uncertain times.
1) Advertising is not about the present
In marketing, sales do not happen on the first, second, or even third time customers are exposed to a product. They happen on the seventh.
It takes time for people to accept something new, and the more times they are exposed to a new product or idea, the more willing they may eventually be to engage. Thus, advertising budgets and strategies should be spent targeting fewer people multiple times rather than looking to increase publicity to the maximum number of people only once.
With this in mind, it is important to utilize how to navigate through the first six touches and how patients can hear about your news multiple times. The most cost-effective way to do this is through social media marketing, utilizing platforms such as Instagram and Facebook and updating your patients on how you have adapted due to the pandemic.
During this time, Facebook is even offering $100 million in cash grants in support of eligible small businesses. See if you are eligible here, and be sure to check out Facebook’s Blueprint and Instagram for Business if you have not already.
2) Diversify Your Messaging
Often when a marketing message is repeated enough times, its effectiveness increases for audiences. As more people hear of your message through different platforms, they will begin to retain valuable information that you are attempting to portray. However, this does not necessarily mean that static messaging is most optimal all the time.
As consumers of products and services, we would not want more than 10 or 20 exposures to the same message. Google Cloud’s Director of Commercial Operations Marton Jojarth once stated, “Think of that new song you hear on the radio. After a few plays you start to like it. If you hear it too often, though, it starts to get annoying.” He is completely right. If your messages are not exciting or eye-catching enough, it is time to create new marketing techniques to improve your messaging.
Most of all, through all this, do not be afraid of posting an ineffective advertisement. With Facebook as well as Google Ads, multiple advertisements are allowed to be run, and the ads with the most clicks are optimized, saving you money on your spendings on advertising. If you would like more information about how to portray the best message, visit Google’s YourPrimer and their short introductory video on other tactics when creating a successful message.
3) Collaboration, not Competition
In the early 1990s, Starbucks dominated the market. As they opened up new shops on every street, competitors would become very worried.
However, over time, overall coffee spending grew in these areas as customers grew more accustomed to luxury beverages, and customers also increased awareness of coffee as a lifestyle beverage.
Just as Starbucks positively affected its industry, the same goes for medical processes and treatments. As larger entities move into new markets and increase their spending on advertisements, independent practices may grow understandably concerned. However, the market as a whole is expanding while the advertising is generating publicity on how procedures can help patients in general.
All in all, advertising does not necessarily help practices stand out from others, but rather it is something to do in order to gain patients in need and help them understand your specific practices that can help them. This collaborative atmosphere is what practices should look to be a part of, and genuine advertising should increase customer’s overall interest amongst prospective patients, helping out not only your practice, but others as well.
4) Empathy Is Key
The largest facet of communication is empathy when speaking with customers, particularly during this challenging time.
The first step that you should take is spreading your strategy with the rest of your team. Share with your team what you are planning to spend on, how you are looking toward the future of the practice (and in terms of their long-term employment), and take into account any feedback they can provide for you.
Secondly, tone is crucial when creating an effective marketing message. Especially to customers or patients who may have suffered tremendously during this time, the appropriateness of images as well as videos that may display human interaction should be taken into account. Headlines as well as descriptions also all play factors.
A third facet is to understand the context and platforms of where you are advertising on. For example, it may be a good idea to shift advertising from radio to other platforms, as there are less drivers on the road listening in on local stations. Funds should be shifted instead online, whether it be through Google Ads, social media, or even streaming providers.
A final aspect is offering benefits for patients and being cognizant of this time consisting of unemployment and less pay. Search for ways to alleviate patients’ payment pressure by promoting discounts, gift cards, and longer term deferred interest plans. Thus, these promotions can further demonstrate the care that your practice is taking for patients who are cared for.
Through all this, a key takeaway is that it may not be the right time to invest money into advertising.
With several other options available, here are some steps you can take that do not require any means of financial investment.
- Update your Google and online listings with the most relevant information, and ensure that opening hours, blog posts, and practice updates are clearly defined.
- Utilize social media platforms more so now and plan for future postings regarding discount deals or reopenings specials.
- Most practices have already let their patients know that they are currently closed during these times. However, allowing calls and offering virtual consultations is still important, so be sure to email and follow up with patients who have any questions. You may also want to create a waiting list of procedures after anticipating a reopening date so that people can get notified when your practice opens once more.
Learn more about how COVID-19 can drive innovation for your medical practice.